The Drug-War Femicides
Sunday 14 August 2011
by: Patsilí Toledo , Project Syndicate | News Analysis
(Image: JR / t r u t h o u t)
In countries like
But the reality of
Nonetheless, femicide in
That difference underscores a fundamental reality: violence associated with the “war on drug trafficking” and organized crime – including state corruption – in some countries has specific consequences for women. Just as in war, cruelly raping women is symbolic: it creates cohesion within armed groups, reaffirms “masculinity,” and is a form of attacking “the enemy’s morale.”
But “domestic” violence is also worsening: although women all over the world are threatened by their partners, the risk is substantially raised when men have easy access to arms and a very slight probability of being taken to court, as is the case in
Since 2007, various laws have been adopted specifically to sanction femicides: in
It is not clear whether these laws will actually punish the crimes or merely reduce the visibility of the numbers: if a crime requires certain difficult-to-prove elements in order to be considered a femicide, a large number of murders will remain on the books as simple homicides, and the authorities will be able to say they have “reduced” the femicide rate.
In countries such as Chile or Costa Rica – as in much of the world – advocates for women’s rights demand that the state prevent femicides by responding swiftly and effectively to death threats and abuse. In the most affected countries, they also demand that murderers be tried. But new laws are not enough, given severely debilitated police and judicial systems in much of the region.
As long as the “war on drugs” remains good business not only for traffickers and money launderers, but also for developed countries’ arms industry, the flood of weapons in the region will continue to fuel violence – including extreme manifestations against women – and weaken the judicial system. Uncontrolled arms, together with impunity, make killing easy and cheap.
To be sure, violence against women exists in times of peace. But it increases and worsens in times of war. The “war on drugs” must end, and that requires worldwide changes in drug-control policies that, unfortunately, no anti-femicide initiative mentions. Ending that war won’t eradicate femicides in Central America and
Patsilí Toledo is a lawyer from the University of Chile and a member of the Antigona Research Group on Gender and Law, of the Faculty of Law of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
Patsilí Toledo, a Chilean lawyer, is a member of the Antigona Research Group on Gender and Law at the Faculty of Law of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs