Shadow Pandemic: Femicide Crisis in Honduras
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The Republic of Honduras is a country in Central America, and it’s bothered to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Gulf Fonseca. The country has a population of approximately 10 million and classified by the world bank as lower middle-income country with levels of income inequality higher than in any other Latin American country.

Honduras is no exception to poverty, corruption and gang violence which have dominated the country for decades. Honduras as part of the Northern Triangle has been described as the world’s epicentre for gender-based violence making it one of the deadliest places for women on earth.

Data available indicates that 6.2 out of 100,000 women were murdered as a result of femicide in 2019—the most noteworthy figure in Latin America and the Caribbean. Statistics gathered in 2021 captures a femicide in Honduras every thirty-six hours; at the start of February, four women were violently murdered in a period of forty-eight hours.

Women here are persecuted not only by their intimate partners or non-partner and gang members but also many are compelled into compromising and dangerous situations for survival, and there is little to no work available, especially for women.

The ‘shadow pandemic’ reached a crescendo in 2014 when 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, the crowned Miss Honduras was murdered after attending her sister’s boyfriend’s party. Maria Jose Alvarado and her sister, 23-year-old Sofia Trinidad were shot numerous times by Sofia’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Plutarco Ruiz, who was also known as the most powerful man in Santa Barbara. Plutarco shot Sofia out of a fit of jealousy, and as Maria tried to flee the scene, he shot her 12 times in the back. Both sister’s bodies were later found in Cablotales village, near the River Aguagua.

The culture of impunity is further heightened by punitive laws and revision of “the constitution to make it virtually impossible to overturn the country’s abortion laws”.

Gender-Based Violence (GBV), as clearly explained by the United Nations Population Fund, denotes an action “that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women…whether occurring in public or private life.” Data from the World Health Organization indicates that 30% of women globally have been beaten, forced to have sex, or abused in some way.

While public health emergency measures have been pivotal in controlling the spread of Covid-19, they likewise affect women and girls living in the danger of GBV as many of the factors that trigger or perpetuate violence against women and girls are accentuated by repressive measures.

The UN-Women Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean, María-Noel Vaeza in an incisive report on GBV during the Covid-19 pandemic, notes that stay-at-home orders compounded perpetrators’ use of instruments of power and control against women and girls, and economic hardships and stress associated with lockdown measures may occasion a feeling of loss of power and this may further increase the frequency and severity of abusive behaviour.

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