Are Latin American women considered attractive in Europe?

Latin America: Killed because they are women

In the Peruvian capital Lima, over 50,000 people took to the streets last Saturday to protest against the ongoing violence against women and the impunity of the perpetrators. Last year the Peruvian authorities registered 95 feminicides, this year there are already 54 and 118 attempted murders. The number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher, since feminicides are often covered up as suicide or other violent crimes or are not even reported.

"Ni una menos"

Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil: Since last summer there have been repeated mass demonstrations in Latin American countries. People are protesting against the violence under the motto "Ni una menos" (Not one less). The biggest protest so far took place in June 2015 with around 300,000 participants in Argentina.

Brutal cases of violence against women shocked the Argentine public at the time: a man cut his ex-wife's throat in front of her children, a woman was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in broad daylight on the terrace of a café, and a pregnant 14-year-old was killed by hers An ex-partner two years older than him was beaten to death and then buried in the garden with the help of relatives.

Deadly lands

A study by the Swiss NGO Small Arms Survey from 2012 shows that of the 25 countries in which the most feminicides are committed worldwide, 14 are Latin American countries. The sad statistic is led by the Central American El Salvador. Why is Latin America more than half of the "deadliest" countries for women?

In addition to the socially strongly rooted "machismo" - the macho culture in which the man dominates and the woman perceives as his property - organized crime is also characteristic of the region. "The drug trade and the gangs that go with it are a big problem in Latin America," says Maria Teresa Medeiros Lichem, who teaches literature and gender issues in Latin America at the University of Vienna. The drug gangs have brutal rituals, including feminicide. Young men would have to prove themselves in order to be accepted into a gang or rise in the hierarchy.

"There is now also more awareness of this topic," explains Medeiros Lichem. Women now know better about their rights. Social movements and NGOs have particularly contributed to raising awareness over the past 50 years. "In other regions, violence against women is certainly widespread, but perhaps even more hidden than unreported numbers."

Femicide as a criminal offense

Femicide or feminicide is used when men kill women because of their gender. Most women are killed by men who are close to them, such as partners, ex-boyfriends, fathers or lovers. Often they are brutally mistreated beforehand.

States tolerated the crimes in many cases. The feminicides in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez achieved notoriety in the 1990s. It is estimated that 700 women were kidnapped, ill-treated and murdered there. After twenty years, most of these murders are still unsolved.

Several Latin American countries - including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru - have now legally introduced femicide as a separate criminal offense. In Argentina, murder is punished with twelve to 25 years in prison, the offense of murdering women is punishable by life imprisonment.

When higher penalties for murdering women are up for discussion, the critics are quick to get in touch. Medeiros Lichem replies: "A woman's life is of course no more valuable than that of a man. But the great problem of widespread violence against women has been ignored for so long that these deterrent laws are now necessary."

High impunity

A big problem - despite the existing laws - is that impunity is still widespread. In Bolivia, the General Prosecutor's Office published corresponding figures in early July 2016: Only two out of ten femicide trials end with a conviction. There are "amicable" out-of-court settlements. The processes are being delayed. Many victims come from poor families. Your relatives cannot afford the legal costs and so have to give up after a while.

The murder of women is only the tip of the iceberg. Linked to this are domestic violence and general structural violence against women. "It's no wonder that 'machismo' is a Spanish word," said Colombian suffragette Catalina Ruiz-Navarro in an interview with Al Jaazeera. "We Latin Americans are considered hot-blooded." It is seen as normal that the man kills the woman out of jealousy, for example, because he loves her so passionately. The media would also contribute if, for example, they dubbed "love murder out of jealousy" and staged the manslaughter as a great love drama.

No brave machos

"We have to stop glorifying macho courage," says Maria Teresa Medeiros Lichem. From an early age, the young boys are told not to cry. In kindergarten they are given plastic pistols. "It must be shown that it is cowardly to do violence to a woman," says the native Bolivian. Because that is often the worst thing for men in the affected societies: when they are told that they are cowardly. (Milena Österreicher, August 19, 2016)