Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Femicide rates in Latin America alarming (UN agency)

At least 1,678 women were killed in 2014 in 14 Latin American and three Caribbean countries simply because of their gender, a United Nations agency reported Tuesday.

"We cannot allow Latin American and Caribbean women to keep dying due to the mere fact that they are women," said Alicia Barcena, the executive secretary of the Santiago-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

ECLAC released the data in a press release a day ahead of the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The countries in the region need to improve their administrative records to find out the real number of femicides, and promote adequately funded programs designed to prevent the crime and help victims, said Barcena.

Only 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have laws on violence against women, and of those, only eight allocate funds and resources from their national budgets to help tackle the problem, according to ECLAC.

Countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, have penalized the crime of femicide. Argentina and Venezuela have introduced the concept of aggravated murder for gender reasons into their legislation.

ECLAC also drew attention to the sexual harassment of women in the streets and on public transport along with political harassment that undermines women in the public sector.

Peru is the first country in the region to pass a law against sexual harassment in public spaces, while Argentina, Chile and Paraguay are in talks to implement similar legislation, ECLAC said.

Political harassment, said the agency, "infringes upon the achievement of gender equality, the autonomy of women and the quality of democracy."

At ECLAC's 13th Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016, confronting violence against women will be one of the main topics, said the press release.

On Tuesday, the eve of the UN's International Day, several Latin American countries published data and held events to raise awareness against violence towards women.

Bolivia's Special Force in the Fight Against Violence (FELCV) published a report saying that 45 women in the South American country had been victims of femicide in the first 10 months of 2015.

In Nicaragua, 64 women have been killed so far in 2015, according to the country's police.

In the Dominican Republic, around 100 female students took to the streets, dressed as brides to protest against femicide. On the Caribbean island, more than 60 women have been killed by their partners or ex-partners so far in 2015.

  Xinhua -

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