Landmark election must end murder spree of women sweeping Honduras

Campaigners say new government must overhaul the failing judicial system to halt the steep rise in violence against women

Election year in Honduras is likely to be the worst ever for the murder of woman following an eight per cent increase in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period last year said international agency Oxfam today. The figures on women’s murder come for a recent study by the Violence Observatory National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).

Oxfam joined Honduran campaigners and women’s groups to warn that the rise in violence against women will continue to escalate unless the new government takes radical steps to stem the epidemic. Honduras has one of the highest femicide rates in the world with an increase of 258 percent between 2002 and 2012.

“The women of Honduras should enjoy the same rights and protection under the law as men. By far the most urgent task for whoever wins power in Honduras is to end the murder spree against women,” said George Redman, Oxfam’s country director in Honduras. “Last year a woman was killed every 15 hours but fewer than two per cent of cases were investigated. Impunity for violence against women has to end – the new government must commit to an immediate overhaul of the justice system.”

As the Central American country gets ready to vote in the first election since the coup in 2009, campaigners are warning that the rise in violence against women will continue to escalate unless the government takes radical steps to stem the epidemic.

A network of Honduran women’s groups – the Women Tribune against Femicide – says record murder rates of women is yet further damning evidence that the Honduran Government is not doing enough to tackle domestic violence and violent crime. The new data suggests that while overall crime figures are reducing, women’s murder rates are climbing year on year.

An investigation into current court cases supported by Oxfam in June, made recommendations for change to the national government and judicial system and called on international governments to do more to hold the Honduran Government accountable to legally-binding commitments such as the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women.

Women’s rights groups in Honduras are also lobbying hard for greater political representation within government, better access to education and equal employment opportunities. Since the coup d´état in June 2009, women’s representation in national parliament has decreased from 24 to 19 percent and the number of women mayors in local government has decreased from nine to six percent.

Redman said: “Now is the time to redress the balance and make sure women do not only have the same rights as men but are able to go to work, school and walk down the street free from fear.”

Notes to editors

  1. New interviews, footage and photographs are available. Including material of Paloma Faith, the award-winning Singer-songwriter, who visited Honduras in October to meet women affected by violence.
  2. According to the Violence Observatory National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), the murder of women has increased by eight percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year.
  3. Oxfam supports the Women Tribune against Femicide – a national network of women linking poor rural women with national women’s organisations. There are ten women’s networks across the country campaigning to reduce violence against women and to end impunity. The project works with more than 2,200 women to demand and defend their rights through training (such as auditing of public policy and budgeting), radio and events. Cases of gender-based violence have been denounced and law suits filed in national and international civil human rights tribunals.
  4. The campaign is backed by research outlined in the report How the threads of impunity are sewn together and corroborated by the National Autonomous University of Honduras' (UNAH) Violence Observatory.

Contact information

For more information:

Francisco Pavón, media lead in Honduras can be contacted on +(504) 3174-4521 or FPavon@oxfam.org.hn, or Skype: francoithn

Related links

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