Women in Latin America protest the increasing violence towards women

In Latin America, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the deep patriarchal schemes that seriously affect women in the region. Gender violence and femicides increased with confinement, which also left 23 million women in poverty, which led 6% of them to leave their jobs, and increased unpaid care workloads to 40%, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). During her long presentation, Bárcena insisted on combating gender violence and the increase in femicides that fueled the health crisis, and that she called the "shadow pandemic" because it occurs in homes and is affecting women and girls. In Argentina, the femicide of young Úrsula Bahillo, who had denounced her ex-partner several times and was murdered on February 8 with 15 stab wounds, once again exposed the failures in the policies to prevent violence against women that, despite the progress in recent years in the country, is still insufficient to stop gender-based killings. In Argentina, since the beginning of January this year, a woman is murdered every 24 hours for sexist violence, according to the latest measurement by the Adriana Marisel Zambrano Femicide Observatory in Argentina. Of the 39 femicides that have occurred in Colombia so far in 2021 until February 10, there were only 18 arrests, and only six of the alleged perpetrators committed suicide. The Fundación Feminicides Colombia, which is an observatory of violence against women, assures in its latest report that of those 39 femicides, five of the victims are minors and one is a trans woman. In nine events there was a prior complaint, and in 23 the aggressor was a partner or an ex-partner. The Brazilian Forum on Public Security registered 2,000 children orphaned by gender violence in Brazil. In the first half of 2020, femicides increased 1.6%. Every 2 minutes a woman is attacked, with 120,000 cases of bodily injury during the pandemic. From March to August 2020, the country registered a femicide rate per 100,000 female inhabitants of 0.56 in 12 states. The Brazilian Public Security Forum pointed out that in the first half of 2020, the South American country reported an increase in the rate of femicides by 1.6 percent. "Every two minutes a woman is attacked and there were 120,000 cases of bodily injury during the pandemic," said the agency. In Mexico, an average of 10 women are victims of femicide and intentional homicide every day. Mexico registered an annual increase of 0.3% in femicides in 2020, which means that at least 1,015 women died in a murder typified by sexist or gender violence. The most dangerous age to be a woman in Mexico is between 20 and 24 years old, since there is a marked increase of 15.3% in femicides and a growth of 14.9% for the ages between 25 and 29 years, according to the UN Women Feminicide Violence report. “Especially worrying is that most of the homicides of women occur at younger ages; in 2019, just over half occurred in the ages between 15 and 34 years (53%); that is, there were 1,988 homicides”, the report stated. According to the Puerto Rico Gender Equity Observatory, in 2020 alone, some 60 women were murdered on the island of just over 3 million inhabitants, although the authorities only officially recognized eight cases as femicides. In recent decades, the island has experienced an alarming increase in acts of gender violence and femicides, which were accentuated after the passage of Hurricane María in 2017 and, more recently, due to the coronavirus crisis. The island's government is the first country to declare a "state of emergency" for femicide, in a decision similar to the one made in December 2019 in Uruguay by then-President Tabaré Vázquez. The state of emergency decreed allows the island's government to take urgent actions and allocate funds to face situations considered borderline. According to an official statement, the order seeks to "establish, promote and execute protection, prevention and orientation programs against gender violence and establish programs for the care of victims."