Under 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.
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.
Long time Honduran feminist activist, Gladys Lanza's 18month prison sentence is a verdict aimed at sending a powerful message to all defenders of women’s rights in the country: “If you don’t want to be prosecuted, stay silent.”
María José Alvarado, 19 year-old Miss Honduras, was found dead and buried in an isolated ravine alongside her sister Sofía Trinidad in Northwest Honduras in mid-November. This story shines a spotlight on the severity and frequency of violence against women in Honduras.
As the fifth anniversary of the coup d’état passes, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will conduct an onsite visit to Honduras between December 1-5, 2014. Follow us with the hashtag, #HondurasEnLaMira.
We are so excited to announce that the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative—a collaborative effort between JASS Mesoamerica and five partners—received the 2014 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award on October 14th in Washington DC!