Femicide, the murder of women because they are women, continues to be a reality in both Latin America and Europe. Two years after an action plan was adopted during the last EU-CELAC Summit, including commitments to eliminate all forms of violence against women, a conference has been held in Brussels on “The duty of due diligence in eradicating femicide”, with the aim of evaluating progress made on this issue in recent years.
The event took place in the European Parliament and was organised by the Green Group with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation and a number of civil society organisations, including the European networks CIFCA and Grupo Sur. The conference analysed the extent to which states have acted with due diligence to tackle violence against women and femicide. The seminar also assessed whether progress has been made in meeting the commitments made during EU-CELAC bi-regional dialogue.
“The EU-CELAC Summits should not be a mere photo opportunity for politicians: agreed-upon action plans must be taken seriously. In 2013 we sincerely welcome the creation of a bi-regional dialogue on gender as part of the biannual Action Plan, however so far we have no information on what action has been taken”, said Ernest Urtasun, MEP and host of the event. “This dialogue must be strengthened with the participation of women’s and feminist organisations from both regions”, the MEP added.
Meanwhile, Patricia Jiménez of the Boell Foundation appealed to states, reminding them that “the entire state structure needs to commit to acting with due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish all acts of violence against women”.
The Latin American region includes five of the twelve countries with the highest rate of femicide in the world; while in the EU 28% of women over 15 years old have experienced physical and / or sexual violence at the hands of their partners. “Despite the severity of the problem, public policies fail to address violence against women as a priority”, said Erika González from Grupo Sur. “It is essential to create verifiable data banks in both regions that have official, comprehensive and accessible statistical information”, she added.
That is why “the new 2015-2017 plan is a unique opportunity for the EU and the CELAC to adopt measures to promote public policies and assign budget support, to ensure, among other things, access to effective justice and the eradication of impunity”, said Marta Ibero from CIFCA.
Liz Meléndez, from the CLADEM feminist network, stressed that “femicide is a structural problem that affects millions of women in both continents. Breaking gender stereotypes in the investigation and prosecution of cases and ending impunity are paramount to eradicating this crime”.
The Eighth Conference has tackled for the first time the issue of clandestine abortion as an act that causes femicide. Every year more than 70 thousand women die from clandestine abortions in countries with harsh, restrictive laws, where there is no recognition of reproductive rights for women and where abortion is a crime.
In the case of Peru, for example, abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from sexual abuse is illegal even in teenage pregnancies, despite the fact that “figures show that 34% of the total number of cases of adolescent sexual abuse result in pregnancy, and that in 2013 suicide was the main indirect cause of maternal death in adolescents, accounting for 56% of cases”, Meléndez said.
The Conference was organised with the support of AIETI, Alliance for Solidarity, CIFCA, Cooperacció, Feminicidio.net, Flora Tristán, Grupo Sur, European Women’s Lobby, Intermón Oxfam and Otro Tiempo. All of these organisations have signed a statement which will be delivered to heads of state and government from the two regions when they meet next week in Brussels for the II EU-CELAC Summit.