The violence gripping El Salvador affects women in a different way than men. Within the current security crisis, gang and security force violence has exacerbated a broader, long-standing acceptance of violence against women. More than half of all Salvadoran women say they have suffered some form of violence in their lives. Over a quarter of these women were victims of sexual or physical violence.

While men are far more likely to be murdered, women are significantly more likely to experience intrafamilial, sexual, or economic violence. To make matters worse, women receive little to no guarantees of protection from the state. Due to ineffective governmental institutions, corruption, and social acceptance, impunity reigns in nearly all cases of violence against women.

At work, many women face discrimination and abuse ranging from wage and pension theft by business owners to extortion by gangs. More than half of all working Salvadoran women are employed in the informal sector, placing them at higher risk of exploitation and extortion because the state does not regulate these jobs.

Women often face the highest levels of violence in their own homes. In the first nine months of 2015, the Attorney General’s Special Attention Unit for Women attended to 1,283 cases of intrafamilial violence against women. While this represents an average of almost five reports each day, the true number is almost certainly higher as many cases of domestic violence go unreported.

The prevalence of sexual violence against women in El Salvador is also staggering. Between January and August 2015, the National Civilian Police (PNC) registered an average of nearly five cases per day of sexual violence against women, including rape and sexual assault. And victims are often the most vulnerable—more than half of these assaults were carried out against girls, adolescents, and the disabled, as seen in the graph below.

El Salvador Sexual Violence January-August 2015

See the rest of this post on the Latin America Working Group‘s Just Americas blog. This article is the fifth in the Latin America Working Group and Security Assistance Monitor series ” El Salvador’s Violence: No Easy Way Out.”

 

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