To mark November 25, we offer information regarding the violence faced by women who defend women’s right to a life free from violence.
We also call on States to ensure that on this November 25, the right of women to demonstrate and protest be guaranteed and respected throughout the region.
According to the information gathered in our Mesoamerican Registry of Attacks against Women Defenders, at least 768 attacks were committed last year against 131 women defenders and 41 organizations that defend women’s right to a life free from violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Three of these women defenders were killed: Grisell Perez Rivera and Jasibhe Natalie Diaz Morales in Mexico, and Nesly Consuegra Monterroso in Guatemala. We make this information public in the context of November 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The majority of these incidents (500) were collective attacks – as compared with 154 directed at women defenders individually and 112 against organizations or groups. These attacks took place in public spaces, primarily on the street (56%), while one in ten was perpetrated through online or electronic means such as social media, phones, email or text messaging apps. We identified components of gender discrimination in three out of every four attacks.
States were identified as the main assailants against women who defend a life free from violence, being responsible for more than half the attacks (56.1%) through security forces and public authorities in different levels of government. Meanwhile, one out of every five perpetrators (20%) is unknown, either because the person carrying out the direct in-person attack is unidentified or because it is an unknown online user.
A look at the countries
In Mexico, we registered 519 attacks against 91 women defenders and 5 organizations that defend women’s right to a life free from violence. The majority of these attacks took place during collective actions such as feminist demonstrations, during which participants faced restrictions, obstructions and/or attacks for demonstrating peacefully; physical and verbal violence; threats; excessive use of force and arbitrary detentions. We also registered 23 cases of sexual abuse (entailing non-consensual or coercive touching or undressing) during collective actions in defense of the right to a life free from violence. The police stood out as the main actor responsible for the attacks taking place in the country (38%).
In Nicaragua, we registered 155 attacks against 17 women defenders and 35 organizations that defend women’s right to a life free from violence. Nearly half of these attacks (58%) were perpetrated by public authorities. Standing out are attacks perpetrated by public authorities using legislation to revoke legal status and hinder social organizations’ freedom of association and access to financial resources. Just in 2022, authorities in this country revoked the legal status of 30 social organizations that work for the rights of women and girls to a life free from violence, affecting both women defenders and women victims of violence who received support and legal or psychological accompaniment from these organizations.
In Honduras, we registered 70 attacks against 15 women defenders of women’s right to a life free from violence. Standing out are harassment and threats of personal attacks against women defenders who defend this right. Nearly half of these attacks (47%) were perpetrated by someone who the woman defender had previously denounced, or by the lawyer or people who support the person.
In El Salvador, the attacks registered against those who defend the right to a life free from violence (14) were primarily collective attacks aimed at organizations, taking place on the street (restrictions to the right to mobilize, physical attacks and harassment) and online (hacking, surveillance and unauthorized access to accounts or networks). Unknown online users were the main assailants, followed by State institutions. All the registered attacks included components of gender violence.
Women defenders, key actors in the struggle to eliminate violence against women
Women who defend women’s right to a life free from violence and their organizations are the ones that accompany the victims of sexist violence, who file claims with authorities and denounce publicly, who conduct prevention campaigns and seek shelter and protection for women and their children, among many other actions. IM-Defensoras believes that recognizing the importance of their work, as well as ensuring that they can demonstrate on the street and conduct their efforts safely and without restrictions, is urgent and crucial in a context like the one in Mesoamerica, where violence against women is generalized and normalized, and where the highest rates of femicides and impunity in the world are found.
Finally, we call on States to ensure that on this November 25, the right of women to demonstrate and protest be guaranteed and respected throughout the region.