It’s time for accountability.
Impunity for violence against women remains a massive problem. Donald Trump hasn’t helped.
From historic convictions to impunity for gang rapes, 2016 has been a year of highs and lows when it comes to efforts to stem violence against women.
The annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10) are a time to take stock of progress and failings in combatting this pervasive human rights abuse.
In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) reached its first conviction for sexual violence. It found a former Democratic Republic of Congo vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, guilty of rape, murder, and pillage in neighbouring Central African Republic. Bemba was found guilty under the concept of “command responsibility,” in which civilian and military superiors can be held criminally liable for crimes committed by troops under their control.
The murder of 22-year-old Jeremy Barrios, a young environmentalist in Guatemala, has increased concerns over the threats that environmentalist defenders endure and the failure of the state to provide protection to organisations under threat.
Barrios was shot and killed in Guatemala city on November 12. His murder is in many ways a dark symbol for Guatemala, a country in the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, where the average age of the population is, precisely, 22 and where at least ten environmental activists – most of them indigenous – were murdered in 2015.
Some in the United States may be familiar with the murder of Berta Cáceres, who led an indigenous resistance against the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras, earlier this year. But a new report from Oxfam warns there is a much bloodier campaign of violence directed at human-rights activists across Latin America.
Titled, “The risks of defending human rights: The rising tide of attacks against human rights activists in Latin America,” the report states that while 185 human-rights defenders murdered worldwide in 2015, 122 of these murders occurred in Latin America.
Much of this killing appears to be direct relation to protests against trans-national extractive enterprises, often involving firms from Canada and the United States benefiting from state support.