Earlier this month, lawmakers in Uruguay announced they were working on legislation that would classify femicide—the gender-motivated killing of women—as a crime. In an email interview, Patricia Leidl, a Vancouver-based international communications adviser, discussed government responses to crime against women across Latin America.
WPR: What has prompted the recent public outcry against violence against women in Latin America?
Patricia Leidl: The “recent” outcry over violence against Latin American women is in fact not recent at all. Since the early 1990s, human and women’s rights defenders have been raising the alarm over steadily climbing rates of gender-based violence in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with the sharpest increases beginning in 2006 and escalating by as much as 21 percent each year. In South America, human rights observatories have likewise reported steadily rising rates of violence against women—but most particularly in Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, of the 25 countries that are home to the highest femicide rates in the world, more than half are located in Latin America.