Thursday, July 10, 2014

Increase in Violence Against Honduran Women Says U.N. Expert

According to a United Nations (U.N.) independent investigator, cases of violence against women in Honduras have skyrocketed in recent years while a majority of femicides are in impunity.

“In Honduras, violence against women is widespread and systematic and it impacts women and girls in numerous ways,” Rashida Manjoo, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on violence against women, said this week.

“The climate of fear, in both the public and private spheres, and the lack of accountability for violations of human rights of women, is the norm rather than the exception,” added Manjoo following an eight-day mission to the Central American country.
Manjoo observed that violent deaths of women between 2005 and 2013 increased by a whopping 263.4%.  The number could be greater, however, since she admitted that data from Honduras is often not “accurate, reliable and uncontested.”  Nevertheless, Manjoo noted “scores of concerns as regards the high levels of domestic violence, femicides and sexual violence” during her visit to major cities including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba.

Manjoo also claimed that human trafficking for sexual purposes has been underreported due to the influence of criminal gangs and “hidden nature” of these occurrences.

One bright spot she praised was the push for government police’s aimed at helping women such as the incorporation of femicides into the Penal Code.  Nevertheless, Manjoo criticized the 95% impunity rate for sexual violence and femicides as part of a lack of accountability by he authorities towards women.

“The importance of accountability as the norm for acts of violence against women cannot be over-emphasized, more especially within a context of generalized impunity for violence in the public and private spheres,” said Manjoo.

Manjoo’s research, which will be presented as a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year, comes as the Department of Homeland Security identified high violence rates as one of the reasons behind a recent influx of thousands of unaccompanied and undocumented Central American minors into the U.S.  Fear is also a motivating factor pushing Honduran women to make the roughly 1500-mile trek northward.  Such was the case with Karla who tried to escape gang violence and the threat of being killed but failed: 
When the grueling journey eventually brought them to the banks of the Rio Bravo, Karla thought the family’s nightmare was finally over. But after putting themselves in the care of a US customs agent, a new one began.
Instead of being taken to a detention centre in Texas for processing, they were sent straight back to Mexican immigration control to be sent home.

“They didn’t even let us speak,” said Karla, who is now staying at a spartan facility in San Pedro Sula, the coastal city that is receiving floods of migrants deported from Mexico. “We are back where we started and I don’t know what to do. We haven’t got a dollar between us”…
“For many people the choice is to flee or to die,” says Carlos Paz, director of the San Pedro Sula office of the church organization C├íritas.
Video Source – TeleSUR English via YouTube (Video uploaded in June 2013).

Online Sources – UN News Centre; Pew Research Center; The Guardian

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