Crime & Justice

Impunity, normalization of violence seen as driving femicides in Bolivia

By Yolanda Salazar

La Paz, Jun 28 (EFE).- Impunity and the “normalization” of violence against women are seen as driving femicides in Bolivia, where six gender-related killings occurred last week and 45 in the first half of 2023.

The Attorney General’s Office said 45 femicides and 10 infanticides happened between Jan. 1 and June 27, most of them in Santa Cruz, La Paz and Cochabamba, that Andean nation’s three most populated departments.

Although the number is down from 47 femicides last year and 60 in 2021, what most concerns women’s rights defenders is the extreme violence that partners, boyfriends or former spouses have inflicted on their victims.

Zenobia, Samanta, Rosa, Eliana, Katherine and Amelia, mostly young women who were stabbed or brutally beaten, fell victim to last week’s gender-related violence.

Samanta was found dead alongside her two-year-old daughter, both of whom had their throats slit, while Katherine was found in a well in La Paz after having been reported missing.

Tania Sanchez, the director of the Women’s Coordinator, a network of roughly a score of private non-profit institutions that work to promote gender equality, told Efe that the level of “premeditation” in these cases is cause for concern.

These groups also are troubled by the fact that young people make up most of both victims and the aggressors, who replicate the violence they have seen in their homes and other environments and act as though their romantic partners belong to them.

Around 70 percent of the slain women are under the age of 40, according to Sanchez, who said that in 60 percent of the cases the perpetrators were the woman’s spouse or boyfriend.

For her part, the national coordinator of Fundacion Voces Libres (Free Voices Foundation), Mercedes Cortez, told Efe that gender violence is snowballing, in part because the influence of video games and TV is making the younger generation see certain highly aggressive behaviors as “normal.”

“We’re reaping this violence that’s been normalized, and that’s why we see men under 30 in 70 percent of all femicides,” Cortez said.

She and Sanchez also highlighted the impunity that surrounds these cases, noting that very few perpetrators are punished and the families of slain women spend years in courts and prosecutor’s offices to no avail.

According to Bolivia’s AG’s office, 95 percent of the suspects in the 45 femicides that have occurred so far this year are in pretrial detention, but only 10 have been sentenced via face-track procedure.

Sanchez, for her part, said justice system delays and the lack of thorough and effective investigations make men unafraid of committing these crimes and also discourage women from denouncing them.

“In general, the justice system in Bolivia appears to be an accomplice to the perpetrators of these crimes,” she added.

As far as solutions, both women called for a comprehensive prevention plan, efforts to introduce the subject of gender violence into school curricula, an urgent re-engineering of the justice system and the allocation of government funds to tackle the problem.

Citing figures from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Sanchez said Bolivia has the highest rate of violence against women in South America and the fourth-highest in the entire LAC region. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button