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Honduras

red-nacional-honduras-jassUnder the post-coup government the country continues to experience violations of human rights, gender-based violence and assassinations, particularly against members of the pro-democracy movement that formed in response to the coup. The successor administration has reversed gains in women’s reproductive and sexual rights, labor rights and rural land reforms. None of the crimes committed by the coup government have been investigated or prosecuted, including forced disappearances, rapes and murders. As international attention diminishes, there is a serious risk of consolidating the anti-democratic measures imposed during the coup and continuing attacks on opposition members and leaders, including the widespread use of gender-based violence to harm and intimidate women activists and leaders.

The problem is that the entire system is a system of corruption, a system of injustice, a system of complete impunity" - Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, January 2012

Members of the military have retaken national control, assuming social roles and positions that traditionally fall within civilian purview. This situation not only creates a climate of control and terror throughout the country, but also allows for the normalization of military presence and, in some places, outright occupation. The government justifies the military takeover under the aegis of combating crime, the war on drugs, and providing security. The lack of governance coupled with a crackdown on social movements and pro-democracy activists has eroded the security and human rights situation to the point thatHonduras, as of 2011, is ranked the most violent country in the world with a murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The spike in femicides - the systematic murder of women with state complicity or responsibility - is particularly alarming. According to data compiled by the Center for Women’s Rights (CDM), the femicide rate jumped by 257.3% between 2002 and 2010. The figures continue to escalate in 2011, with more than one woman murdered per day.

After Mexico, Honduras is the country with the largest number of journalists assassinated in Latin America, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

In Honduras, freedom of expression does not exist..." - Frank LaRue Lewy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Women human right defenders in Honduras often face threats, defamation and manipulation from public officials and politicians. In addition, authorities, government and media controlled by a handful of business groups continue to discredit women human rights defenders by linking them falsely with terrorists groups, drug traffickers, and common criminals. This endangers women defenders’ lives and cuts them off from the communities they are defending. 

Supporting Activists

Since the coup in 2009, JASS Mesoamerica has collaborated with a number of women’s and human rights groups, such as Feminists in Resistance and the Center for Women’s Rights, who have taken active roles in organizing and mobilizing within the resistance movement. By linking our training processes to political organizing and action, JASS Mesoamerica builds its network and fosters new relationships with women defenders and women’s rights organizations – convening communications and ICT trainings with Feminists in Resistance and indigenous women, mobilizing emergency resources to support women’s organizations during the coup and supporting and facilitating conversations and engagement between women activists, and government officials and civil society actors in the United States. In addition, JASS Mesoamerica supports the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Honduras in its work to denounce violence against women leaders and defenders.  

Related Regional Articles

JASS coauthored a report on the current situation of violence against women in Honduras presented to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo during her eight day visit to the country, often dubbed one of the world’s most violent countries.

"We are united in our diversity by a common experience of repression,” explained Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic at an unusual gathering between 30 women human rights defenders in Central America and Mexico and 40 donors committed to advancing social justice and human rights.

As uncertainty and tension build, JASS Mesoamerica and our growing women defenders’ networks appeal to the international community to join us in speaking out on violence against women defenders and human rights violations in Honduras.

What's in play in these elections is not just the person and the party that will govern the next four years but the future of one of the most violent and impoverished nations on earth. For women, who often bear the brunt of trying to feed families, defend their homes and lands from forced displacement, and stand up for human rights, the scenarios do not look bright.

These three articles are part of a series written by JASS' Honduras Country Coordinator on the 2013 electoral process in Honduras from the perspective of women human rights defenders in the country.