Femicide in Latin America: Ranked The Most Notorious On Earth!


Via Pulsa Merica

Though femicide is happening throughout the world, in Latin America, it is ranked the most prevalent. Femicide- the intentional killing of females because of their gender, seems to be immeasurably brutal. Women and girls are subjected to kidnappings, sexual abuse, torture, mutilation, and murder. According to a 2012 Small Arms Survey, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Bolivia are amongst the most lethal.(1) El Salvador is at the top of the list and Guatemala places third in the world’s most deadly places for women. What these locations have in common is an infestation of poverty, lawlessness and ruthlessness. Mixed with the deadly combination of criminal barbarism, machismo and male privilege, violence against women and girls go unnoticed.(2)   

Many femicide cases go unreported because the local and state governments have become neutralized by street criminals. Oftentimes, the police are the perpetrators. It is a society with injustices and persists in impunity. In Guatemala, 90% of the accused are not convicted.(3)  Families of victims may see no point in reporting crimes against their loved ones. They rather seek refuge instead, because they are often unaware of the real enemy. As women and girls go on being victims, their societies persist in desensitization. These crimes prevail because the legal system goes unchecked.

Yet the case of the femicide murder of 19-year-old and the newly crowned Miss Honduras, Maria Jose Alvarado sparked a national outrage when the details were revealed about her death last November. She and her sister were killed by her sister’s jealous boyfriend. The nature of their murders and the attempt to conceal their bodies constituted a femicide. Alvarado was due to arrive in London the following week to compete in the Miss World competition. A report dispatched by Oxfam Honduras and a Honduran NGO, the Tribunal of Women against Femicide, says that “Women are dying because of a fatal combination of gun crime, political instability and the "systematic indifference" of the police. Convictions for anti-female crimes are rare – between 2008 and 2010, there were 1,110 reported instances of femicide, yet only 211 made it to court. Only 4.2% of these cases brought about a conviction."(4) Until now, femicide cases in Honduras has been long ignored; women are being killed at a rate one per day.

Via Business Insider

Not all femicide victims are subjected to a fate by firearms. Some are brutally tortured and dismembered. Many of these crimes are exceptionally violent. According to one news report in El Salvador, “bodies generally appear burned, with hands and feet bound. Some have been beheaded, and autopsies reveal that the majority of the victims suffer torture and sexual abuse before dying.”(5) In Bolivia, women are abused, tortured and mutilated by their husbands and partners. The country has a high rate of domestic violence.(6) In this culture of machismo and brutality, is the idea that women should be controlled by any means necessary. Often times, brought on by jealousy, women suffer as a consequence to an injured ego.

However, there is a chain of events occurring in some of these areas. Due to international pressure, some Latin American countries have come to recognize femicide as a crime and are adopting measures to eliminate violence against women and girls. In 2009, Guatemala became the first in Latin America to declare femicide a punishable crime, and has established government programs for women's shelters.(7) Honduras has also made this declaration. Both El Salvador and Bolivia signed the Comprehensive Law which broadens the protection for women from different forms of violence.(8, 9) Crimes of femicide in Bolivia is subjected to imprisonment for up to 30 years. However, much more work needs to be done. Recognizing and defining these crimes is a good place to start. Ensuring that the perpetrators are punished so that women and girls do not have to live in fear is where we should be headed.


For International Women's day, we highlight crimes committed towards women specifically because of their gender in Latin America.

Watch the film, FEMICIDE IN LATIN AMERICA. After viewing, please take a few minutes to provide your responses to the film at femicidedoc.womenforaction.org. Not a Women For Action member? Click to become one and be a part of the conversation.

Breaking the Silence

Works Cited

1.     Femicide: A Global Problem. (2012, February 1). Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/H-Research_Notes/SAS-Research-Note-14.pdf
2.     Domfeh, B. (2014, August 7). Femicide Looms Over Latin America. Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.coha.org/femicide-looms-over-latin-america
3.     Hastings, D. (2014, January 10). 'Femicide' on the rise in Central America. Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/femicide-rise-central-america-article-1.1552233
4.     Kelly, A. (2011, May 28). Honduran police turn a blind eye to soaring number of 'femicides' Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/may/29/honduras-blind-eye-femicides
5.     Central America: Femicides and Gender-Based Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://cgrs.uchastings.edu/our-work/central-america-femicides-and-gender-based-violence
6.     Meacham, C., & Forman, J. (2013, March 8). In Latin America, Women Still Confront Violence. Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://csis.org/publication/latin-america-women-still-confront-violence
7.     Hastings, D. (2014, January 10). 'Femicide' on the rise in Central America. Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/femicide-rise-central-america-article-1.1552233
8.     El Salvador: Women in parliament unite on new law against violence. (2011, March 21). Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/03/21/el-salvador-women-in-parliament-unite-on-new-law-against-violence.html
9.     UN welcomes new Bolivian law broadening protection of women from violence. (2013, March 12). Retrieved March 7, 2015, from http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44351#.VPn9Kfx4rz0
Julene Allen Julene Allen Author


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