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The Risk of Being a Woman and Human Rights Defender in Honduras

by Keith Roberts In a recent delegation to Honduras, we met a young (27-year-old) feminist activist in Honduras—trained as a sociologist.  Every morning, after she gets dressed, she takes a cell phone photo of herself and sends it to her father so he knows what she is wearing.  The assumption is that by the end of the day she will not be alive and her features will likely be so distorted that she will be unrecognizable.  To claim her body, her father must know what she was wearing that day—both clothing and jewelry.  In the work she does she often speaks up about the police hiding information about crime and violence committed by the Honduran and U.S. military against women.  The violence affects everyone, but Honduran women are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and domestic abuse. 

Militarization provides men with small weapons, and these firearms are not infrequently used to keep a woman from resisting a rape.  Women who do report rapes by the military do not get justice; there is a 97% impunity rate. Only three percent of violent crimes against women lead to any sort of prosecution. If one does report a crime, it often ends with a homicide—against the woman who reported it or her family members.

Militarization of Honduras—funded largely by the United States—contributes to violence against women. When a country is militarized, our young sociologist told us, the rape rates escalate dramatically. Is this really what we want our tax dollars supporting—militarization so U.S. corporations can thrive?


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