Venezuelan Feminist Collectives Demand End to Impunity in Machista Violence Cases

Feminist organizations denounced mounting sexist practices in state institutions causing legal delays that cost women’s lives.

Guayaquil, Ecuador, March 8, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan feminist organizations mobilized on International Working Women’s Day to demand comprehensive measures against rising cases of gender-based violence.

On Tuesday, a number of grassroots collectives held a protest outside the attorney general’s office in the Venezuelan capital to reject sexist practices inside the country’s judicial system that revictimizes women in situations of machista violence.

“Women are killed by legal delays!” and “No more femicides!” cried out dozens of activists during the rally. The feminist groups carried a document with their demands and suggestions for the correct implementation of the 2007 Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence.

“We are calling for no more discrimination against women and young girls who reach institutions for help but instead face re-victimization, fostering procedural delays and impunity,” Laura Cano, from feminist collective Tinta Violeta, told Venezuelanalysis.

The young activist explained that Venezuelan women are confronted with several obstacles while they are trying to introduce legal action against their abusers. “They are subjected to a so-called ‘dress code’, which means that if they are wearing a skirt or a dress they are denied entrance.”

Cano added that women are often sent back and forth between institutions and forced to repeatedly recount their stories. “This re-victimization translates into institutional violence and we want all these practices to be investigated, eradicated and sanctioned,” she stated.

According to data collected by Tinta Violeta, 369 women (46 of them underage) were in situations of machista violence between March 2020 and 2021. At least 46 percent never completed the judicial process and 6 percent had their cases rejected.

The feminist activist went on to stress that abortion decriminalization, sexual education in schools and access to contraceptives methods continue to be front and center in the struggle. “The region has taken an important turn regarding women’s sexual and reproductive rights with abortion becoming legal in some countries. Venezuela cannot stay behind,” she concluded.

Tuesday’s feminist protest specifically sought to address the alarming increase of femicides. Speaking to Venezuelanalysis, Venezuelan researcher Aimee Zambrano recalled that since 2016 the country does not have official monthly and annual reports regarding this extreme form of machista violence.

“Attorney General Tarek William Saab talks about 610 femicides and 720 cases of gender violence in three years of his administration [he was appointed in August 2017], but he does not specify the yearly number,” emphasized Zambrano. The data and the resolution of these cases are also not widely communicated to the nation and to feminist organizations.

Facing this data inconsistency, in 2019 Zambrano launched the Femicide Monitor, a report published monthly on the Utopix website, with information gathered by scanning local media outlets. “In 2020 we counted 256 cases and in 2021 we had 239. We have likewise seen a rise in trans-femicides, with six cases.” In 2022, there have been 23 femicides so far.

For its part, the Center for Justice and Peace’s (Cepaz) Femicide Observatory tallied 290 femicides in Venezuela in 2021 while 84 Venezuelan women migrants were killed abroad that same year. In January 2022, the report documented 25 new cases.

Zambrano stressed that femicides are preventable by “jailing the aggressor or creating protection measures for women” during the legal process. Instead, officials have opted for performing the role of “mediators” between couples, “forcing women to face their abusers against their will.” Additionally, some victims have their legal complaints dismissed altogether.

The feminist anthropologist went on to add that the vast majority of femicides are committed by women’s partners. This is followed by female community leaders that are killed by criminal organizations for territorial control as well as revenge between rival gangs that target women using them as “war bounties.”

Venezuela has a model legal framework for women’s rights within the 2007 Organic Law for the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence, which has been reformed several times to add more than 20 types of gender-based violence. However, lack of inter-institutional coordination, inconsistent official data regarding machista violence, sexist pratices, and the absence of public policies have prevented the law’s successful implementation.

International Working Women’s Day was also marked by a large anti-imperialist march that took place in central Caracas. Minister for Women and Gender Equality Diva Guzmán said the mobilization was in honor of Venezuelan women workers while President Nicolás Maduro congratulated the large demonstration.

The “Great Anti-imperialist March” rejected Washington’s interventionism around the world and the economic blockade imposed against the Caribbean country.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Caracas.