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Girls & Women

The femicide crisis in Latin America is too deep for laws alone to address

Flickr: gato-gato-gato

In classrooms, buses, parks, restaurants—basically any public venue you can think of—women are slaughtered by resentful, controlling men. And this doesn't even begin to address what happens in private spaces.

Women face violence of all kinds all around the world, but in Latin America where “Machismo” is rampant the problem is especially bad.

The issue is known as “Femicide,” the murder of a woman for hateful, sexist reasons.

In Colombia, a country of 47 million, 1 woman is killed every other day by femicidal violence. In Argentina, the number is closer to 1 a day. In Mexico, 5 a day. Brazil, 15.

Cumulatively, thousands of women are slaughtered every year in the region by ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands and men of all shades of hate.

Historically there’s been a pattern of impunity—meaning the murderers get away with it or receive light sentences way too often.

Men exacting “revenge” on women who refuse to be obedient is somehow seen as tolerable by some male observers. And governments often do not have adequate resources—courts are overcrowded, cops under trained, willpower absent—to deal with the epidemic of violence. That means that investigations tend to go nowhere.

But public outrage has been building. The pain and horror is too much to bear. In Argentina, for example, 200,000 people marched to denounce a spate of recent femicides. The participants, mostly women, rallied around the hashtag #NotOneLess in the weeks leading up to the march.

The pressure has become unavoidable for politicians who have passed harsher laws to punish femicide in 15 countries.

While this is a vital step, it does not change the underlying cause of the violence: the continuum of macho culture, which stands in direct opposition to gender equality.  

On the verbal and gestural side of the continuum, men relentlessly catcall and proposition women, so delusional in their efforts that they somehow think women enjoy the attention.

On the other, darker side of the continuum, femicide flourishes.

This whole continuum has to be obliterated.

The sooner men realize that women have the right to walk down the street without having lust imposed on them, the sooner femicide will end.

The sooner men realize that women can end relationships when they want and that’s the end of it, the sooner femicide will end.

And the sooner men realize that women have the right to control their lives, the sooner femicide will end.

This can only really come about when men start holding one another accountable.

If you agree that violence against women needs to end, go to TAKE ACTION NOW to call on world leaders to prioritize gender equality.