Crisis in Venezuela: the thousand forms of violence against women

Femicides increased 120% this year compared to 2019. The effects of quarantine and official silence.

More than 200 women were murdered this year in Venezuela, amid a wave of femicides that it does not stop and that it is the maximum expression, but not the only one, within the thousand forms of gender violence that are present in the Caribbean nation.

Once called “the country of women”, Venezuela today victimizes, and in many cases revictimizes, thousands of its citizens under a system that, paradoxically, contains advanced legislation to protect them but lacks political will and is brimming with impunity.

During 2020, femicides soared in Venezuela as confinement was ordered of its nearly 15 million women. In the first 10 months of the year, while the world counted deaths from the pandemic, the oil country lost 217 people to gender violence.

This has been recorded by the Utopix portal, an organization that set off alarms in 2019, when it began to measure these cases in view of the official silenceSince the Venezuelan Executive has not published these indicators for years or almost any other that is related to crime.

So with the country in partial quarantine, femicides have increased by 120% compared to the same period of the previous year, an increase so thunderous that it has been recognized by the Venezuelan Justice, although with a smaller number of prosecuted and convicted persons.

“In this context of general crisis, the population of women is becoming more and more vulnerable due to the crisis itself,” the psychologist Magdymar León, coordinator of Avesa, explains to the EFE agency, an organization that has been defending the rights of women for 37 years. women in the country.

At this point, he warns, a review of public policies is urgently needed, so that they include a gender perspective, and of society in general, to determine “why men are killing their partners” or what makes them think they have “right” to do so

The answers to these questions can be found both in the macho culture, deeply rooted even in the women of the country, and in the impunity that abounds in these cases and for which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) sanctioned the Venezuelan State in 2018.

The historic conviction, the first against a State for gender violence committed by an individual, was obtained by Linda Loaiza, a 39-year-old lawyer who sued her country for denying her timely access to Justice after having been kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured in 2001.

“The State allowed torture and sexual slavery (…) there was acquiescence from the State, that is, it allowed it, it facilitated it,” Loaiza explains to EFE, recalling the discriminatory treatment he received in those years when he did a hunger strike to protest against the acquittal of the accused.

The woman, backed by the international ruling that has not been complied with in her country, continues to thirst for justice, after having “removed the veil from the Venezuelan institutions,” as she describes having faced an entire system that belittled and revictimized her.

“If someone wants to know how the progress of women’s rights has been at all levels (…) they can see it reflected specifically in my case, because I believe that there are all the sides of the coin,” she says.

All of this has happened under a government that incessantly defines itself as a feminist and cheers on women for their contribution to the so-called Bolivarian revolution.

“Give me more pot-bellies (pregnant women),” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on several occasions. With 96% poverty and the highest teen pregnancy rate in South America, the president, who calls himself a feminist, orders more and more pregnancies.

Given this, Avesa has denounced that Venezuelan public policy is not focused on women but on mothers, which sends a message to citizens that they will be “protected” whenever they reproduce.

Thus, the freedom to decide is not promoted in a country that has had a law for the protection of women since 2007 – although the Executive has not approved the regulations to fully enforce it – and that continues to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape, incest or congenital malformations.

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