Thursday, July 19, 2012

How the Drug Trade Fuels Femicide in Central America

How the Drug Trade Fuels Femicide in Central America

The region has seen a huge rise in murders of women in the last decade (see graph, below). El Salvador currently has the worst femicide rate in the world with 13.9 per 100,000 women while Guatemala (third in the world) and Honduras (seventh) have rates of 9.8 and 7.2 respectively.
Last week Honduras released figures showing at least 150 women were killed in the first half of 2012, with police telling El Heraldo that many of the killings were linked to drug traffickingIn Guatemala, meanwhile, the national forensic institute (INACIF) revealed that 337 women were murdered in the first half of 2012. Though this represents an 11.5 percent drop from the same period in 2011, Guatemala remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.
In a macho culture, attacking (either to kill or rape) "someone's woman", is a meaningful act, not for the woman, but what she represents as a thing under the control ('protection') of the someone.  Any time you demonstrate you can reach so-n-so's "woman" and harm her, you've demonstrated your reach extends to so-n-so as well.  It's like the horse head scene in The Godfather: we can get to you, in your own bedroom, and you can't stop us. 

The article says:

One reason for this is that the drug trade is pervaded by a macho culture that drives violence towards females. Women who are seen to associate with gangs, either through family ties or relationships with gang members, can become targets for rivals. Raping and brutally executing these women can be used as a tactic to strike at their enemies, and even as a bonding mechanism for gangs. As Chilean lawyer Patsil Toledo has noted, as well as helping to attack the "enemy morale," attacking and "cruelly raping women is symbolic [in another way]; it creates cohesion within armed groups."
In much the same way that rape is used as a tool of war in more recognized armed conflict.  The article says:

Women have also been used as vessels for gangs to send a message to the authorities. For example, in May last year, a gang in Guatemala decapitated a girl, leaving her head in a phone box with a message warning the authorities not to go through with plans to crack down on extortion.
The flippant thing I could say is these assholes will be first against the wall when the (feminist) revolution comes.  But that doesn't help these women.  The U.S. and the rest of the 'global north' needs to act.  The biggest motivators for joining gangs in the first place are to have a sense of belonging and future.  We know that, whether you're talking about maras or the Crips and the Bloods. 

Legalize these drugs, legitimize the industry.  Don't beat 'em, let them join you.  And, raise the standard of living of peoples in these countries, so life, even that of a worthless female, isn't so goddamn cheap a girl gets her head cut off to send a message to the Guatemalan police.

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