SEMlac reports

SEMlac reports (325)

Santiago de Chile, July (SEMlac).- A letter signed by 15 feminists and women's organizations was delivered to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on June 17, asking to decriminalize abortion in keeping with international recommendations under the Second Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Bachelet had undertaken to legalize such a practice in cases of mother's health in jeopardy, fetal inviability, and rape.

The international recommendations highlight the need to adopt measures to guarantee full, effective recognition of sexual and reproductive rights, especially by decriminalizing abortion, and urge to repeal laws criminalizing women who have resorted to this practice.

"The signatories hope that the State will actually protect human rights and meet its international obligations," the letter reads.

"We also hope that the opposition of conservative groups will not delay implementation of The Government Program," it added.

Carolina Carrera, president of Humanas Corporation, recalled that 84 percent of survey respondents favor the idea of decriminalizing abortion in cases where women's lives are at risk, and 80 percent agree to it in cases of fetal inviability or rape.

Erika Montecinos, a representative of Breaking the Silence (lesbian organization), indicated that it is essential to guarantee women's rights to make decisions over their own bodies.

Soledad Acevedo, a member of Freedom of Choice (feminist group), said that Chile is one of the few countries where abortion is not allowed. The move was adopted under Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Estimates show that around 160,000 abortions are performed every year in the country.

Tatiana Hernández, a representative of the Gender and Equity Observatory, indicated that time has come to regain women's right to decide on their bodies.

Buenos Aires, June (SEMlac Special). – The World Cup in Brazil this month has mobilized not only the Brazilian government, but also the entire international community, which has developed actions to further fight human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and women’s objectification.

The local government has invested 3.3 million dollars to deal with child prostitution only in the host cities. Estimates showed that, on the occasion of the World Cup in Germany in 2006, new brothels were built and around 40,000 foreign women were brought in to be involved in prostitution.

Four years later in South Africa, reports indicated that the number of sexually exploited women and girls in the country had significantly grown. Some 600,000 foreign tourists are now expected to visit Brazil. They will account for 10 percent of overall international travelers in 2014.

The Regional Coalition against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (CATWLAC) launched a campaign under the slogan Say no to sexual tourism.

Its regional director Teresa C. Ulloa told SEMlac that the Brazilian Ministry of Labor and Employment had incorporated prostitution on the list of authorized trades and professions in 2002.

“Those involved only need to have fourth to seventh grade of education,” she added.

“The government has been closing down some brothels and massage centers in the last few months, “she stressed.

Considering prostitution as a job runs counter to Article 6 in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which has been ratified by Brazil.

“Poverty, discrimination and gender violence are some of the underlying causes of prostitution in Brazil”, CATWLAC media officer Heysel Escamilla told SEMlac.

She quoted youth counselor Carlos Da Bomb as saying that buying a girl is as easy as buying a chocolate bar in Brazil.

She recalled that a man who had had sex with three 12-year-old girls had been prosecuted in 2012.

“The Court ruled that they were old enough to do this type of work,” she noted.

In this context, a wide range of organizations have also launched awareness-raising campaigns, including Don’t look away! by the Network to End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT).

Local feminists have organized marches against FIFA male-chauvinism, and the International Network of Gender-Conscious Journalists developed a campaign urging media representatives to help fight sexual tourism and human trafficking over the World Cup ( It has been widely supported by sports reporters and commentators.



Mexico City, June (SEMlac Special). – Around 12,000 Mexican indigenous women are currently in prison, mostly after arbitrary arrests. They often endure punishment and lack of medical care and appropriate food supply.

Leticia Escandón, a member of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), told SEMlac that she had submitted a comprehensive report to Congress demanding urgent care for these women.

On the other hand, Marcela Eternod, executive secretary of the National Women’s Institute, asked legislators to enact gender-sensitive laws and regulations along these lines.

Escandón indicated that the local penitentiary system has failed to apply the gender approach and has therefore made it possible to violate human rights at prisons.

“Out of 8,486 people incarcerated last year, 290 were indigenous women”, she recalled.

There are today 21 incarcerated in Oaxaca, 58 in Chiapas, 53 in Puebla, 19 in Veracruz, 8 in Guerrero, 31 in the Federal District, 18 in Yucatan; 6 in San Luis Potosí, 1 in Chihuahua, 11 in Hidalgo, 19 in the state of Mexico, 5 in Sonora, 2 in Nayarit, 8 in Michoacán, 2 in Quintana Roo, 1 in Campeche, 2 in Morelos, 2 in Tabasco, 3 in Sinaloa, 1 in Jalisco, 2 in Baja California, 2 in Baja California Sur, 3 in Querétaro, 1 in Nuevo León, 1 in Zacatecas, 1 in Aguascalientes, 9 in Islas Marías, and 5 in northwestern Nayarit.

They belong to 27 different ethnic groups: Náhuatl (79), Tzotzil (41), Mixteco (20), Otomí (20), Zapoteco (19), Maya (19), Tzeltal (19), Totonaca (18), Mazateco (15), Mazahua (8), Mixe (7), Tlapaneco (6), Chol (6), Chinanteco (5), Mayo (5), Purépecha (4), Huasteco (3), Amuzgo (2), Chatino (2), Cora (2), Huichol (2), Quiché (2), Zoque (2), Cuicateco (1), Pame (1), Matlatzinca (1), and Tarahumara (1).

They were said to have committed crimes such as homicide, robbery, and fraud, and are being provided with no legal advisory and translation services. Only 35.9 percent (4,198) are at women’s prisons; the rest (7,712) are at mixed penitentiary centers.

Eternod indicated that 67 percent of justice administrators at 15 high courts are not aware of international legal instruments for the protection of women’s rights. “This is inadmissible,” she stressed.

There is an urgent need to adopt and implement measures guaranteeing the full exercise of human rights at state and federal prisons.

A representative of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recalled that the American Convention on Human Rights asks States to provide penitentiary staff with training for the appropriate treatment of inmates.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines the term discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.

In the region, the Belém do Pará Convention establishes that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women and recognizes the rights of women to be free from violence and all forms of discrimination.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Inter-American Convention on the Concession of Civil Rights to Women set forth that all persons shall be equal and entitled to seek the protection of the law without distinction as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.



La Paz, December (SEMlac Special). – Enacted last March 9, Law No. 348 to fight violence against women has actually promoted impunity in the country. Not even one single abuser had been sentenced until September due to extremely long legal proceedings.

This came from two lawyers, one attorney and several representatives of Women for Justice Legal Services, the Center on Women’s Information and Development (CIDEM), the Gregoria Apaza Women’s Promotion Center (CPMGA), the Training Center on Human and Citizen Rights (CDC), La Paz Foundation , the Town Council in El Alto, the ministries of Justice, Health, Labor, and Education, and the local government and police in La Paz.

They interviewed a number of women victims who are expected to “prove” that they really are “good women.”

Women do not usually report their cases because of high legal costs, corruption, potential re-victimization, inadequate infrastructure and staffing, and social and family pressure.

Women for Justice had managed to solve over 50 cases in the first eight months of 2012, but merely got 25 cases in a similar period this year, when 10 women simply gave up. On the other hand, CIDEM used to process 45 reports every six months, but had only received 15 cases until last August.

CPMGA got no reports until April and merely received 15 between May and August, as compared to 28 last year.

“A similar situation has been seen at centers under the umbrella of the Ministry of Justice,” an official who asked not to be identified told SEMlac.

There are women who only seek maintenance for children and restraining orders on or divorce from abusers at family courts.


No effective service

Prosecutor Frida Choque indicated that there are eight specialists in charge of cases under Law No. 348 and Law No. 263 (on trafficking in persons).

“Abusers should be formally accused within eight days, but just the prosecutor appointment takes five to 12 days,” said Colonel Rosa Lema. “The entire process requires 30 to over 60 days,” she added.

“The investigation is then conducted during six months, and all criminal proceedings last over two years,” lawyer Marisol Quiroga stressed.

The women who report cases are supposed to cover expenses such as notifications, investigator transportation, telephone calls, document photocopies, photographic material, etc.


“Male-chauvinistic” justice

Quiroga emphasized that it was a mistake to assume that all women would be willing to take their cases to court.

“We fail to realize that there is male-chauvinistic justice here,” said gender expert María S. Álvarez. “A law can be perfect, but it will not work if there is no political will and money to get it enforced,” she added.

CDH technical secretary Mónica Bayá indicated that FELCV deals with around 58,000 reports a year, with 90 investigators covering 50 cases each.


No rules

Inés Pérez, head of the Gender Violence Prevention and Control Division at the Ministry of Justice, told SEMlac that not all operators are actually willing to work as they should.

Out of 339 municipalities in the country, only 158 are providing local comprehensive legal services, and many women argue that they are not being properly treated at these institutions.

Ombudsman Marcelo Claros highlighted the need to develop rules to enforce the law in an effective manner.

The Ministry of Justice hopes that the necessary protocols will finally be developed and that the Women’s Right Stewardship Office soon to be established will help redress the current situation.



There are NGOs providing specialized training to prosecutors, judges, police officers, forensic specialists, and medical doctors.

The Inter-American Development Bank (BID) has supplied 937,000 dollars to set up and operate a Comprehensive System to Prevent, Control, Sanction and Eradicate Gender Violence (SIPPASE) in the country.

The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (COSUDE) and UN-Women are also supporting local efforts along these lines.

There is an urgent need for the central government to allocate a specific budget for this purpose.

Vice-president Álvaro García has so recognized. Estimates show that 36 million dollars have been required in 2013 and that another 20 million will be needed next year.

Buenos Aires, December (SEMlac Special).– The legislation is force has failed to put an end to acts of violence against women, including murder.

There were 209 victims in the January-September period alone. Over 60 percent of the murders were committed by their sexual partners. Around 70 percent of these women were aged 19 to 50. And 14 percent had reported their cases to the police.

Some five percent of murderers were or still are working for the police. Most of the 293 children who have become orphans are under 18 years of age. There were 293 victims who tried to help these women.

These data were advanced by the Adriana M. Zambrano Observatory on Women’s Murders under the umbrella of the Casa del Encuentro NGO, at a ceremony to launch the book Por ellas: Cinco años de informes de feminicidios (For Women: Five Years of Women Murder Reports).

The book was developed with support from the United Nations Information Center (UNIC), the Avon Foundation, and the U.S. Embassy in Argentina .

It contains women murder reports in the last five years and a number of reflections on justice administration, the incorporation of this criminal category into the local Criminal Code, and the psychological impact of violence on boys and girls.

It provides a major tool to really identify the social dimension of extreme violence against women. It indicates that 1,223 women had been killed in the 2008-2012 period, with one woman being murdered every 35 hours.

“A total of 1,520 children, including some 900 minors, have become orphans,” said Fabiana Túñez, Casa del Encuentro coordinator.

Available at, the book gives food for thought on gender violence prevention and control.

When the idea of writing the book came up in 2008, there were no official statistical data available or any related legislation in force. Law No. 26,485 was enacted a year later seeking to prevent, sanction and eradicate violence against women. Women’s murders were established as a criminal offence in 2012.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, UNIC director David Smith indicated that women’s murders are neither acceptable nor excusable.

Avon Foundation executive director Silvia Zubiri told SEMlac that significant headway has been made in fighting gender violence in Argentina .

“People used to call it crime of passion, but they now know that it is an extreme form of gender violence,” she added.

Túñez highlighted the need to formulate and implement new public prevention policies, especially at a time when women are reporting cases.

Observatory director Ada Rico recalled that many of these women continue to be abused.

Túñez underscored the need to provide them with protection and assistance on a permanent basis, and to properly train the relevant specialists.

“The main challenge now is to remove patriarchal culture and promote education based on equality and equity,” she remarked.


Act of murder

The concept of women’s murder was developed by Mexican anthropologist Marcela Lagarde some time ago and involves a number of factors such as impunity and State complicity.

“We in Argentina cannot say, however, that the State is actually accomplice to women’s murders,” Túñez told SEMlac.


Situation at home

Over 56 percent of women’s murders have been committed at households so far this year.

“The place where women should be queens and masters is actually the place where violent men keep them under control and isolation,” Rico concluded.

Guatemala, November (SEMlac). – Cutting women’s hair, having them kneeled on rocks, dragging them along the street, and publicly accusing them of being prostitutes are considered normal acts under Mayan culture. These are forms of gender violence widely accepted by society.

“Adding rat poison to food so that the couple dies slowly, covering the well where she is thrown into, and strangling the victim are women’s murders that are no longer shocking anyone,” said Norma Cruz, a representative of Survivors Foundation.

Santiago de Chile, November (SEMlac). - Daniela Cruz (4) was killed after having been beaten and raped. Katherine Droguett (36) had her face smashed and died of a cardio-respiratory arrest. Marisol Balcázar (47) was beaten, raped and strangled.

These acts were not considered women’s murders under the Chilean law because Cruz was a minor, Droguett was a transgender, and Bálcazar was killed by a man other than her couple.

Santo Domingo, September (SEMlac Special). – United Nations reports indicate that the Dominican Republic exhibits one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the region.

The latest case, which involves a 10-year-old girl in the southern city of San Cristóbal , has been considered as a true drama by Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo. Rumor has it that the girl got pregnant after rape.

Mexico City, September (SEMlac Special).– Statistical data provide a major tool to formulate, monitor and evaluate public policies and government actions, especially those aimed at promoting equality between men and women.

Against this background, the 14th International Meeting on Gender Statistics was held last September 4- 6 in Aguascalientes (Mexico).

Federal District, Mexico, August (SEMlac). – Women’s murders are posing a very serious threat to peace and democracy in Latin America . Official reports by NGOs, prosecutor offices and violence observatories indicate that 18 women are being killed every day in the region.

Carmen Moreno, executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women, said that this figure clearly shows how much violence there is in the area, while anthropologist Marcela Lagarde stressed that it also reveals that violence against women is reaching unimagined extremes.

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