ECLAC reports high femicide rate in Latin America, Caribbean

Latin America

SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) — A new study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) says more than 3,500 women were victims of femicide in 25 regional countries last year.

According to “Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean (GEO)”, the official data compiled annually by ECLAC, at least 3,529 women were killed for gender-based reasons in the 25 Latin in 2018.

The report says four of the five highest rates of femicide, or feminicide, in Latin America occur in northern Central American countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) and in the Dominican Republic.

Bolivia is the remaining country, with a rate of 2.3 femicides for every 100,000 women in 2018, which is the third-highest rate in Latin America and the highest in South America, the report said.

In contrast, it says Peru has a rate of 0.8 femicides for every 100,000 women, which marks the lowest figure in the region last year.

In the Caribbean, the report said the prevalence of femicide exceeds four deaths for every 100,000 women in countries such as Guyana and St Lucia, according to information from 2017.

In 2018, the report said, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados topped the list, with a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 women.

“This figure could be even more troubling in the case of Barbados, considering that this country only collects figures on ‘intimate femicides, meaning those committed by the victims’ current or former intimate partners,” ECLAC said.

Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC executive secretary, said the gender-based killing of women is “the extreme on a continuum of violence that women in the region experience.

“The figures compiled by ECLAC, in an effort to make the seriousness of this phenomenon more visible, show the depth of the patriarchal, discriminatory and violent cultural patterns that are present in the region,” she said. “Millions of women in the region have taken to the streets to assert and demand something so basic which is violated: the right to live violence-free lives.”

The GEO pointed to the challenge of comparing the phenomenon on a regional level.

In the majority of Caribbean countries, where the offence of femicide/feminicide has not been codified in criminal codes, ECLAC said the only figures collected correspond to women’s deaths at the hands of their partners or former partners.

In Latin America, ECLAC said countries differ in the way they legally define the phenomenon, ranging from a broad notion of femicide to criminal offences that limit it to marriage or co-habitation.

In addition, different approaches are used to produce records on this crime, ECLAC s

It said measuring femicide in the region’s countries is essential for designing, implementing and evaluating public policies aimed at protecting victims of gender-based violence, specifically in order to prevent femicide, provide reparation for dependent collateral victims, and punish the perpetrators.

To tackle these challenges, ECLAC said it is promoting the development of a Femicide Registration System in Latin American and Caribbean countries, “which would serve as a tool for improving the quality of national information with a view to deepening the analysis of femicide and strengthening regional comparability.”

In addition, ECLAC noted that the United Nations and the European Union are implementing the “Spotlight Initiative” to eliminate violence against women and girls, which has identified the eradication of femicide as its focus for the region.

ECLAC, through the GEO, said it is “a strategic partner in this initiative, since the strengthening of femicide registration systems is one of the project’s objectives”.

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