El derecho a defender derechos La situación de las defensoras de DH en Mesoamérica

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En sociedades marcadas por la discriminación y la desigualdad de género, ser defensora de DH significa desafiar las normas y estereotipos culturales que limitan y cuestionan la participación política y social de las mujeres, lo que implica desarrollar esta labor en condiciones desiguales respecto a los hombres así como ser objeto de agresiones. Por lo tanto, asegurar un entorno seguro para que las mujeres puedan ejercer el derecho a defender derechos requiere de un análisis y de medidas concretas con enfoque de género que aborden y reconozcan las condiciones y riesgos que enfrentan.

Es por ello que la Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)[1] comenzó a documentar las agresiones. A través de su Registro se han identificado, de enero del 2012 a diciembre del 2014, un total de 1,688 agresiones a mujeres defensoras en El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras y México: 414 en el año 2012, 512 en 2013 y 762 en 2014; lo que significa un incremento de casi el doble en el número de agresiones registradas  durante el periodo.

Los principales tipos de agresión son:

  • Intimidación y hostigamiento psicológico (21%).
  • Amenazas, advertencias y ultimátum (16%).
  • Calumnias, señalamientos y campañas de desprestigio (9%).
  • Uso excesivo de la fuerza (6%).
  • Detención ilegal y arresto arbitrario (4%).
  • Criminalización y judicialización, (4%).

En total, estos seis tipos de violencia representan 60% de las agresiones sufridas por las defensoras.

Asimismo, registramos 33 asesinatos de defensoras de DH y 39 intentos de asesinato.

En 37% de las agresiones se identificaron componentes de género:

  • Amenazas, advertencias y ultimátums que usan insultos machistas, amenazas de violencia sexual o amenazas a sus familias.
  • Calumnias, señalamientos y/o campañas de desprestigio que utilizan estereotipos de género.
  • Agresiones a organizaciones y defensoras que trabajan por los derechos de las mujeres.

Además, la IM-Defensoras ha documentado que la mayoría de las defensoras no tienen prestaciones laborales, ni cuentan con servicios médicos. Muchas realizan su trabajo sin ninguna retribución económica y tienen que asumir dobles y triples jornadas de trabajo: remunerado, doméstico y de activismo.

Las defensoras que enfrentan más agresiones son las defensoras de la tierra y el territorio (38%), seguidas de las que trabajan por una vida libre de violencia contra las mujeres. Las defensoras que están en mayor riesgo son aquellas que viven en áreas locales[2] y rurales (53.91% y 46.03% respectivamente).

Los actores estatales representan el principal agente responsable de las agresiones (66%). Les siguen las empresas/negocios (22%). Además, cabe destacar que en 5% de los casos las defensoras reciben agresiones de su entorno cercano, tales como familiares e integrantes de su propia organización.

Frente a esta situación, es mucho lo que los Estados y la propia sociedad pueden hacer para prevenir y erradicar estas agresiones. Por ejemplo: reconocer de manera pública el rol fundamental así como la contribución de las defensoras de DH para el avance de la democracia, la igualdad y la paz; erradicar la criminalización y la difamación de que son objeto por parte de los Estados y actores no estatales, implementar mecanismos de protección con enfoque de género o favorecer las redes de protección de defensoras de derechos humanos.

[1] Para mayor información sobre la historia, trabajo, estrategias y productos de la IM-Defensoras: http://www.im-defensoras.org.mx.

[2] Por local nos referimos al área inmediata donde reside la defensora, ya sea local rural o local urbana.

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The Right to Defend Rights
The Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mesoamerica

In societies marked by gender discrimination and inequality, being a woman human rights defender means going against cultural norms and stereotypes that limit and question the political and social participation of women. This, in turn, implies that defenders carry out their work in unequal conditions compared to those of men and become targets of of attacks. Consequently, ensuring a safe environment in which women can exercise their right to defend rights requires an analysis and a concrete, gender-sensitive approach that recognizes and deals with the ensuing conditions and risks.

With this in mind, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders  (IM-Defensoras)[1] documents attacks faced by women defenders in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, through the Mesoamerican Registry of Attacks against Women Human Rights Defenders.[2]

In this Registry, from January 2012 to December 2014, a total of 1,688 attacks were identified against women defenders in  El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico: 414 in 2012, 512 in 2013 and 762 in 2014, which indicates that the number of registered attacks almost doubled during the three-year period.

The six main types of attacks are:

  • Psychological intimidation and harassment (21%).
  • Threats, warnings and ultimatums (16%).
  • Slander, accusations and smear campaigns (9%).
  • Excessive use of force (6%).
  • Illegal detention and arbitrary arrest (4%).
  • Criminalization and prosecution (4%).

Taken as a whole, these six types of violence represent 60% of all attacks suffered by women defenders.

We also registered 32 murders of women human rights defenders and 39 attempted murders.

In 37% of the attacks, gender components could be identified, the most common being:

  • Threats, warning and ultimatums that included macho insults, threats of sexual violence or threats against families.
  • Slander, accusations and/or smear campaigns utilizing gender stereotypes.
  • Attacks against organizations and individual defenders working for women’s rights.

Furthermore, IM-Defensoras has documented the fact that the majority of all women defenders do not have employment benefits or medical services that allow them to treat job-related health problems on time.  Many work without pay and have double or tripe workdays: a paid job, household work and activist activities.

Women defenders facing the most attacks are those who defend land and territory (38%), followed by those who work for a life free of violence against women. The women defenders at greatest risk are those who live in local[3] and rural areas (53.91% and 46.03% respectively).

State actors are the main agents responsible for the attacks (66%). These are followed by agents of companies/businesses (22%). Moreover, it is important to note that in 5% of the cases, women defenders are subject to attacks in their immediate surroundings, which may come from family members or members of their own organizations.

To tackle this situation, there is much that the State and the society itself can do to prevent and put an end to such attacks. They can, for example, publicly recognize the crucial role and contributions made by women human rights defenders in advancing democracy, equality and peace; stop the criminalization and vilification they are subjected to by both State and non-State actors; implement gender-based protective mechanisms; and support protective networks for women human rights defenders.

http://www.im-defensoras.org

[1]For more information on IM-Defensoras’ history, work, strategies and products, see : http://www.im-defensoras.org.mx.

[2]    In  Nicaragua, which was incorporated into the registry system in 2016, research had previously been done on attacks against women defenders and activists. In 2013, those surveyed included 108 women defenders and 113 community defenders participating in focus groups.  Findings showed that the main types of attacks were smear campaigns, verbal attacks and telephone messages; in 18% of the cases, threats and injuries included family members, and in 21%, involved personal or group property.

[3] By “local”, we mean the immediate area in which the defender resides, whether rural or urban.

 

 

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About Dialogocim

With a view to fostering open dialogue on some of the key aspects of our work, the CIM created this blog “Diálogo CIM”, which seeks to encourage the exchange of ideas and perspectives on issues of concern to the women of the hemisphere. We invite you to read, comment and contribute your own articles on this blog

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