In some countries violence against women is far worse today, from a spike in femicides – the gender-based killing of women – in places like El Salvador and Honduras, where the drug war has become deadlier, to the disturbing trend of acid attacks against women in Colombia. In light of the Nov. 25 United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, this uptick leaves many questioning what can be done.
Last April Nadine Gasman, the head of UNiTE to End Violence against Women for Latin America and the Caribbean, a UN initiative that fights impunity and works to change cultural attitudes, attended a meeting with police, prosecutors, and justice ministries across the region to talk about violence against women.
"What was clear is that there is an increased number of [acts of] exacerbated cruelty," Ms. Gasman says. "We don't understand why."
Violence against women is linked to a number of factors, including hard economic times and communities where violent crime is endemic. But Gasman, like many observers, says that part of the spike in several countries could be attributed to different paces of change in society: Women are reporting crime more, but justice systems are not responding, making them even more vulnerable.