Guatemala among the highest in femicide rates

photo from

Murders motivated by gender are a serious issue around the world. These murders violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which promotes the right to live and move about (among other things), free from discrimination.

Every day women lose their lives simply because they are a woman. Sadly, few countries have taken measures to eradicate this injustice.

However, Guatemala, who has one of the highest number of femicide victims in the world, has decided to do something about it.

According to, the newly-elected President Otto Pérez Molina formed a task force to combat femicide, which resulted in 705 deaths in 2011.

According to the article, Mayra Sandoval, a representative of the non-governmental Observatory against Femicide, told Inter Press Service, “femicide is being addressed as a matter of state policy, and a message is being sent out to aggressors that their actions will not be tolerated and that they will be punished.”

Sandoval continued by saying “she valued the government’s reaction to these crimes,” but “preventive efforts are also needed, otherwise, we’ll just be treating the symptoms without ever getting to the root of the problem.”

I could not agree more.  I applaud the Guatemalan government for recognizing that femicide is a serious matter that deserves specific attention. But I am hesitant in saying that this will change anything. The government needs to address the root of the problem in order to save lives. They also need to take serious measures to prosecute those who have committed the crime, in order to deter those who plan on it.

In order to address the root of the problem, the government needs to talk about, and change, the belief that women are disposable, lesser beings who can be raped, beaten, stabbed etc at a moments notice.

This belief, that women are not as valued as men, is a prominent belief around the world. And it has led to thousands, if not millions, of femicides around the world. However, too often, the cause of this type of murder is called something else, like self defense or an accident.

In order for governments- and society in general- to combat violence against women in an effective way, they need to be willing to address the root cause of these deaths. And they need to create measures to prevent it (which starts by showing people the value of women). The prosecution of those who commit femicide to the highest degree of the law is also an important action because it will prove that this will no longer be tolerated.

Violence against women is a serious problem plaguing our nations- and it is about time the world realizes and understands that women are JUST as valuable as men.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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