Campaign launched to fight violence against women in Honduras
By Dialogo October 30, 2013
Early on the evening of Sept. 9, 2013, Patricia Núñez Mendoza was driving her car through a heavily-populated Tegucigalpa neighborhood. She had just picked up her parents.
Suddenly, a large SUV blocked her path. Three armed men stepped out and surrounded her car. One of the gunmen stood near her driver’s side door and fired a single shot, which penetrated her torso and ripped through her heart.
“They are attacking us!” Núñez cried out. One of the gunmen, who was standing near the driver’s side door, fired a single shot Núñez’s mother screamed, “Help my daughter, help my daughter!”
But it was too late. The gunshot killed Núñez instantly.
Núñez’s distraught parents said they did not know why anyone would want to kill their daughter.
Violence against women
The killing of Núñez was not an isolated case. The rate of killings of women – “femicide” has surged dramatically in Honduras in recent years. On average, one woman is killed every 18 hours.
Between January and June 2013, there were 323 women killed in Honduras, according to the Violence Observatory, which is run by the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). That is an increase from the rate of killing in 2012, when 278 women were killed between January and June. In the entire year of 2005, 175 women were killed in Honduras.
Women have been killed in different ways. Some, like Núñez Mendoza, were killed as they were driving. Other victims have been left on roadsides with their hands tied.
Most of the victims were between the ages of 15 and 44. The victims included street vendors, lawyers, married women, and single mothers.
In 2013, “the violent deaths of women have gone up,” said Grissel Amaya, who heads the Fiscalía Especial de la Mujer. “Almost two women are dying violently every day in the country.”
In early September, just five days before the gunman killed Núñez, the United Nations and several Honduran community groups launched a campaign to reduce violence against women.
The slogan of the campaign is “Brave men are not violent.” The campaign is part of a broader effort to fight violence against women in Latin America. Countries throughout the Americas are preparing to participate in “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,” which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 25, 2013.
Some women have been killed because they were involved with organized crime or engaged in other dangerous and illegal activities which would put their lives at risk, said Maria Luisa Borjas, a security analyst.
“I don’t doubt some women participate in illicit activities,” Borjas said. “We have seen women participating in assaults, a video recorded a woman cold-bloodedly killing a security guard in a bank robbery recently, but they are the minority most certainly. The motives behind the murders of many women are unknown, Borjas said.
Being involved with a man who works for organized crime can be dangerous, Borjas said.
Women are victimized in different ways, Borjas said. The husbands or boyfriends of some women force them into dangerous activities, she explained. “
It is not uncommon for boyfriends, husbands or sentimental partners, who are involved in gangs, for example, to force their women to bring them drugs inside the penal centers where they are jailed. That’s when we see criminal involvement,” Borjas said. “
When these men dispute with each other, whether they are in jail or not, they settle their accounts and avenge themselves by killing each other’s women too,” Borjas said. “It is easier to kill them or their children as pay back.”
In other instances, drug traffickers force young girls and teenagers to sell small amounts of drugs busy regions of cities, Borjas said. Drug traffickers threaten the girls and teenagers with violence if they do not sell drugs.
In recent months, organized crime operatives in Tegucigalpa abducted and killed a woman candy vendor because she refused to sell illegal drugs for them.
Organized crime initiations
Sometimes, organized crime members kill strangers, women and men, as an initiation rite, Borjas said.
“It has been known that criminals choose people who owe nothing to no one as targets,” Borjas explained. “They initiate killers with innocent people, that’s another reason why nothing is ever known behind the deaths of so many people that have no connection with drug trafficking or organized crime,” says the analyst. “It is an aptitude test of sorts.”
The parents of Patricia Núñez have no answers regarding her death, and wonder if she was killed as part of organized crime initiation. She had no enemies, they said. Núñez had a good relationship with her boyfriend, and planned on marrying him. She was pursuing a Master’s degree and was not involved in any illegal activities, her parents said.
Hi, my comment is as follows: when a large amount of drugs is seized, they claim to burn it. But not all of it is burned, rather about half is left to be sold. Maybe not you, but those who keep it and then distribute it to the other places underhandedly. That is my opinion.