On the eve of International Women’s Day 2006, a delegation of Latin American women made a historic journey to Washington, DC. Rather than celebrating the gains women have made through their many struggles, the group arrived at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States with an alarming message: Femicide, the murder of women, is spreading.
“(Femicide) is not only present in Ciudad Juarez and most of Mexico, it’s a regional problem,” warns Marimar Monroy, a representative of the non-governmental Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights and one of the delegates to the IACHR.
Joined by grassroots delegates from Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, and other nations, Monroy presented a report to the IACHR commissioners that sketched widespread violence against women from multiple causes, rampant failures in the procurement of justice for victims and relatives, the prevalence of impunity, and the absence of standard statistical gathering and record-keeping methods to document gender violence. Monroy and her Latin American colleagues delivered their femicide report as one piece of a campaign aimed at making “the problem more visible in the region.”
Incomplete murder rates cited in the NGO report mention 373 murders of women in Bolivia from 2003 to 2004, 143 in Peru during 2003, and more than 2,000 in Guatemala. In Colombia , a woman is reportedly killed every 6 days by her partner or ex-partner. Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico , two cities where the femicide trend was first widely noticed, have suffered the murder of more than 500 women from multiple causes since 1993, according to press and other sources. Dozens more remain missing.
Latin American women’s organizations contend that member nations of the Organization of American States are in widespread violation of international treaties and declarations that protect the rights of women, including the American Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Belem do Para Convention, and others. Appealing to the IACHR to follow-up on previous recommendations the human rights institution has made about eradicating femicide, delegation representatives considered the Washington hearing a positive step. …
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