Violence against women and femicides: Evaluation of legislation to end it in Guatemala

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: Currently, Guatemala is after El Salvador the country where most women are being murdered per capita in the world. In 2008, the Guatemalan Congress approved the Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women (Decree 22-2008). This law defines femicide as the murder of a woman, within the unequal power relations between men and women, because of her condition of being a woman. The aim of this thesis is to evaluate the impact of the law during the five years that it has been adopted, and the factors that have influenced such an impact. By evaluating the law’s outcome, through distant semi-structured interviews with professionals in Guatemala and scholars in the subject, secondary sources and statistics, using Johan Galtung’s theory on violence, the thesis has found that the law has contributed to make violence against women and femicides visible for Guatemalans, as well as for the international community. Moreover, it has made more women denounce abuse. However, the femicide rate has increased during these five years and the culture of impunity that governed the country before and during the internal armed conflict (1960-1996) continues to prevail. Despite the law, women can still be murdered without greater consequences. Factors found that influence the unsatisfactory impact are presented as; a patriarchal culture internalized in both men and women, a lack of political will to change the prevailing structures (by not raising awareness and providing the financial resources required) and a continued distrust for the State.

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