On Thursday, the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) released a report revealing that over 2,795 women over the age of 15 were killed in 2017 because of their gender in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The report, conducted by the Gender Equality Observatory branch of CEPAL, polled 23 countries throughout the region. Argentina fell somewhere in the middle of the spread, with 251 femicides in 2017, or 1.1 femicides for every 100,000 women in the country. The figure was almost exactly the same as 2016.
However, the figures vary slightly between the organizations that have been reporting femicide rates in Argentina over the years. For example, La Casa de Encuentro, reported Argentina’s count at 295 in 2017.
At the top of CEPAL’s list, El Salvador reported a staggering figure of 10.2 per 100.000 female inhabitants. On the other end was Chile, which had reported a rate of 0.5. However, the reason for this low number has to do with the fact that Chile only reported “intimate femicides,” or, in other words, femicides where the murderers and their victims had an intimate relationship. Overall, 57.6 percent of the reported cases fell under this qualification, so this could have a big effect on Chile’s figure. Excluding the countries who filed incomplete reports such as Chile, the lowest rate in the region would belong to Peru, with a rate of 0.7.
“Femicide is the most extreme expressions of violence against women,” said Alicia Bárcena, the executive secretary of CEPAL. “Neither the definition of the offense or its clearly visible statistics have been sufficient to eradicate this calamity that alarms and disturbs us every day.”
CEPAL called for immediate action in response to these grave statistics, and Bácena personally petitioned all of the countries in the region to prioritize public policies that aim to prevent and eradicate violence against women. In fact, 18 out of the 23 countries have already adjusted their laws to define femicide specifically with its own criminal punishment; Argentina took its first steps in this direction in 2012.
Argentine feminist movement Ni Una Menos has also been pushing harder for more legislative action against femicides since its conception in 2015. However, in reviewing the recently approved 2019 Budget Bill, it appears that, in real terms, the government is cutting back on funding for the National Women’s Institute — a governmental organization that works on laws dedicated to eradicating femicides, among other things. The government is only granting a roughly 10 percent increase for next year, even though this year’s inflation rate largely surpassed the figure allotted, and next year’s optimistic projections expect for the yearly inflation rate to clock in at roughly 23 percent.
CEPAL noted that policy makers should be aware that most violence against women is determined, beyond sexuality and gender, by differences in race, age, class, and culture. That is to say, the types of violence and rates of violence vary significantly between these classifications of people. Thus, the laws should reflect these variations in characteristics.
Unfortunately, it is still difficult to compare these findings with any other region of the world, as most other reports only look at intimate femicides and therefore don’t get the whole picture.