‘War on Drugs’ leaves Latin American women lives in ruin
Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente – WNN Opinion
(WNN) Cartegena, COLOMBIA: “Violence associated with the ‘war on drugs’ and organized crime, which includes government corruption in some countries have specific consequences for women in Latin America”, said the Chilean lawyer Patsili Toledo, member of ‘Antígona’ a research group of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a specialist in the subject of femicide in the continent.
For the very first time, feminist organizations are demanding that American governments make a review of their current policies against drugs. Hundreds of organizations in different countries in Latin American, including Argentina, are raising their voices to warn on the non-visible impact of the “war on drugs” in the lives of women in the region, especially regarding the increasing of Femicide.
As in war, cruel rape of women is symbolic: it creates cohesion within the armed groups, reaffirmed the “masculinity” and is a way of attacking “the enemy’s moral.” But the “domestic” violence is getting worse too: While there are women around the world who are threatened by their partners, the risk increases substantially when men have easy access to weapons and less likely to be brought to justice, as in Mexico and Guatemala, where impunity rate exceeds 95 percent.
There is also another side of the relationship of drug trafficking and a woman is: That many of them end up in prison for drug offenses; federal prisons in Argentina show this phenomenon: Most women inmates are accused of drug trafficking in small scale, like mules
According to Toledo, this war has showed to be harmful for women: The homicide of women has increased in Central America and Mexico; in countries as Honduras, the increasing is four times higher than the rate for men. Many of these crimes include sexual aggression, tortures and mutilation: “The rate of homicides where the victim is a woman in El Salvador is the highest in the region: 13, 9 per 100.000 women. In Guatemala, the rate is 9, 80 per 100.000 and in some Mexican states like Chihuahua, Baja California and Guerrero, the rate tripled between 2005 and 2009 reaching 11, 1 per 100.000. In contrast, rates in countries like Chile and Argentina do not exceed 1.4 per 100,000 and the most of them occurred in the context of domestic abuse.” stated Toledo.
The call is made by the Regional Union of Feminist for Human Rights and Gender Justice organizations formed by six Latin American countries: E.L.A Latinamerican Team for Justice and Gender (Argentina) Corporación Humanas (Chile, Colombia and Ecuador), Equis: Justice for Women (Mexico) and Demus: Bureau for the Defense of the Rights of Women (Peru). Recognized activists like Anna Carcedo (Costa Rica), Marcela Lagarde (Mexico) and Socorro Ramirez (Colombia) also have joined the initiative.
With two weeks to the Summit of the Americas to be held on 14 and 15 April in the Colombian city of Cartagena, NGOs are calling for governments to discuss a change in anti-drug policies: “Violence against women, deeply rooted in sexism and structural discrimination against women, increases in the current context of armed violence in the region, directly related to drug trafficking. Therefore, the severity of this situation requires an urgent review of current drug policy in order to reduce violence and corruption that feeds extreme forms of violence against women, “says the statement signed by the organizations.
Patsili Toledo pointed that the war on drug must end in the way they are doing it, because so far, it’s just a good business for the traffickers, money launderers and countries that sell arms: “The massive use of weapons, feeds violence and undermining the judicial system; impunity and lack of control, make murdering easier and cheaper.”
And she added that certainly, violence against women exists in peacetime. But it increases and gets worse in times of war. The “war on drugs” requires global changes in drug control policies that, unfortunately, no law against femicide approved in recent years in the region mentioned: “Ending the war will not eradicate the femicides in Central America and Mexico, but could at least reduce the rate of murders of women at more “healthy” figures in other countries that are lucky to be further from the main trafficking routes.” She concluded.
WNN – Women News Network culture columnist and Latin American social critic Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a feminist, and a Muslim woman, living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Chile, Rivera is also an enthusiastic speaker on issues of gender and empowerment who has led volunteer programs for rural communities in the Peruvian highlands. Through her human rights work she believes strongly in the power of words to change the world.
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