Violence against women surges in Latin America (GRAPHIC PHOTOS)
Police rarely prosecute crimes against women.
Women are being brutalized and murdered in Latin America because laws and police routinely fail to protect them. In Guatemala and El Salvador, crimes against women go largely unpunished and many victims can be left dead in the streets with their murders unworried about prosecution.
According to a 2012 report by Small Arms Survey, and independent research operation in Geneva, reported by Reuters, 5,000 women have been murdered in Guatemala alone in the past decade. That's 500 women per year, nearly two women per day.
Known as femcide, this particular form of violence is perpetrated against women because they are women. It also goes largely unpunished.
Beatings, sexual assaults, robberies, and even murder are typical offenses. Only about 10 percent of the cases are successfully prosecuted. Violence against women done in the home is almost never punished, with most assuming that domestic affairs are just that, and the police have no business intervening.
The result is femcide, with bodies thrown in garbage heaps, or even on the streets.
Police lack the training to identify and handle these crimes. Often police are overburdened with cartel violence, which forms the bulk of their enforcement efforts as cartels war over control of lucrative trade routes into the United States.
Most victims are young women, under the age of 26, and they typically show signs of rape and torture suffered before they are murdered. This is a horrible way to die, and a terrible way to live.
New laws have been passed to punish those who commit crimes against women, however men are rarely arrested or charged, even in cases where they are obviously guilty. The laws are useless in the face of casual police enforcement.
Most often the perpetrators are husbands, boyfriends, or spurned lovers.
Local human rights groups say police need more training and more compulsion to take action on these crimes, which strike at women and girls. For now, there appears no change in sight for women, even with the new laws on the books.
A police officer looks over the body of a young woman. Murdered women are often tossed into garbage heaps and onto streets.
A woman examines the body of another victim of femcide.
Women walk quickly past the body of another victim. How many of these women know violence in their homes?
This woman was lucky that she survived her assault. The perpetrator most likely will evade justice.
A man laughs as he and others are sentenced for crimes including rape and murder. Less than 10 percent of crimes against women are successfully prosecuted in Guatemala.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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