The pain that María Estela Guevara feels over the disappearance of her niece Wendy Martínez remains as intense as it was four years ago, when she learned that the young woman, then 31, had vanished without a trace in eastern El Salvador.
Several initiatives are seeking to strengthen the fight against femicides in Latin America, a region which, despite growing popular mobilisation and pioneering legislation against gender-based murders, still has the world's worst rates in what has been described as a "silent genocide," says U.N. Women.
Crime, a key issue in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's election in Brazil, has a dimension that is gaining in visibility and could turn against his government: gender violence.
Peru began the year with 11 femicides in January, despite progress made in laws and statutes and mass demonstrations against gender-based violence. This situation is also seen in other Latin American countries, raising the need to delve deeper into the causes of the phenomenon.
"In 2001 I was raped. I was 31 years old, had two university degrees and was still doing postgraduate studies, I had family, friends, a job. Many more resources than most rape victims have. Even so, it was the start of an ordeal whose scars I still feel today."
Left blind by a beating from her ex-husband, Susana Gómez barely managed to avoid joining the list of nearly 2,800 femicides committed annually in Latin America, but her case shows why public policies and laws are far from curtailing gender-based violence in the region.
From the Argentine slogan "Ni una menos" (Not one [woman] less)" to Colombia’s “Now is not the time to remain silent”, activism against gender violence has grown in Latin America since 2015, with campaigns that have social and cultural differences from the "MeToo" movement that emerged later, in 2017, in the United States.
The political crisis triggered in Peru by the presidential pardon of former president Alberto Fujimori granted on Christmas Eve casts a shadow of doubt over what actions will be taken to curb violence against women in this country, where 116 femicides were registered in 2017, and which ranks eighth with respect to gender-related murders in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A "conservative and fundamentalist onslaught" in Latin America against a supposed "gender ideology" is jeopardising advances in the fight against violence towards women, feminist activists complain.
In January 2008, Rosana Galliano was shot to death in Exaltación de la Cruz, a rural municipality 80 km from Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Her ex-husband, José Arce, who was sentenced to life in prison, had hired hitmen to kill her.
When Bimla Chandrasekharan saw that women who gave birth to baby girls were being sent out of the house by their angry husbands and mothers-in-law she realised a basic biology lesson was needed.
Four months in hospital and a number of operations saved the life of Maria da Penha Fernandes of Brazil, but the rifle shot left her paraplegic at the age of 37. When she returned home, her husband tried to electrocute her in the bathroom.
Peruvians took to the streets en masse to reject violence against women, in what was seen as a major new step in awareness-raising in the country that ranks third in the world in terms of domestic sexual violence.
In the wake of the massive response to their call to protest violence against women in Argentina, the organisers of this week’s demonstrations are starting to plan the steps to be taken to get results for their demand “Ni Una Menos” (not one less), taking advantage of the strength in numbers shown to obtain political support for public policies aimed at protecting women.
The murder of a young Argentine girl on a beach in neighbouring Uruguay shook both countries and drew attention to a kind of violence that goes almost unnoticed as a cause of death among Argentine adolescents: femicide.
“I just want all this to be over,” Yakiri Rubí Rubio, a young Mexican woman facing trial for killing the man who raped her in December 2013, laments to IPS.
The number of femicides – gender-related murders – in Brazil has reached civil war-like proportions. In just 10 years 40,000 women were killed in this country merely for being women.
Douglas Cuc, a 32-year-old clown, entered the courtroom with the same smile on his face as when he told jokes for coins on the buses in the town of San Miguel Petapa, near the Guatemalan capital. But this time there was no greasepaint on his face, he did not wear his clown's nose, and he was in handcuffs.
Several brutal, high-profile murders of women in the last few weeks in El Salvador are just the latest reminder that this is one of the countries in the world with the highest number of femicides, the term used to describe the killing of women because they are female.
Ecuador hopes to move forward in the fight against violence against women by typifying femicide – gender-motivated killings – as a specific crime in the new penal code.
At the intensive care unit of the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi, a two-year-old battered baby girl is fighting to survive.