mercredi 19 avril 2006

Egalité des sexes_féminicides mexicains.Arch.UE

Grâce à
Obsolète définition du document d'avril 2006 et des suivantes - La nouvelle vous attend au chaud.

Est-ce que l'on va vraiment mieux, est-ce que la société est bien traitée lorsque l'on diminue, minimise, euphémise, éloigne les "féminicides" de soi ? Ou comme l'on peut bien dormir sur ses deux oreilles quand l'on ne voit les féminicides que loin là bas, sur l'autre continent, et exceptionnellement violents ! On ne fixe que l'extrême, et ce qu'il y a dessous, à la trappe ? Que de contradictions, que d'inconséquence et que de tolérance... ce n'est pas affaire de genre, ni mauvais, ni bon, ce n'est qu'histoire de l'inégalité des sexes.

Dernière victime ? Pas vraiment...
"Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and nullifies the enjoyment by of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The long-standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms is a matter of concern to all states and should be addressed."

The phenomenon was initially recognised in Mexico in Ciudad Juárez and in the City of
The  Mexican Chamber of Deputies´ "Special  Commission to study and review the
investigations of murders perpetrated against women in Mexico and promote justice for the
victims of feminicide", has coined the term Feminicide which describes murders of the women
and girls of exceptional brutality.
The daily newspaper, Prensa Libre, carried an article on 12 June 2004 about the discovery of
the body of 17-year-old Andrea Fabiola Contreras Bacaro on waste ground in Jocotenco,
Sacatepéquez. The article described the brutal murder, stating:
"She was found with her hands tied in a plastic bag which had been thrown into a ditch used
as a rubbish dump. Her throat had been cut, she had wounds and cuts on her face and chest
and she had been shot at close range in the head. She had been raped; her plastic sandals,
white blouse and underclothes were found next to her body".
The initial concerns on murders of women and girls were raised by NGOs in late 2001, which
were worried about the brutality of the killings of over 200 women since 1993 in Mexico and
the  wide impunity related to them.  The brutality of the murders and  the  impunity  of the
perpetrators are two characteristic features of feminicide.
Other distinctive marks, which can be connected to the feminicide, are  initial reactions  of
denial particularly at local level, lack of proper investigations, and the lack of willingness to
detain and bring to justice those responsible for the murders, discriminatory and disrespectful
attitude towards to the family members of the victims and even the blaming of the victims. ...
Feminicide can also continue because the authorities do not efficiently carry out their work to
prevent, avoid, and sanction crimes against women and girls, which are fed by a cultural and
social environment of machismo and misogyny.
The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, 1995, "FWCW Platform for Action: Violence
against Women.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala, AMR
34/017/2005, at
Alonso Jorge, 2005, "Marcela Lagarde: A Feminist Battles Feminicide",
Although the circumstances and lack of clarification make it difficult to characterize the
motivation behind the murders of women and girls with much certainty, there is general
agreement among both the State and non-state sectors that most relate to manifestations of
violence with gender specific causes and consequences. A substantial number are linked to
sexual violence and others to domestic violence. Some cases present multiple forms of such
Several studies on Feminicide in Guatemala and Mexico have shown that murders of the
women are integrally related to gender-based violence. While the murders may be attributed
to different motives and may have been committed by both state and non-state individuals,
studies shows that the violence has been usually gender-based; the gender of the victim would
appear to be a significant factor in the crime, influencing both the motive and the context, as
well as the kind of violence suffered by women. For example, in a number of cases there is
evidence that women were raped or subjected to some other form of sexual violence before
they died.
In many cases,  violence occurs in the family or within the home, where violence is often
tolerated. The neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and rape of girl children and women by
family members and other members of the  household, as well as incidences of spousal and
non-spousal abuse, often go unreported and are thus difficult to detect. Even when such
violence is reported, there is often a failure to protect victims or punish perpetrators.
The roots of violence are deep in the machismo culture in Central America and poverty has
exacerbated intra family violence. Violence is positive within machista culture: It is a central
component of the masculine identity's attributes of toughness, force and aggression.
In Costa Rica, 84% of victims of violence are women and 96% of sexual offenders are men.
Girls are 95% of incest victims and 32.5% of all raped girls have been raped by their own
fathers. A full 67% of all sexual aggression occurs in the home of the victim. In El Salvador,
one of every 6 women is raped and one of every 3 suffers sexual abuse, in which 94% of the
aggressors are men and over 50% were or are  effectively united with the women. The
majority of sexual violence cases occur in the home. In Nicaragua, physical mistreatment,
sexual abuse and violence are reported as the main expressions of violence against women.
Men known and connected to the family are 87% of the rapists and 60% of the rapes occur in
the victim's home. In Honduras, violence against girls is the main expression of intra family
violence. Among relatives, the father is the most frequent aggressor. In Panama, 90% of
sexual aggressions are against women and 41% are rapes. In 67% of the cases, sexually
attacked women declared that they knew the aggressor.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, 2003, "The Situation of the Rights of Women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico: The Right to be Free from
Violence and Discrimination, part II, at
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".
The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, 1995, "FWCW Platform for Action: Violence
against Women, para 117.In Guatemala, among the 80% of women who are accosted in their own homes, three
quarters of them were accosted by their husbands and more than half of these received serious
lesions from sharp weapons
According to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of women of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the killings of women in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico
since 1993 are strongly linked to and influenced by the prevalence of domestic and
intrafamilial violence.  Approximately, one-third to one-half of Mexican women, living as
part of a couple, has suffered some form of abuse at the hands of their partner. Women
between the ages  of  15 and 29, and pregnant women have been reported being especially
affected.  Domestic violence affects men, women and children and leads in extreme cases to
Feminicide  is said to be a result from a climate of generalised violence and discrimination
against women and leading to the attitude that "women are expendable and can be routinely
used, abused and discarded"
Discrimination has been a persistent feature of the various offences that have been committed
against women as well as in the response provided by the States. The  reaction of the
authorities to the disappearance of the young women, the way in which killings are
investigated and the inadequate protection programmes in place to prevent murders are all
examples of  discriminatory treatment. Furthermore, the fact that the vast majority of the
women murdered come from poor backgrounds means that they suffer discrimination on two
grounds: on the basis of both gender and social class.
The  lack of an effective official response is also part and parcel of the larger context  of
discrimination. The denial of an effective judicial response both springs from and feeds back
into the  perception that violence against women and especially domestic violence is not a
serious crime.
According to the US department of State, the  authorities in Guatemala have reported
receiving almost 10,000 complaints of family violence against women and children in
Guatemala City during 2004, yet only approximately 370 cases went to trial
Additionally, the absence of sex-disaggregated data in official documents means that genderrelated violence is generally under recorded and often rendered almost invisible. For example,
in the case of women who have been killed in Guatemala the numbers presented by the police
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, 2003, part II.
Council of Europe, resolution 1454, adopted on 21 June 2005,
Amnesty International, "Intolerable Killings, Mexico: 10 years of abduction and murder of women in Ciudad
Juarez and Chihuahua", AMR index 41/026/2003,
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, 2003, part II.
The U.S Department of state Country Reports of Human Rights Practises 2004, Guatemala, at 2004 attribute 175 deaths to gunshot, 27 to knife wounds and 323 to "other causes". The
categories, however, conceal the gender-based brutality and sexual nature of many of the
killings in which victims present evidence of rape, mutilation and dismemberment. Other
categories such as death from multiple trauma, head trauma or abdominal trauma do not
distinguish whether the deaths were accidental or the result of intentional harm, for example,
being beaten to death.
In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual
and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture. The low social
and economic status of women can be both a cause and a consequence of violence against
Violence against women is a manifestation of the  historically unequal power relations
between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against
women by men and to prevent women's full advancement. Violence against women
throughout the life cycle derives essentially from cultural patterns, in particular the harmful
effects of certain traditional or customary practices and all acts of extremism linked to race,
sex, language or religion that perpetuate the lower status accorded to women in the family, the
workplace, the community and society.
Traditional systems of power and patriarchy remain largely unchallenged in Central American
countries and stereotypes regarding the subordinated role of women in society are still firmly
. As recognised in the Convention of Belém de Pará, violence against women is
an expression of the  historically unequal power relations between women and men, and a
clear expression of gender discrimination. It is obvious that there is a  connection between
feminicide and violence towards women in the society.
Many social and judicial factors exacerbate the problem of violence against women. These
includes among others ... the women's lack of access to legal information, aid or protection,
the lack of laws that effectively prohibit violence against women, failure to reform existing
laws, inadequate efforts on the part of public authorities to promote awareness of and enforce
existing laws.
Impunity has been the hallmark of the investigation into cases of women been murdered.  In
each country where feminicide has been recognised, there has been a general unwillingness to
examine the murders of women. Unwillingness has appeared in all levels on the judicial
system. Neither authorities, police, prosecutors, courts nor politicians have shown willingness
to solve the crimes against women and protect them from new attacks. Although awareness
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".
The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, 1995, "FWCW Platform for Action: Violence
against Women, para 112.
Idem, para 118.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".
The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, 1995, "FWCW Platform for Action: Violence
against Women, para 118.with respect to feminicide has increased and  NGOs and civil society have pressed the
authorities to deal effectively with the killings, there are still no adequate investigations.
An example is the case of Claudina Isabel Velázquez Paíz, a 19-year-old law student. Her
body was found on 13 August 2005. She had been raped and shot in the head. As with the
hundreds of other cases of murdered women, preliminary investigations around the case were
unsatisfactory. Whilst forensic doctors carried out basic tests on Claudina's body, the
authorities failed to pursue important leads. No forensic tests were carried out on her clothes.
Instead, they were returned to her family, potentially losing important evidence. No tests were
carried out on the main suspects to determine whether they had fired a gun. Potential
witnesses and valuable leads were also reportedly not pursued.
A leading figure in Latin-American feminism, now a member of Mexico's Congress, Marcela
Lagarde, has defined feminicide as a hate crime against women, a misogynous crime forged
by the enormous social and state tolerance of gender violence.  Feminicide is fostered by
impunity, by haphazard investigations and mishandled findings. Access to justice and fair trial
have not become a reality because the authorities do not pay attention to the victims' charges
and seem to see women's lives as secondary or are biased against women, discrediting and
blaming them. Silence, omission, negligence and the collusion of authorities responsible for
preventing and eradicating crimes against women contribute to feminicide.
A large part of the killings of women and girls have occurred in urban areas which have also
witnessed a  dramatic rise in violent crime in recent years often linked to organized crime,
including drugs,  arms and people  trafficking,  pornographic rings and prostitution, or the
activities of street youth gangs known as  "maras". Although violent deaths have increased
generally, there has been a noticeable rise in the killings of women.
Since 1993, more than 400 women have been violently killed and there have been over 4,000
registered complaints of disappeared women in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua
In August 2003, Amnesty International published a report focusing on the 10-year cycle of
abduction and murders of girls and women in the cities of Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua in
northern Mexico.  The report documented more than 370 cases of women murdered. The
research indicated that at least 137 of these victims suffered some form of sexual violence and
at least 70 of the total number of women murdered remained unidentified. At least 70 other
Alonso Jorge, 2005, "Marcela Lagarde: A Feminist Battles Feminicide".
20,com_rightsalert/Itemid,0/task,view/alert_id,38/.women or girls also remained unaccounted for after having been officially reported missing.
In most of the cases, young women from poor background have been abducted, held captive
and sexually assaulted in a most ferocious manner before being murdered and left amongst
rubble on wasteland.
Ciudad Juarez is a gateway city in the State of Chihuahua and  one of the most densely
populated cities in Mexico. More than half of the population of the municipality consist of
people from other areas of the country or foreigners. A great number of people take up
temporary residence there, many of them living in miserable conditions, with the expectation
of crossing into the United States to work.
In this regard,  cultural, economic and social differences within the population generate
particularly complex problems. For the past 40 years, Ciudad Juárez has been a pole of
attraction for the maquiladora work force. In the 1970s and 1980s, as male unemployment
was on the rise, jobs were increasingly offered to young women as cheaper work force.
Alcohol consumption increased among the men, as did violence against women.  The
employment situation for male workers improved gradually until almost full employment was
reached  by the end of the 1990s. However, the US recession at the start of this decade hit
hard, triggering a new wave of unemployment. Four out of every five jobs lost in Chihuahua
were in Ciudad Juárez alone and the proportion between female and male employment again
tipped strongly in favour of women. Drug addition, alcoholism and violence increased.
The town has been marked by rising crime, including the penetration of organised crime and
drug trafficking, and an increase in gang activity and the presence of firearms. Notably, in this
regard, almost all the killings classified as executions in the State of Chihuahua take place in
Ciudad Juarez. These problems generate high levels of violence that affect all the people in
Ciudad Juarez.
According to the  Special Rapporteur on IACHR, the situation of women in Ciudad Juárez
shares many aspects common to other cities in the Mexico  and the region in  general. It  is
however different in certain important respects.
First, the homicide rate for women experienced an unusually sharp rise in Ciudad Juárez in
1993, and the rate has remained elevated since then.
Second, the rate of homicides for women compared to that for men is significantly higher than
for similarly situated cities or the national average.
Amnesty International, 2004: "Mexico: Ending the brutal cycle of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez
and the city of Chihuahua, AMR 41/011/2004, at
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Chihuahua, "Investigacíon sobre Mujeres Victimas de
Homicida Múltible en Ciudad Juárez".
Alonse Jorge, 2004, "Feminicide in Ciudad Juárez: A Multidimensional Challenge", at
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, 2003, part II.Third, the extremely brutal circumstances of many of the killings have served to focus
attention on the situation in Ciudad Juárez. A significant number of the victims were young,
between 15 and 25, and many were beaten and/or subjected to sexual violence before being
strangled or stabbed to death. A number of the killings that fit this pattern have been
characterized as multiple or serial killings.
Fourth, the response of the authorities to these crimes has been markedly deficient. The vast
majority of the killings remain without  prosecution or conviction, only  approximately 20%
have been investigated and brought to trial. Furthermore, when the rate of killings began to
rise, some of the officials responsible for investigation and prosecution began  blaming the
victim of the crime.
In all, the initial reaction to the feminicides, particularly at the state level was denial. The
authorities did not investigate crimes adequately and the root causes of the violence against
the women were not studied. The typical element for the brutal murders of women, namely
impunity, was and has been an essential part of the phenomena also in Mexico. The impunity
rate for cases of women murdered is yet very difficult to determine, mainly because the
information held by the authorities is extremely variable and contradictory. According to
Amnesty International a common practise has been for example to equate the number of
victims with the number of case files when, in fact, a file sometimes contains more than one
The Mexican State  has ratified the most important international  instruments which provide
protections for the rights of women and the rights of the child, including the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women.  Special relevance has  the
Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence
Against Women, which Mexico ratified on 1998.
At national level the Constitution  prohibits all forms of discrimination. With respect to the
Federal district of the State of Chihuahua, sexual crimes, domestic violence and marital rape
have been typified as crimes in the Criminal Code. The provision which  indicated that the
crime would not apply in the case of a girl not deemed "honest" was eliminated. Revisions to
the Civil Code of Chihuahua adopted in 2001 added two provisions that concern  domestic
As a result of intense national and international pressure, the Mexican Federal Government
acknowledged its responsibility to intervene in Ciudad Juárez. In 2003, a 40-point programme
of measures to improve the administration of justice, public security, and to strengthen
women's rights were announced and have begun to be implemented.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, 2003, part  III.According to the Secretary of Foreign Relations for Mexico, co-operation  and coordination
between the different federal, state and municipal authorities in charge of investigating the
murders of women  has been  improved and strengthened, although the Attorney General's
Office for the Republic has limited possibilities to intervene in the crimes, which fall under
the jurisdiction of State authorities.
Besides, with the respect  to  article 73, section XXI of the  Mexican  Constitution,  a draft
amendment has been introduced to the Senate with the aim of combating impunity in Ciudad
Juárez. This amendment would give the federal authorities jurisdiction over local crimes that
are related to human rights violations. This would allow the Prosecutor-General of the
Republic to exercise jurisdiction if state authorities fail to investigate murders or other violent
crime with due diligence.
In January 2004, a Special Federal Prosecutor was appointed to oversee the crimes related to
the murder of women in Ciudad Juarez. Because of the current constitutional limits to
jurisdiction, the Special Federal Prosecutor has only asserted jurisdiction in nine cases
involving 24 victims, and only little progress has been achieved.
The role of the federal Government was further strengthened when President Vincente Fox
appointed at the end of 2003  Guadalupe Morfin as  Special Commissioner heading a
Commission for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women in Ciudad
In its report the Secretary for Foreign Relations has pointed out that Mexico is also fighting
against the impunity of  public servants. According  to  his report, 101 public servants were
identified as probably having incurred in violations of administrative or penal law. However,
by the time the Special Rapporteur visited Mexico, none of the 101 officials identified by the
Special Federal Prosecutor had been indicted by the State Prosecutor-General, who has
exclusive jurisdiction in the matter. Instead, most of the 101 cases were dropped. Only five
officials were indicted, but local judges dismissed the charges against them on the ground that
the statute of limitation had lapsed.
Amnesty International has been concerned about the failure of the investigating and judicial
authorities, particularly at State level, to consider the murder of women and young girls as
part of a pattern of violence against women, rather than as individual criminal acts. There has
been an ongoing failure to take into account gender issues, social background and the full
nature of the violence suffered by victims.
Information on the Actions undertaken by the Mexican Government to combat Violence against Women in
Jiudad Juárez, Secretary of Foreign Relations, November 2005.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Mexico, E/CN.4/2006/61/Add.4, para
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Mexico,  para 48.
Idem, para 50.The report by the  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recognised that while some
improvements had  been made in recent years, the State had failed to consider all the
dimension of the crimes, such as abduction, rape and physical cruelty suffered by the victims.
The report  also  highlights fundamental flaws in judicial procedures that have undermined
effective investigations, destroyed credibility in the judicial system and regularly produced
violations of the fundamental rights of relatives of victims and criminal suspects.
The Council of Europe has pointed out in its resolution of 21 June 2005 that despite political
will, a general commitment and the efforts by the State and federal authorities, too many
cases  have remained unsolved and too many victims unidentified. Regarding the resolution,
reactions of the authorities can only be considered insufficient and has led to the impression
that the authorities were unable to control the situation.
The  United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women has concluded in her
report that the Government of Mexico has taken significant steps to prevent, punish and
eradicate violence against women with due diligence. However, there is still a lot of work to
be done, in particular  at the level of investigation, prosecution, law enforcement and
prevention. One conclusion of the Special Rapporteur regards the responsiveness of the police
and the justice sector to the gender-based violence, which remains inadequate overall.
The Government of Mexico seems to have true willingness to  eradicate feminicide and
change the traditional attitudes in respect of violence against women in  Mexican society.
However, the murders continue in Ciudad Juárez. According to the National Commission of
Human Rights, at least 38 women were murdered between January 2004 and August 2005
The precise number of women who have been murdered in Guatemala is unknown and
disputed. Figures vary among institutions and are based on different criteria. According to the
Committee on Feminicide in Guatemala, there  has been a steady increase in the number of
women murdered with 303 in 2001, 317 in 2002, 383 in 2003, 531 in 2004 and 665 in 2005,
totalling 2199 reported cases.
The pattern of murders of women in Guatemala show
similarities with those reported in Mexico. The rate, at which women are being killed,
however, is much higher in Guatemala
. Although 370 women were killed in Chihuahua,
Mexico, over a 10-year period starting in 1993), more women were killed in Guatemala for
example in 2003 alone.
Informe de la Comisión de Expertos Internacionales de la ONU, Oficina de las Naciones Unidas Contra la
Droga y el Delito sobre la Misión en Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México.
Council of Europe, resolution 1454, adopted on 21 June 2005.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Mexico, para 63.
Idem, para 45.
Comisión para el Abordaje del Femicidio, Guatemala, 8 March 2006.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women". Mission to Guatemala, E/CN.4/2005/72/Add.3, para
In Guatemala the 36-year armed conflict has left country in a situation, where the society is
living with multi-dimensional problems. Violence belongs as an essential part rooted in socioeconomic inequality, poverty and exclusion. Especially, the problems of unequal land
distribution and income disparity are touching upon the indigenous groups
Currently, most of Guatemala's population is rural but urbanization is accelerating. Guatemala
City is expanding at an amazing rate, when generally impoverished farmers move to the
outskirts of the city temporarily or permanently seeking higher wages
. Rapid urbanization
causes rootless, broken families, exploitation of people who are trying desperately to reach a
better living, alcoholism and in many cases violence. The position of women is particularly
vulnerable.  Sexual exploitation and trafficking have a favorable ground to grow. On an
individual level, family abandonment, unstable relationships and alcoholism among males,
unemployment, and attempts to preserve patriarchal power over women contribute to
domestic violence and undermine opportunities for the promotion of non-violence
relationship in future generations.
The prevalence of violence against women in Guatemala today has its roots in historical and
cultural values which have maintained women's subordination and which were most evident
during the armed conflict.
The commission for Historical Clarification (Comisión para el
Esclarecimiento Hitòrico, CEH) had estimated in its report from the year 1999 that some
200,000 Guatemalans had either been killed or disappeared, the vast majority during the first
half of the 1980s. The CEH blamed security forces for 93 per cent of these crimes. It
concluded that women and girls had been raped and in some cases gang raped during
massacres of the Mayan population. Soldiers reportedly committed also other acts of extreme
cruelty against women.
The vast majority of women who were victims of human rights violations during counterinsurgency campaigns lead by the Guatemalan army during the early 1980s were members of
Mayan indigenous groups living in rural areas, whereas most of the reported murder victims
in Guatemala today are ladino
women living in urban areas of the country.
Escalating crime and issues relating to human and public security are a matter of concern in
Guatemala as elsewhere in Latin  America. The failure to  prosecute those suspected of
involvement in criminal gangs and organized crime has undermined faith in the rule of law
and the system of administration of justice. At the same time, the consolidation of illegal
clandestine groups has also contributed to lawlessness and the crisis in public security. In
Idem, para 5.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Guatemala, para 25.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala.
Recovery of Historical Memory Project, Guatemala Never Again! New York: Orbis Books, 1999.
People of indigenous and Spanish origin, who speak Spanish as their first language.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".recent years, violent deaths have increased generally but the noticeable rise in killings of
women is of particular concern.
According to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women of the Public
Ministry, the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, as well as press reports, a number of the
bodies of the victims bear signs of sexual violence. Some of the victims had had their throats
cut, or had been beaten, shot or stabbed to death. Some bodies were mutilated. Many women
were abducted and sometimes held for several hours or even days, before being murdered.
Studies done by official bodies indicate that the murders are concentrated in urban areas such
as Guatemala City and Escuintla town in the department of Escuintla. Most of the women
who have been killed over the last few years were adolescent girls or women under age of 40.
According to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, of the 152 cases
it was investigating as of August 2004, just over a third of the victims were under age of 20,
while a further half were between the ages of 21 and 40.
The report of the Human Rights
Ombudsman Office's on 2003 shows that more than half of the 360 victims were aged
between 13 and 36.
Many were housewives, and a number were students or professionals. Many came from poor
sector of society, working in low paid jobs as domestic employees, shops or factory workers.
Some were migrant workers from neighbouring countries in Central America. Among the
victims were women from particularly marginalized groups, including members or former
members of youth gangs and sex workers.
According to the Network of Non-Violence against Women (Red de la No Violencia Contra
la Mujer), a third of all cases of murder take place within the family after the victims have
suffered violent incidents and attacks, often in silence, for many years. In some cases, the
victims were wives or former partners who were murdered after lodging formal complaints of
ill-treatment. Some of the victims were murdered reportedly because they did not belong to,
or refused to join a particular gang or because they wanted to leave a gang.
The Human Rights Ombudsman claims that agents of the PNC might be responsible for at
least 10 of the murders of women. Some of the murders are thought to be part of ongoing
"social cleansing" operations conducted by organized crime networks
The authorities in Guatemala have failed to ensure an effective justice system, which could
have prevented an escalation in the number of killings: the absence of protection, the lack of
adequate documentation and the lack  of willingness to establish the identity of the
perpetrators and bring them to justice, means impunity.
Report of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, August 2004.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Guatemala,  para 58.Amnesty International has found serious and persistent shortcomings in the way the
authorities have responded to many cases regarding killings of women at every stage of the
investigative process. These deficiencies have included delays and  insufficient efforts by
police to locate women who have been missing, failure to protect the crime scene once a body
has been discovered or gather necessary forensic or other evidence, and failure to follow up
on possible crucial evidence. In many cases, investigations have been partial, while in others
they have just not taken place. A lack of training in investigative techniques, lack of technical
resources and lack of coordination and cooperation between state institutions particularly
between police investigation units and the offices of the Public Ministry has meant that many
cases have not gone beyond the initial investigation stage.
The Women's Office of the Ministerio Público and the special unit of the PNC reported that
40 per cent of the cases are filed and never investigated. The unit has claimed lack of
resources and personnel to carry out proper investigations. According to  the  National
Coordinator for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Violence against Women
(CONAPREVI), not one of the murders committed in 2004 had been taken to court.
Guatemala's Constitution affirms the principle of equality between the sexes. The country has
ratified the majority of international and regional instruments providing protection for
women's rights: The UN convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against
women (1982) and its Optional Protocol (2002), as well as the Inter-American Convention on
the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (1995).
The government passed the Law for the Dignity and Integral Promotion of Women, the Law
to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence in the Family.
Despite the advances, the Penal code does not define violence against women in the family,
including marital rape, and sexual harassment as a criminal offence. There are also some
discriminatory provisions that preclude women from having the full protection of the law. For
example, chapter VII, article 200, of the Penal Code exonerates perpetrators of rape if the
perpetrator marries the victim, provided that the victim is over 12 years age. With such a
clause, Guatemala's legal system sanctions putting victim at risk of further physical and
psychological trauma by condemning them to a life with their rapist. Additionally,
perpetrators of crimes of a sexual nature, most of which are committed against women, are
highly like to be pardoned.
On 8 March 2005, a Special Commission for the Investigation on Feminicide in Guatemala
was established, chaired by the Minister of Women's Affairs, Mrs Gabriela Núnez Pérez.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, 2005, "Integration of the Human rights  of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Guatemala,  para 59.
Amnesty International 2005, "Guatemala: No protection, no justice: killings of women in Guatemala".
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women,  2005, "Integration of the Human rights of
women and a gender perspective: Violence against women", Mission to Guatemala