SEMlac reports

SEMlac reports (330)

By Mercedes Alonso

Santo Domingo, January (SEMlac). - The call to march to put an end to impunity has generated a lot of expectation in the local population.
Originally scheduled for January 22, the event has sought to fight corruption and impunity after a case that involved a Brazilian construction company (Ode Brecht) and State officials on the island.
A press release indicated that the march will soon be held on various locations.

An overview
A campaign entitled Four per cent for education was launched in 2010 to ask the government to enforce a law that had been passed in 1997 setting forth that four per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be allocated to education.
Representatives of over 200 organizations and millions of ordinary people mobilized on the fourth day of every month ever since and up to 2013, all wearing yellow.
By the end of 2012, the government announced that the demand would be met. It had always invested only two percent of the GDP on this critical sector, which was one of the lowest investments in the region. Thirteen per cent of the population over 15 years of age was illiterate, and most schools were understaffed and overcrowded at the time.
The so-called Educational Revolution under President Danilo Medina has trained more teachers and built hundreds of schools and day-care centers.
However, in 2016, a total of 78 women were murdered, and 70 boys, girls and adolescents became orphans as a result.
After two decades of struggle and mass mobilization, the problem of gender and family violence remains.
A total of 77 women were killed by their husbands or sexual partners in 2015 alone, and 967 lost their lives between 2007 and 2016.
Against this background, the Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Women's Affairs decided to partner with social organizations, government institutions and cooperation agencies to raise awareness and seek to prevent and control violence. 
Last January 1st, the local media announced that a man had killed his common-law wife with a stick and had committed suicide. Just a month before, a woman had been shot to death, leaving five children in orphanage, including a pregnant teenager.
Roberto Rodríguez, communication director in the central government, announced a permanent campaign to make women's rights visible.
Another initiative by the ministries of Labor and Women's Affairs and the Dominican Association of Free Zones had been undertaken in November 2012 to prevent and eradicate gender and family violence. 
Among other campaigns are No aguanto más (Enough is enough); Si me quieres, no me dañes (If you love me, do not hit me); and El poder de tu voz (The power of your voice).
Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic continues to rank third on women's murders in the region, after Honduras and El Salvador, according to a report of the National Office of Statistics (ONE).



 By Norma Loto

 Buenos Aires, November (SEMlac Special). – The story of Alika Kinan (40) is
 like an X-ray of white slave traffic linkage with State powers. She is not
 the defendant, but the plaintiff at a judicial process to be undertaken in
 Ushuaia (Argentina) on November 7.

 “Being a prostitute was a source of pride because we were taken there to
 sate gendarmes, military and police officers,” she wrote in a public letter
 last year.

 She was forced into prostitution for 20 years until October 2012, when there
 was a police raid at the bar she was working in. She had never thought of
 herself as a victim. Her fate had been written long before because her
 mother, aunts and grandmothers had all been sexually exploited by her
 father.

 Marcela d’Angelo, a member of the Campaign “No more women victims of
 prostitution networks,” told SEMlac that Kinan is opening a door to demand
 the State to take action against the violation of fundamental rights.

 “I have survived white slave traffic and continue to be a victim of many
 forms of violence: I was raped at 14. I am the daughter and niece of women
 who were prostituted under the patriarchal system. My parents abandoned me
 when I was 16 and I had to take care of my 10-year-old sister ever since,”
 she recalled.

 “I arrived in Ushuaia when I was 18 and had no identity document whatsoever.
 I was considered to become a ´good prostitute´ because I had no criminal
 record. And the local government issued a health booklet for me,” she
 remarked.

 It was in this city where she met her former husband, a prostitution
 consumer. They both settled down in Spain and formed a family. She became a
 violence victim and decided to get back to Ushuaia with her daughters and
 start working for traffickers.

 Her trial involves another six victims, but she is the only plaintiff. The
 defendants are Pedro Montoya and Ivana García (owners of the place), and
 Lucy A. Campos (manager).

 As she has often been threatened to death, such acts have merited unreserved
 condemnation at #AlikaNoEstáSola (Alika is not alone).

 D’Angelo told SEMlac that these threats are due to sensitive interests of
 international sex trafficking networks.

 She added that, in Argentina, there have been attempts at regulating
 prostitution and using it to reduce unemployment among transvestites and
 transsexual people.

 Against this background, the Attorney General’s Office on Human Trafficking
 and Exploitation, which is led by Marcelo Colombo and Alejandra Mángano,
 issued an official communiqué right after the trial began.

 “We will defend not only Alika Kinan, but also over 1,000 victims who are
 being exploited in silence,” it indicated.

 “There is an urgent need for the State to provide victims with protection
 and guarantee fundamental rights,” it concluded.

 By Gabriela Ramírez

 Mexico, October (SEMlac). – There is a critical need to strengthen
 substantive, equal representation in the country, participants in a forum
 held at the National Electoral Institute (INE) indicated.

 Held last October 11-12, the event was organized by INE, the Electoral
 Court, UN Women, the National Women’s Institute, and the Prosecutor’s
 Office.

 Participants agreed to adopt legal reforms for substantive equality and
 horizontal/vertical parity, implement affirmative actions for women and
 young people, and criminalize political violence.

 They stressed that the political rights of women should not be limited to
 vote and should include violence-free settings.

 These new commitments were formally signed by Lorena Cruz, president of the
 Women’s Institute; Lorenzo Córdoba, counselor at INE; María Alanís, judge of
 the Electoral Court; Javier Bolaños, president of the Bureau of the House of
 Representatives; Santiago Nieto, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office;
 and Ana Güezmes, UN Women representative in Mexico.

 Zero tolerance

 Cruz made a call not to tolerate political violence against women in the
 country.

 She underscored the urgent need to increase the number of women at municipal
 governments, workplaces, schools and communities.

 Bolaños indicated that civilian organizations should be actively involved in
 the struggle for parity.

 Alanís found it necessary to turn parity into a reality for local women.

 “Despite the progress made, there is still resistance to see women taking
 public positions,” she commented.

 Güezmes stressed that parity paves the way for equality.

 Parity, a serious issue

 “Parity helps promote women’s participation in political life and
 democracy,” said Carmen Moreno, executive secretary of the Inter-American
 Commission at the Organization of American States.

 “There is a regional consensus about political equality being governed by
 parity standards,” she remarked.

 “Parity has made it possible for women to account for 42 per cent of members
 of the House of Representatives,” she noted.

 Nieto highlighted the need for authorities to see parity as an overriding
 principle.

 Constancio Carrasco, president of the Electoral Court, said that the
 struggle for women’s rights has been hard and long.

 Marcela Eternod, executive secretary of the Women’s Institute, concluded
 that women’s talent should not be wasted.

By Mercedes Alonso


 Santo Domingo, October (SEMlac). – The Dominican Republic ranks on top of
 the list of Latin American countries exhibiting high pregnancy rates and
 consensual unions that involve girls under 15 years of age, a report of the
 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicated.

 It added that 13 girls under 15 give birth every day after having been raped
 or sexually abused.

 UNICEF representative Rosa Elcarte has asked local citizens to report sexual
 exploitation cases to the police.

 She told SEMlac that 60 per cent of poor girls under 18 are either married
 or living in consensual unions. “They have one or more children,” she
 added.

 “It is alarming to see how tolerant the Dominican society is. There are
 girls and boys under sexual exploitation at tourist resorts and other areas
 of the country,” she regretted.

 No excuse

 Last September, UNICEF launched the campaign “No excuse,” in coordination
 with the Office of the Attorney-General.

 “The campaign seeks to raise awareness about these issues,” Elcarte
 emphasized.

 “There are no reliable statistical data on a recurrent phenomenon that is
 deeply rooted in male-chauvinistic traditions,” she stressed.

 Interviews with 146 minors under 18 at tourist resorts showed that many
 children are getting involved in sexual relations with adults in exchange
 for money.

 Over 30 per cent of private school children said they have at some point
 been approached by adults interested in having sex with them.

 DR, a destination for sex?

 “Some people believe that girls can be used to bring money home. This is a
 gross violation of their human rights,” Elcarte told Hoy newspaper.

 “Girls under 18 are not physically and psychologically prepared to make
 sound decisions about sex. These acts are punished under international
 laws,” she recalled.

 No records

 “Over 70 per cent of children to teenage mothers are not registered at birth
 because they have no ID documents available,” she stressed.
 She thinks that progress toward teenage pregnancy prevention has been made,
 but highlights the importance of education.

 “In this context, we failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals in the
 past and we are not likely to meet the Sustainable Development Goals at
 present,” she regretted.

 Out of 13 babies being born every day, 10 die of preventable causes. UNICEF
 is working together with the Ministry of health under the Baby-Friendly
 Hospital Initiative to improve care quality and promote vaginal delivery,
 breastfeeding, and other good practices.

 “We hope to reduce this rate, which has for 20 years been one of the highest
 in Latin America, within the next five years,” she concluded.

By Sylvia R. Torres

Managua, July (SEMlac Special). - The case of a 20-year-old girl, who died a few hours after some cosmetic surgery last July 18, has become viral on social networks. 
"Control over women's bodies is a mainstay of patriarchy," said Eva Blanco, a member of a feminist group in León.
Many people have argued that social pressure makes women pursuit an ideal model of beauty and that all individuals should have the right to make decisions over their bodies. 
Feminist Gracia Oro urged to respect these decisions.

Frank Hooker, a member of La Corriente feminist program, recalled that the patriarchal system promotes beauty stereotypes while branding young women who die as a result of cosmetic surgery as conceited. 
Dr. David Páramo has been accused of malpractice and homicide. He became "famous" in 2011, when a young man had an implant made by him "for better sexual performance."
Urologist Jorge Saborío accused him of medical negligence, because he had performed a procedure he was not qualified to use, under inappropriate conditions.
His cosmetic surgery service costs used to range from 230 to 3.200 dollars.
Another of his victims is Allison Molina (26), whose breast implants led to a pulmonary complication in July 2014.
Armando Siú, director of the Association of Cosmetic Surgeons, told media representatives that Páramo will not be accepted back. 
University professor Ana V. Portocarrero highlighted the need to address patriarchal and racial components in beauty stereotypes.
She urged to defend the right to accurate and comprehensive information about these procedures. 

By Norma Loto

Buenos Aires, July (Especial de SEMlac). - Since 2007, a bill on legal, safe and free abortion has been systematically submitted to Congress. On this occasion, it is being supported by 34 MPs and over 350 social, political and professional organizations.
Government data show that around 500,000 abortions are performed every year in Argentina and that over 80,000 women need to be hospitalized due to related complications.
"We urge legislators to face this social problem and work to formulate and implement public policies on comprehensive health care for and autonomy of women," a communiqué of the National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion indicated.
It also made reference to the Supreme Court ruling of April 2013: "Women should have the right to resort to abortion if they get pregnant as a result of rape, or if they face any life risk."
Libres del Sur MP Victoria Donda hopes that the new bill will be discussed by the Health Commission at the House of Deputies next September.
She recalled that abortion is considered a human right by the United Nations.
President Mauricio Macri recently said that he defends life from conception to death.
"We, in turn, defend the lives and dignity of women who are forced to resort to illegal abortion," she emphasized.
"Their deaths can be prevented by decriminalizing abortion," said Raquel Vivanco, national coordinator of Mujeres de la Matria Latinoamericana (MUMALA).

What has happened in the last nine years?

This question was addressed by Marta Alanis, an outstanding member of Catholics for the Right to Choose.
She told SEMlac that there has been no political will to move toward decriminalizing abortion.
Soledad Deza, the defense lawyer of Belén, a young woman in prison after miscarriage, told SEMlac that the ruling political class is very much aligned with the Catholic Church. 
"The bill provides a new opportunity to meet a historic demand on reproductive justice, freedom and equality for all women," she concluded.

By Alba Trejo

 Guatemala, June (SEMlac). - Adriana Portillo is one of the Guatemalan women
 most seriously affected by the war. Her two daughters aged 10 and nine went
 missing in 1981, when the army raided the house where the two girls were
 being looked after by their grandfather. She has had no news of them ever
 since.

 Portillo told SEMlac that she hopes they were adopted or are working as
 servants somewhere.

 According to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, over 50,000 people
 went missing during the armed conflict in Guatemala, including children who
 were enslaved, used as servants, adopted, or killed.

 Why did you take the case of your daughters out of the country?

 Six family members had been going missing. My brother had been killed. I was
 terrified.

 What happened on that day?

 My daughters had gone out with their father and his brother. We would all
 meet again at a birthday party. They were probably killed there, I don’t
 know.

 What were police and army forces looking for?

 The house was the meeting place for members of the Revolutionary
 Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA). My father was in charge of caring
 for the wounded and for those trying to escape repression.

 Did your girls and the rest of the family go missing on that very day?

 Some eye witnesses say that a pickup broke into and came out of the house
 garage completely covered. Some others say that two women and two girls were
 taken out of the house by force and were crying for help.

 What do you think about it?

 My daughters were fully aware of the situation in the country and of what
 the army was doing. So, they may have been killed, but my little sister may
 have given in adoption. My father was beaten to death.

 What do you expect to find every time you come back to Guatemala?

 I have been looking for my daughters for 31 years. I don’t know if they were
 killed or adopted.

 How do you remember them?

 It is very difficult for me to speak about them. Rosaura was shy, but was
 always smiling, and loved dancing. Glenda was more extrovert and very
 inquisitive. One day, she asked me: why are there poor and rich people? Why
 do some children have so many toys and we don’t have any?

 Do you still hope they are alive?

 I spent three years looking for them in the streets. I just want to know
 whether they were killed or adopted.

 What have you done all these years?

 What haven’t I done? I have been working as a human-rights activist since
 1984. I have met with the United Nations Committee against Torture. I have
 asked the U.S. government to provide me with information, but I was told it
 was state secret.

 I have found National Police declassified information; I have met with local
 authorities; and I have been waiting for the prosecution services to advise
 me of their actions, but so far nothing has come up.

 How have you dealt with the absence of your daughters?

 I have been on psychiatric treatment ever since. If I don’t take my pills, I
 cannot sleep. I have even tried to commit suicide.

 On the other hand, I think I am a privileged person because many families in
 a similar situation have not been able to speak out at the forums I have. I
 feel I am the voice of those who have not been able to do so.

 By Norma Loto

Buenos Aires, June (SEMlac). – The streets of Argentina were taken by
 #NiUnaMenos last June 3. The massively attended march included relatives and
 friends of murdered women and girls.

 Nine years have elapsed since the daughter of Gumersinda Giménez was killed
 by a gendarme.

 Judith (16) was at the time studying at La Banderita School in Buenos Aires.
 “I am now being trained as a social worker. That was what she was planning
 to become,” Giménez told SEMlac.

 “My son Eduardo, who has given me two beautiful grandchildren, always tells
 me that Judith is looking after us,” she added.

 The situation in the country seems to get steadily worse. The Adriana M.
 Zambrano Observatory recently announced that there have been 275 women
 murders, including 171 in their houses, in the last 12 months.

 Three 12-year-old girls have just been killed.

 The father of Carolina Aló, a young girl who was stabbed to death in 1996,
 participated in the demonstration to demand change.

 Also on hand were family and friends of Chiara Paez, a 14-year-old girl who
 was beaten to death by her boyfriend, and of Bárbara C. Toledo, who was 20,
 had a daughter of two, and was pregnant again when her partner smothered her
 in 2015.

 There were no speakers at the march this time, but the organizers developed
 a document that was widely circulated, highlighting the need to mainstream
 the gender approach into public policies, further train relevant officials,
 allocate adequate budgets, establish victim shelters, and adopt effective
 prevention and control measures.

 Emphasis was also made on fighting male-chauvinistic violence against
 heterosexual women, lesbians, gays, transvestites, and transgender people.

 Women murders

 The murders reported by the Observatory include a baby girl, 11 girls aged
 two to 12, 29 adolescents aged 13 to 18, and nine older women.

 A total of 66 were shot to death; 57 were stabbed; 40 were beaten to death;
 21 were strangled; and 20 were burned.

 Thirty-nine of these victims had submitted their cases to court.
 The provinces with the highest number of women murders include Buenos Aires
 (102), Santa Fe (23), Salta (21), Córdoba (20), City of Buenos Aires (13),
 Santiago del Estero (11), and Mendoza (10).

 Andrea Aramayo in #NiUnaMenos

 Solidarity was also expressed with migrant women in Argentina, including
 Claudia A. Aramayo, the daughter of Helen Álvarez, our colleague in
 Bolivia.

 Claudia was killed on August 19, 2015. Lilia Camacho, a Bolivian reporter in
 Argentina and a friend of Álvarez, decided to include Claudia’s name on
 #NiUnaMenos and take her case to court.

 She told me at the march that male-chauvinism knows no frontiers and that
 justice should be done not only in Bolivia, but also in the entire region.

 Helen’s feminist activism is now being developed at Mujeres Creando
(Creative Women) NGO.

By Sara Lovera

Mexico, April (SEMlac). – Women face risks at home and school, and
 administrative/criminal proceedings are usually cumbersome for victims.

 Two administrative proceedings were undertaken by students and professors at
 the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM) in 2013. The cases were
 taken by law experts at the same university, and the final decision was to
 fire the abusers.

 One of them, Enrique González, filed suit at the Conciliation and
 Arbitration Board and is likely to be back to work, despite the opposition
 of most faculty members.

 Jurist Medina regretted that some human-rights specialists do not seem to
 recognize that sexual harassment is extremely serious.

 The university rector has implemented no damage reparation action and has
 instead allowed the professor in question in.

 Harassers everywhere

 “Martha” reported her case to the Office of the Government Attorney in
 October 2014, shortly after she was raped by a colleague at the UNAM
 Institute of Nuclear Sciences.

 The rapist was Víctor H. Flores, a post-graduate student. After 15 months of
 litigation, he had a committal order issued against him.

 Last January 10, Martha learnt that the Honor and Justice Commission had
 decided not to impose any sanction on Flores, because the event had occurred
 outside the institute’s premises.

 Another case

 Last April 10, a press release by the Office on Human Rights, Crime
 Prevention and Community Services indicated that a former UNAM employee had
 been sentenced to nine years in prison for having sexually abused an
 administrative assistant at the city council.

 Explosive data

 Around 600,000 sexual crimes are committed every year in Mexico, according
 to a report of the Executive Commission on Victims Care (CEAV).

 Over 2.9 million crimes of such a nature were committed in the 2010-2015
 period alone, it also revealed.

 Out of 20,000 reports, 5,000 have involved students.

 Only at UNAM, 49.3 percent of students (34,000) said they have endured some
 form of harassment at the university, according to a survey conducted by the
 Gender Equity Program (PUEG).

 Protocols

 A research work by Arturo Ilizaliturri showed that UNAM and the University
 of Guanajuato have draft protocols under review and approval, while UACM has
 a procedure already in place.

 No major private university has an appropriate protocol under
 implementation, while some others have rules and regulations that stipulate
 that sexual harassment is considered an offense against discipline.

 In 2014, the Institute of Technology in Monterrey developed a procedure to
 deal with sexual harassment situations, but local authorities told
 Ilizaliturri that it is no longer being implemented.

 The rules at the Pan American and Iberian American universities impose
 sanctions on sexual harassers, but those at Anáhuac do not even mention the
 issue.

 At the other end of the spectrum, the Autonomous University of Guadalajara,
 which is privately owned and Christian, expressly bans women from wearing
 transparent blouses and short skirts.

 According to the General Law on Women’s Access to Violence-Free Settings,
 educational centers should formulate and implement programs for the early
 detection of acts of violence against women. However, this law has for 11
 years been dead letter at higher education facilities.

Mexico, April (SEMlac Special). – Universities and other higher education
 facilities have become really dangerous places for women (both professors
 and students). For example, 49.3 percent of women students at the National
 Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) have endured gender violence.

 The Executive Commission on Victims Care (CEAV) indicated that, out of
 600,000 sexual- crime cases, only 20,000 are actually taken to court.

 Despite decades-old gender studies, abusers still go unpunished, no
 victim-care protocols are under implementation, and no effective solutions
 are devised.

 A journalistic research by SEMlac has shown that indifference is now being
 compounded by the efforts of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to
 take abusers back to work, including professor Enrique González.

 After a long process, a rapist at UNAM has, for the first time ever, been
 sentenced to nine years in prison.

 Private universities make no room for gender analysis. They have no
 appropriate victim care protocols despite a constitutional mandate, a

 federal policy and a law on women’s access to violence-free settings.

 A few weeks ago, González organized a meeting to continue harassing María C.
 Rodríguez and Clementina Correa, who had filed suits against their
 colleague, a “human-rights specialist.”

 According to the UNAM Gender Study Program, which includes surveys and
 analyses, 49.3 percent of women students (34,642) have endured some form of
 violence.

 On the other hand, Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) professor Mary
 Goldsmith, who has pioneered gender studies in the country, indicated that
 sexual violence is commonplace at campuses.

 Jenny Cooper, a former professor at the School of Economics, believes that
 there are no procedures in place to prevent, deal with and punish sexual
 violence against women (professors and students).

 Five years ago, the National Institute of Women (INMUJERES) had formulated
 formal recommendations to develop protocols from a gender and human-rights
 perspective.


 A research work by Arturo Ilizaliturri, a member of the Latin American
 Network of Young Journalists, revealed that, out of 32 local autonomous
 universities, only four have protocols in place to fight sexual abuse.

 International legal consultant Andrea Medina told SEMlac that these
 instruments should be both clear and specific to avoid legal gaps.

 University rector Hugo Aboites has systematically refused to meet with
 victims.
 González’ case is now at the Conciliation and Arbitration Board, which has
 since 2012 banned harassment by employers and colleagues and has decided to
 dismiss those found guilty.

 Some hope

 “In 2011, UAM-Xochimilco undertook an institutional program that has
 included a plan to prevent violence against women,” said its manager
 Guadalupe Huacuz.

“After several decades of sustained efforts, a network of higher education

institutions has been established to discuss gender violence intervention
and control methods,” stressed jurist Andrea Medina.

The list of universities with protocols under implementation includes the
Autonomous University of Sinaloa and the universities of San Nicolás de

 Hidalgo, Veracruz, and Quintana Roo. The former covers only cases at its
facilities and the latter, only faculty members.

 Out of eight universities, merely one addresses sexual crimes. The others
 just deal with “immoral acts, lacks of respect, hostility situations,
drunkenness, and forgery.”

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