New law targets violence against women

On Thursday, November 25, El Salvador's National Assembly unanimously passed the Law for A Life Free From Violence for Women. For the first time, the law creates a separate crime of femicide for the murder of a woman on account of her gender. The law also imposes stiffer penalties on a wide variety of crimes of sexual assault and abuse of women.

In her blog, Laura Hershberger cites the statistics which made this law so necessary:
In the past ten years in El Salvador, violence against women has increased by 197%, making it the number one place for femicides in the world, with 129.46 assassinations per one million women.

According to the Second National Report of the Situation of Violence Against Women in El Salvador, put out by the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Women (ISDEMU), between January 1st and November 5, 2010, the ISDEMU saw 6,320 cases of violence against women. Among those including: domestic violence, child abuse, sexual harrassment and abuse, labor abuse, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Of the 477 femicides registered in 2010, 74 were under the age of 17, thirteen were tortured, 14 were burned and 8 were decapitated. These are the characteristics of femicides in El Salvador.

In 2007, approximately every 73 hours a woman was assassinated, in 2009, it was every 31 hours and in 2010, every 13 hours a woman was assassinated.

According to the ISDEMU document, in 2010, 702 women have been victims of sexual aggression, 4,230 have suffered from domestic violence, and 1,325 young girls were abused.
The authorities in El Salvador have done an abysmal job of prosecuting persons for crimes against women. According to a ISDEMU report, of 6,803 cases of sexual crimes against women reported to the office of the attorney general between 2008 and 2009, only 436 produced a jail sentence. Of the 477 murders of women so far this year, there are only 30 convictions.

Thus the new law is a good first step, but it will only offer protection for women if the police and the judicial system act much more vigorously to enforce the rights of women to be free from abuse, assault, and violence.


We have a chance to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) here in the US--but we'll have to start from scratch if it is not approved before Congress adjourns. (Lutheran World Relief supports this legislation, BTW.) If you're in the US, call your Senators and Representative and urge them to support IVAWA! (Posting with my Amnesty hat on)
Jocelyn said…
Tim, thanks for posting on this important issue. However, I just wanted to make one small clarification The report says that only 436 were found guilty. This does NOT mean that they served time in jail, as you state. In many cases in El Salvador, aggressor's are sentenced to pay a fine for their "civil responsibility" and then continue to walk the street. Wish there were statistics on the outcomes of the sentencing.