More than 4,000 femicides were recorded across Latin America and the Caribbean in 2020, a new UN report has revealed, underlining the region’s ongoing problem with lethal gender violence.
The study, conducted by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s (ECLAC) Gender Equality Observatory, indicated that femicides were down 10.6 percent on the previous year. Experts put this down to an increase in the issue’s visibility, improvement in state responses and continued pressure from women’s movements.
A total of 4,091 femicides were recorded in 26 countries in the region (17 in Latin America; nine in the Caribbean) in 2020, down from 4,576 cases the previous year, said the observatory, which consolidates and updates femicide figures provided by governments on an annual basis.
Nevertheless, the report’s authors warned that gender violence remained a “shadow pandemic” affecting the lives of females across the region.
"Feminicide or femicide as an extreme and lethal form of gender violence continues to affect thousands of women and girls every year in Latin America and the Caribbean," said ECLAC, a technical agency of the United Nations.
It warned that the numbers were “an approximation,” given the lack of “common methodology for generating standardised statistics “ on the crime.
“In absolute terms, in 18 of the 26 countries that report to ECLAC, the highest number of cases of femicide in 2020 corresponded to the age range of between 30 and 44 years (344 women). Adolescents and young adult women from between 15 and 29 years of age were the group with the second-highest incidence of femicide, with 335 victims in 2020,” said the agency.
Breaking down the numbers by nation, the highest femicide rate was recorded in Honduras (4.7 per 100,000 women), the Dominican Republic (2.4 per 100,000 women) and El Salvador (2.1 per 100,000 women).
Still, these three countries registered a decrease compared to 2019, as did Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.
Honduras went from 6.1 femicides per 100,000 women in 2019 to 4.7 in 2020, while in the Dominican Republic the rate fell from 2.7 to 2.4 and in El Salvador from 3.3 to 2.1.
Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua maintained the same rate, while Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama recorded an increase compared to the previous year.
Argentina also retained the same rate of 1.1 per 100,000 women, with 252 officially recorded in 2019 and 251 last year.
"We will not tire of making visible the violence that affects women and girls in our region on a daily basis and that has an impact on society as a whole, as it constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of equality and sustainable development and peace," said ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena, speaking on the eve of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which was celebrated on Thursday.