As we enter Women’s History Month, the spotlight is once again on the issue of femicide and the lack of progress toward gender equality made in Latin America and the Caribbean. The numbers speak for themselves: In the first two months of the year, Chile registered five femicides and 17 attempted homicides on women, 30 femicides in Peru, and a horrifying approximate of 160 femicides in Mexico. To make matters worse, these numbers don’t include the murders of transgender women like Alexa Negrón Luciano who was brutally killed in Puerto Rico last month.
The lack of progress has left many women disenchanted with their governments. In Mexico, the election of “progressive” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was supposed to bring much needed change to tackle the wave of violence against women experienced in the country. However, the femicide rate has only gone up. Rather than taking accountability, AMLO has simply brushed off the rise in gender-based murders as the result of the “neoliberal policies” of previous administrations. He even insinuated the feminist national strike scheduled for March 9 was part of a conservative plot against his government.
But progress is being made, if slowly, in other countries in the region. In Chile, Sebastian Piñera recently signed a law expanding the definition of femicide to include non-married partners and increasing penalties for killing pregnant women, minors, and disabled women. Prior to the approval of the Gabriela Law—named after Gabriela Alcaino, a young women killed by her boyfriend in 2018—the country’s femicide law was restricted to the murder of live-in partners or spouses.