El Salvador elections: Putting women's rights on the agenda

Julia Zulver – Al Jazeera – Wednesday, 05 February 2014 (originally published 31 Jan)

Women with protest signs
El Salvador has one of the highest femicide rates in the world. Image: AFP

Jenny Peirce’s recent piece about El Salvador on the Inter-American Development Bank’s blog, Sin Miedos, questioned where women’s voices fit into discussions surrounding the (in)famous gang truce brokered in 2012. While Pierce’s question remains salient, perhaps at a more fundamental level, there should be a question about where women’s voices fit into ideas of security in El Salvador more generally. As elections rapidly approach, it is important to observe whether promises for women’s rights will indeed enter the agenda of the new president.

In 2010, a Special Law for Women was passed in El Salvador. The Ley Especial Integral para una Vida Libre de Violencia para las Mujeres (The Special and Comprehensive Law for a Life Free from Violence for Women) was approved on November 25, 2010, and entered into force on January 1, 2012. According to the Salvadoran Institute for Women’s Development (ISDEMU) – a formal state institution – the law is an answer to the deepening of diverse forms of violence against women.

The passage of the Special Law marks a historical moment for feminist activists and Salvadoran women’s organisations, who have spent many years campaigning for legal reform for wider protection of women’s rights. This law, in tandem with a new Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law, will theoretically replace the use of the Intra-family Violence Law in matters dealing with violence against women. For many years, this legal structure has upheld traditional family values, often at the expense of women’s physical and psychological protection . . .

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