In the face of increasing cases of femicide, Latin American countries
responded by ratifying the first and only regional instrument aimed at
eradicating violence against women, the Inter-American Convention to
Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence Against Women, in 1994. Since
then, governments across the region have demonstrated their commitment
by pushing through reforms to national criminal justice systems in an
attempt to effectively address this phenomenon. This Brief begins with
an overview of the main causes and manifestations of femicide in Latin
America, followed by a descriptive analysis of two particular kinds of
reform pushed through in recent years. First, the criminalisation of
femicide in national penal codes in countries such as Chile, Mexico and
Peru, and second, the adoption of special laws in Costa Rica, Guatemala
and Mexico. Based on this case study analysis, some initial observations
of impacts are presented before a discussion of the contextual factors
that have helped drive these changes forward. Finally, some of the
strengths and weaknesses of the Latin American models are identified,
which provide interesting lessons for readers other regions of the
The criminalisation of femicide in national penal codes and new laws
represents an important first step to effectively prosecuting extreme
violence against women in Latin America.
Special laws can provide an effective framework for tackling femicide by
mandating governments to carry out a range of measures aimed at
achieving long-term changes to norms and practices that have helped
perpetuate and normalise violence against women.
Specialist tribunals staffed by judges and other personnel trained in
human rights and gender issues provide a successful model for improving
access to justice in cases of femicide.
Toledo Escobar, C. ELLA Policy Brief: Building Legal Frameworks to Address Femicide In Latin America. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 8 pp.