Despite Legal Protections, Violence Against Women Is Spiking in Bolivia

Despite Legal Protections, Violence Against Women Is Spiking in Bolivia
Aymara women and activists during a march against gender violence, La Paz, Bolivia, Oct. 19, 2016 (AP photo by Juan Karita). Bolivia is the most violent country in Latin America for women.

It is the most violent country in Latin America for women. As lawmakers and activists struggle against a culture of machismo and a legal system unequipped to enforce laws designed to protect women, there are calls for the government to declare a national emergency.

Ninety-three women have been murdered in Bolivia this year by their partners or spouses, 32 more than last year. That spike drove thousands of Bolivians into the streets of six cities late last month, on Nov. 25, the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Marchers demanded that the government declare the situation a national emergency, under the terms of an anti-violence law that hasn’t fulfilled its promise to protect women.

In the largely indigenous city of El Alto, demonstrations took on a festive air with balloons and free paper hats denouncing violence. It was organized by the city government with the participation of hundreds of secondary school students and dozens of nonprofit organizations. “I’m here because this demonstration helps to value women,” 16-year-old Mayte Viscano said. “The violence must stop.”

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