Honduras: A Dangerous Place to be a Woman


As some of our supporters know, Horizons currently has no active partners or projects in Honduras. This isn't due to lack of effort. Rather, since the coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, the country's political, social, and economic landscape has shifted dramatically, leading several of our former partners to disband or alter their organizational focus. We continue to search for a partner organization that is making a difference in this extraordinarily difficult context.

 

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We visited Honduras during late September, 2017 to connect with new organizations. Over the course of our trip, we heard from several organizations that insecurity, violence and criminal activity is a common concern for almost every Honduran. This is especially true for women and girls in Honduras, who face some of the highest levels of violence and femicide in Latin America.

"El Chile", one of Tegucigalpa's most dangerous neighbourhoods.

"El Chile", one of Tegucigalpa's most dangerous neighbourhoods.

According to the National Health and Population Survey of Honduras for 2011-2012, at least 27% of Honduran women will face physical violence at some point their lives. For women in conjugal relationships, at least 22% will experience domestic violence (psychological, physical, or sexual). However, the real number is likely much higher. These statistics only reflect women who are able to self-identify that violence is being committed against them. As we learned throughout our trip, some women don't recognize psychological or sexual abuse as a form of violence. Due to the strong patriarchal culture within Honduran society, some women have been led to believe that psychological and sexual abuse is a "normal" part of life.

A woman standing on the balcony of her home in Tegucigalpa.

A woman standing on the balcony of her home in Tegucigalpa.

During our trip to Honduras, a case of femicide made national headlines. On September 28th, 2017, an 18-year old nursing student, Marianela Julieth Ríos Ramos, was returning home from a shift at her nursing placement in the barrio of El Manchén. She was found dead on the street; beaten, throat cut, and at least 50 stab wounds all over her body. The perpetrators left a hand written note between her breasts, stating that this was an act of personal vengeance against Marianela. As of today, Honduran police have not resolved the case.

A photograph of authorities investigating and analyzing the scene where Marianela's body was found. Photo credit: La Prensa (Honduras), "Asesinan en Tegucigalpa a estudiante de Enfermería".  

A photograph of authorities investigating and analyzing the scene where Marianela's body was found. Photo credit: La Prensa (Honduras), "Asesinan en Tegucigalpa a estudiante de Enfermería".
 

We spoke to Merly and Christina, two women at the frontline of Honduras’ ongoing struggle against femicide and violence against women. Through their work at Visitacion Padilla, an organization dedicated to advancing women’s rights and reducing violence against women and femicide in Honduras, Merly and Christina have compiled a femicide database highlighting the ongoing violence against women in the country.

Merly Enguigure (left) and Cristina Susana Flores (right), from Visitacion Padilla.

Merly Enguigure (left) and Cristina Susana Flores (right), from Visitacion Padilla.

Using their database, we were able to view over 463 femicide cases during 2016. As of our meeting with them in September, 2017, there have been at least 253 femicides recorded so far this year, including the case of Marianela. "The cases of femicide that we track are crimes against humanity. Sicarios decapitate women, and mutilate their victims breasts and genitals. They do this to send a message", said Merly Enguigure.

Women Building Power, Visitacion Padilla Women's Movement.

Women Building Power, Visitacion Padilla Women's Movement.

Despite the ongoing crusade against women in Honduras, women like Merly and Cristina and organizations like Visitation Padilla remain committed and engaged to end violence against women and femicide. Around Tegucigalpa, we found a number of symbols and tags highlighting the grassroots resilience and dedication to fighting back.

"My body, My Territory". Graffiti advocating for women's rights can be found on the streets of Tegucigalpa. 

"My body, My Territory". Graffiti advocating for women's rights can be found on the streets of Tegucigalpa. 

"I decide what I put in my mouth."

"I decide what I put in my mouth."

"With regards to my body, it's my decision."

"With regards to my body, it's my decision."

Horizons remains committed to supporting Honduras and campaigns against femicide and violence against women. We are thrilled to have met Merly and Cristina from Visitacion Padilla and hope to engage them as a partner in the near future.

Merly (left), Cristina (middle), and Horizons staff member Sergio (right) pose for a picture after a productive meeting in Tegucigalpa. 

Merly (left), Cristina (middle), and Horizons staff member Sergio (right) pose for a picture after a productive meeting in Tegucigalpa. 

 

We invite you to donate to Horizons today to support our ongoing work in Central America & Mexico, and future initiatives to reduce violence against women and femicide in Honduras.