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Increasing Violence in Central America Disproportionately Targets Women

December 30, 2009

December 30, 2009

Increasing violence in Central America disproportionately targets women

COBOURG — On the 20th anniversary of Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique massacre, representatives of Horizons of Friendship were in Costa Rica addressing the disproportionate and shocking level of violence against women in Central America.

Interviewed following their Dec. 12 return, Mesoamerican program co-ordinator Bill Fairbairn and executive director Patricia Rebolledo cited several examples:

* Between 2000 and 2006, killings of men in El Salvador increased by 40%, while female murders grew by 111%.

* In Guatemala, the killing of men doubled from 1990 to 2004, while rates for women tripled.

* The most extreme case is Honduras, scene of a recent military-backed coup d’état. From 2003 to 2007, the killing of women grew four times faster than that of men.

Because of Horizons’s participation in the work and research by the Central American Feminist Network to End Violence Towards Women, staffers wanted to be present for the release of their report and recommendations to the Council of Ministers for Women in Central America.

“It’s not just explained by the increase in levels of violence. Women are being targeted,” Fairbairn stated.

The term used was femicide, he said -crimes against women motivated by hate. And it’s not limited to Central America, he added.

“More than 500 Indigenous women across Canada have been disappeared or murdered, and very few investigations are undertaken. The Canadian government has been asked by the United Nations why that is.”

In Latin America, several possible causes are mentioned.

One is the economic system imposed on the region that results in growing levels of poverty. This kind of destitution leads to shady businesses like drug trafficking, arms sales, the trafficking of women and girls for labour or sexual exploitation.

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