To Top

El Salvador is the Deadliest Country for Women in Latin America

El Salvador now ranks as the deadliest country for women in Latin America, third in the world only after Syria and Lesotho. According to the Institute of Legal Medicine, 524 Salvadoran women – 1 in every 5,000 – were killed in 2016. This number, however, does not even account for the bodies dumped outside of the morgue by covert criminals.

El Salvador has its hands full with crime. Gang violence has turned the country into the “murder capital” of the world, according to ABC News. The murder rate is 22 times the rate of that in the United States, and the common gang motto is “mata, viola, controla,” or “kill, rape, control.” Trying to flee the threats of gang members, a record 17,512 unaccompanied Salvadoran minors were recorded attempting to cross the United States border last year.

While the number of dead men involved between the “maras,” or gangs, of El Salvador fluctuate based on the government’s relationship with the gangs, the number of dead women remains the same. Women are the forgotten, abused, and uncared for members of Salvadoran society. They are victims of violence and sexual assault not only by gang members but also by fathers, uncles, husbands, brothers, and friends.

According to data collected by National Civil Police (PNC), there is an average of 15 complaints of sexual violence per day in El Salvador, and approximately 20 percent of crimes are acts of incest. As later referenced by the New York Times, the data also revealed that almost 75 percent of rapes occur in the victims’ homes and that about 70 percent of the victims are under the age of 20.

Survivors of rape and sexual violence struggle to find help. Abortion is illegal in El Salvador, even for women who become pregnant from rape, and those who are caught seeking abortions are persecuted as heavily as gang members themselves. Evelyn Hernandez, who was only 19 years old, was convicted of aggravated homicide when she chose to give birth outside of a hospital and the infant died. The penalty for such a crime is 30 years in prison, the same as the punishment for any gang member who commits a murder on the streets of El Salvador. Doctors have been threatened for aiding with abortions, and some doctors often report to the authorities when a patient is seeking an abortion.

The director of Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace (ORMUSA), Jeanette Urquilla, says, “Women’s bodies were treated like territory during the civil war and continue to be today by the gangs.” Women are raped and killed by gang members, or abducted and claimed as “girlfriends” of the gangs, known as “novias de las pandillas.

Both the government and Salvadoran society itself has made no effort to help or protect women, and subsequently, the violence against women continues. Women are not disposable, but unless something in El Salvador changes, this attitude of misogyny and disregard for female life will persist.

Featured Image by Alison McKellar on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

1 Comment

  1. Avatar


    August 2, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I wish that this article was formatted so that I could print it. I want to use it in court as persuasive evidence but right now it prints like 20 words to a page with advertisements taking up the rest of the space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Be Informed

  • How to Manage Perfectionism

    Perfectionism can be extremely harmful as well as difficult to manage. Luckily there are ways to cope and improve your mental...

    Lydia SchapiroSeptember 24, 2020
  • Naomi Osaka Advocates for Racial Justice

    Learn about how star tennis player, Naomi Osaka, shows her social activism and support to racial justice on the court.

    Lydia SchapiroSeptember 16, 2020
  • Sustainability at Home

    Cultivating sustainability in the home is easier than you think! Learn about the easy ways to make your home more eco-friendly....

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 27, 2020
  • How Will College Change in the Fall?

    Keep reading to learn about the question marks surrounding the coming semester.

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 26, 2020
  • Egypt Making Strides Toward Equality

    Egypt took a step further in the direction of women’s rights a few days ago, approving a law that would protect...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 21, 2020
  • Black Mothers: The Risk of Giving Birth

    Serena Williams was not the first black woman to be ignored by her doctor post-partum. Black mothers consistently balance the joy...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 14, 2020
  • No More Bumps: 5 Steps to Smooth Skin

    Ladies, it’s hard to feel nice and smooth after shaving when ingrown hairs and bumps immediately take the spotlight. However, not...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 13, 2020
  • Healthy Social Media Use

    Social media presence has increased for decades, remaining incredibly prevalent in everyday life. Cultivate healthy habits by learning about the effects...

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 12, 2020
  • No Woman was Surprised by What Happened to AOC

    A few weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was insulted by Representative Ted Yoho being called a “f—ing bitch” and “dangerous.” Afterwards,...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 12, 2020
  • The Meaning Behind #ChallengeAccepted

    Recently, a trend has surfaced on Instagram where women nominate one another privately to post a black and white picture of...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 11, 2020