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El Salvador: Women of El Salvador start the New Year with a special law protecting them

By Danila Garcia

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR — In El Salvador in 1930, the first female president in all of Latin America was elected. Her name was Prudencia Ayala and she led the way in history to proclaim the equality of rights. Twenty years after that declaration, the government, in 1950, granted full equality for both sexes in El Salvador.

Women in El Salvador march in the streets demanding women be allowed to live a life free of violence.

Yet, equality hasn’t brought peace to the women of El Salvador.

Currently multiple voices are demanding equal rights for women. It was on December 17, 1999, that the General Assembly of the United Nations designated November 25 as International Day of No Violence Against Women. It was proclaimed in the memory of the murders of the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were killed on November 25, 1960 on the orders of the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.

Femicide and violence against women continue to rise

Alarming statistics of the National Civil Police reported that 589 women were murdered between January 1 and November 22 this year. Data shows that the public safety of women is still fragile. Forty-nine percent of femicides that occurred from January to October 2011, were of youth 18-25 years.

It is an extremely troubling example of misogyny (misogyny: hatful behavior, implicit or explicit, against everything related to the feminine, perhaps as a rejection, hatred and contempt against women). The murder of women, otherwise known as femicide, is often executed with extreme cruelty, including sexual assault, mutilation and dismemberment of bodies.

In addition, this misogyny is not only directed at violating the physical health of women’s bodies but also is used as a form of symbolic violence in the media, which acts like a psychological tool seeking to trivialize women’s rights, and seeks to control, devalue or minimize the contributions of women.

Marchers in San Salvador demand violence against women stop.

Today, these women are seen merely as a statistical number and must be seen with empathy for who they really are — victims.

Some reasons for violence against women are: the impunity with which these events occur, the lack of education, the lack of culture for complaining or reporting abuses, whether it’s out of fear or shame; and the proper training to ensure prompt and complete justice to the thousands of women affected by violence. The key to combat the mistreatment of women is changing the attitude of citizens — they must denounce violence against women and not remain complicit in it.

Because of the unity and pressure, that was exerted for years by feminist organizations, the current government supports and has approved a new law protecting women. Titled the Special Law for Integral Life Free of Violence against Women it goes into effect in January 2012.

Yet, it’s not a 100 percent certain guarantee to stop violence against women. There’s only one way to do it.

Women are not invisible and unless people do one thing, femicide will continue on its current agenda.

People must SPEAK OUT now!

Learn more about Danila

Danila currently directs the magazine Klave Afternoon on Radio 92.1 FM The Klave of El Salvador. She is studying for her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication at Christian University of the Assemblies of God (UCAD).

In addition, Danila has worked as a producer and writer for radio and television, while at the same time, using her graphic design talents in corporate materials representing UCAD.

She has participated in workshops both on journalism and misogyny and attended the IV Ibero-American meeting for youth journalists in El Salvador.

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