Women in Honduras endure everything: violent deaths of women, rape or rape, injuries, attempted murder, disappearances, commercial sexual exploitation, incest and kidnappings.
The data provided by the Observatorio de Violencias contra las Mujeres 2021 (Observatory of Violence against Women 2021) put on the table a tangible reality that the first woman president in the country’s history, Xiomara Castro, representative of the opposition alliance and the Liberation and Refoundation (Libre) party, will have to face from 27 January.
The situation, aggravated by the confinement measures taken as a consequence of Covid-19, impacts more on the poor and vulnerable sectors, according to Amanda Cruz, a business administrator and social economy specialist, “those who daily look for ways to survive”. In a country where, as of 30 November, 314 violent deaths had been recorded. “The patriarchal culture generates frustration, despair at not finding possible solutions and incites migration to flee from this wild, unordered and anarchic environment where male power predominates. Then, the justice system does not respond to the expectations of citizens”.
This is what Amanda Cruz said in an exclusive interview.
According to a study released on 16 December in Tegucigalpa by the Quality of Life Association, 80 per cent of the victims of human trafficking in the country are women and girls, in forms of sexual and commercial exploitation and servitude.
“From the Supreme Court to the last justice operator in the different municipalities, the malfunctioning of the system is evident.
They don’t attend to the demands, the majority of feminicides are not investigated and the reforms to the penal code went backwards in terms of penalties against criminals,” says Cruz.
During the last 12 years, the inequity, inequality, discrimination, deterioration, and poor living conditions promoted by the neoliberal model have become a perceptible reality. However, Cruz acknowledges, the National Autonomous University of Honduras reported a higher number of female graduates.
Access to jobs and opportunities is still insufficient and, with regard to the make-up of the executive branch, currently only four women hold positions in the civil service out of 15.
The presidential term of Juan Orlando Hernández (2018-2022) brought together only Antonia Rivera and Olga Alvarado as Vice-Ministers; Dolores Agüero, Foreign Affairs official and Andrea Matamoros, as Director of Communications and Government Strategy.
“Our role is totally invisible at the highest level”, she says.
And she adds: “There is no significant female presence in the board of directors of the National Congress because, although the parliamentarian Gladis López is the vice-president of this organ of power, her work has more to do with collateral activities than with legislative work”, she explains.
The Supreme Court of Justice has a composition of five women and 10 men, but, in addition to low participation in terms of numbers, Honduran women involved in political careers continuously experience macho behaviour by their colleagues, discrimination and unequal treatment.
Yamileth González, representative of the group of Socialist Women of Honduras, told Prensa Latina that although they make up 51.5% of the population, they are the most affected sector in terms of precarious education, health, economic and political rights, high levels of intimidation and insecurity.
In this sense, the situation becomes more difficult in the face of natural phenomena, pandemics, corruption, and impunity, which are tangible scenarios in the country, and if women are not really present in decision-making spaces.
Although the Electoral and Political Organisations Law formally requires parity in the composition of lists of candidates for elected office, the participation of female candidates in the political sphere is still very low.
It is a fact that they will once again be a minority in the National Congress (2022-2026).
Xiomara Castro is the first woman elected in Honduras to the country’s highest office and the fourth to assume this responsibility in Central America after Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997) in Nicaragua, Mireya Moscoso (1999-2004) in Panama and Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) in Costa Rica. (PL)