Honduras: one of the least developed nations in Central America has continued to build its history instability, poverty, crime, and military rule. Its citizens have grown accustomed to gang violence, drug wars, and extortion despite ongoing calls for reform and recent elections. The World Food Bank states about 1.5 million of Honduras’ 8.5 million people face food insecurity.
Today, Honduras has the highest murder rate per capita in the entire world, a rate almost double that of the second highest (Venezuela). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that about 90.4 murders are committed out of every 100,000 people, in other words, every 1,000th person loses their life. A main victim of these murders are tourists, journalists, and most among those, women.
According to the United Institute for Democracy, the number of female murders increased 263.4% from 2005 to 2013— a hike unlike any other country. The United Nation has called the “femicide” rate in Honduras the highest in the world. Every sixteen hours, a woman is murdered. The UN also reported that only about 5% of all sexual violence and “feminized” cases were ever investigated in 2014.
Out of shear trepidation, women emulate submission and inferiority at the hands of gangs who use scare tactics to control their daily tasks such as walking, talking or dressing. Essentially, men perpetrate violence and leave women to cower in the streets in honest fright of being attacked.
According to ABC News, Honduras is “one of the most dangerous places on Earth to be a woman”. The story of female homicides in Honduras came to the forefront of newspapers with the news of Miss Honduras’, Maria Jose Alvarado, and her sister’s murder. Despite her sister’s boyfriend being found guilty for their murders, the government claimed they were involved drug trafficking as justification.
Despite all the violence, the government has been approaching the situation with a “look away” kind of approach. In 2014, the Honduras’ government discontinued an emergency phone line for female violence victims and in conjunction began to decrease funding for women’s rights groups.
Despite the increasing stability of the Honduran government, the state of women exhibit quite the opposite. The societal patriarchy lacks human decency, morals, and leaves me to question how women in Honduras can barely walk the streets without looking over their shoulder, not for a pick pocket, but for an attacker ready to take their lives.
Women receive lower incomes and experience greater food insecurity despite their large role in the agricultural labor force. They are denied from productive assets such as land, technology, and financial services.
I concede this issue is one not to be solved overnight, but it is one that needs to be addressed and discussed as every sixteen hours that goes by another woman is lost the ongoing cycle. So what is being done to protect the women of Honduras today?
Well, the United States has begun letting in large numbers of female immigrants from Honduras due to drug and gang related violence. Organizations like Project Hope have been helping women in Honduras with health awareness and finances since 1993. The program has helped more than 63,000 women and 56,000 children through health awareness programs and microcredit. Women through the organization receive access to essential health information as well as personal savings mechanisms.
The viscous cycle of submission stems from the daunting drug crimes that have taken the Honduran economy down the tubes. In order to further stabilize the country and protect women, the Honduran government needs to start funding not just protections for women, but also even more restrictions for gangs. Yes, this may sound clear and obvious and you probably think they’re already doing this. Sadly, no. Despite the new President’s cries of reform and acknowledgment of these issues, many of the statistics quantifying these issues have not wavered. Yes, the implementation of hands off change may take more time, but why not use our hands to inflict the necessary changes required to protect not just Honduran women and children, but the victims of all drug related crimes, poverty, and lack of food security.
The instability of Honduras has left women in serious danger with no where to turn but to submit to a culture where they are flagged as negligible. Helping organizations like Project Hope and lobbying for more funding and reform is all necessary for catalyzation, but first and foremost, we must all begin by simply initiating conversations about not just the problem at hand but how to solve many of the ongoing Honduran issues, while keeping its women safe. Brining people to the United States certainly would provide a safe haven for victims, but it is only temporary fix to a decade old problem. The corruption, crime and poverty is not going to be fixed by bringing people to the United States. It starts with us advocating for the women of Honduras in open forum and conversation because if we don’t, who will?