Mesoamerican Registry of Attacks against Women Defenders: July to September 2023 – Preliminary data

1,375 attacks against at least 300 women defenders and 21 organizations between July and September of this year.

  •  3 sister defenders were killed: Juana Maria Martinez, woman defender of the Indigenous Pech Peoples and Soraya Alvarez, trans defender of LGBTI rights in Honduras; and Zulema Guadalupe Ramirez, woman defender of workers’ rights and member of the Sex Workers Network in Mexico.

  • 826 attacks were collective, 485 were perpetrated against women defenders at an individual level and 64 against organizations or groups of women defenders.

  • Harassment (11%) continues to be the most frequent form of attack, followed by different types of violence (physical, psychological and verbal)[M1]  (11%) and threats (9%).

  • Regionally, the main assailants were unknown persons (33%), followed by public authorities (25%). 

  • Digital attacks have increased in this period, with 156 attacks registered – almost 5 times more than the previous quarter.

  • Between January and September we have registered 4,456 attacks.

agressions against whrd january september 2023

A look at the countries

  • In Honduras, attacks continue against women who defend land and territory, representing 62% of all attacks registered during this quarter. Such are the cases of Garifuna woman defender Norma Lino and her fellow defenders of the Garifuna territory in Puerto Castilla, who were attacked by armed men; the peasant group Brisas del Humuya, where 46 families face threats and harassment; and woman defender and OFRANEH coordinator Miriam Miranda, who experienced a failed armed operation in September similar to the one that ended the life of Berta Caceres. These attacks speak to the prevalence of the main forms of attack, where harassment (19%), threats (12%) and psychological violence (7%) stand out. Also notable are the 37 attacks against those who defend the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, which add to the increasing number of transfemicides in the last two years, such as Soraya Alvarez Portillo, trans activist killed on 22 September; despite having being granted protection measures, these were later revoked, leaving her in a state of greater defenselessness.

  • In Nicaragua, standing out during this period are the attacks against women defenders who defend the right to political participation and to participate in decision-making spaces (48%). Between July and September, an increase was registered in surveillance and digital and physical harassment of family members of women political prisoners and women opposition leaders in exile, including 42 viral hate attacks and 31 cases of cyberbullying. In September, family members reported police surveillance and harassment, primarily in the context of festivities commemorating independence. There was also an increase in attacks against those who defend the right to truth, justice and reparations (15%). Among the attacks, there is a new way of holding trials, where hearings take place without the transfer of the accused to the courthouse; the hearings are instead held via video conference and without the possibility for the accused to communicate with the person she has designated for her legal defense.

  • In El Salvador, standing out are the attacks against women defenders of women’s rights, sexual and reproductive rights, and LGBTI rights, and their organizations, which have included smear campaigns and cyberbullying. [E1] [P2] It is also important to highlight that human rights and journalists’ organizations issued a report in the context of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) 187th Period of Sessions, which registered more than 6,436 complaints of human rights abuses and violations of detained persons and their family members as a result of the enactment of the state of emergency.

  • In Mexico, during this period, attacks against women defenders searching for the disappeared doubled compared to the previous quarter, as did violations of their right to truth, justice and reparations (52%) and the restriction, obstruction and/or attacks to collect, obtain, receive and possess information (20%). Here, physical violence against the searching mothers of the collective Disappeared of Queretaro stands out. In August, 12 hours after launching a protest near the State Attorney General’s Office, the women defenders were physically and verbally assaulted by uniformed persons wearing Crime Investigation Police badges. Additionally, 26 attacks were registered against members of the independent search brigades of the collective Until We Find You in Guanajuato, who denounced that the State government withdrew state police protection during their field searches.

Digital attacks July to September 2023

We registered 156 digital attacks in this quarter, representing 11% of all attacks and a fivefold increase in this type of attack when compared with the previous quarter. This increase is primarily explained by the situation in Nicaragua, where digital surveillance and harassment has intensified against the opposition and women human rights defenders. The assailants linked to these attacks are for the most part unknown online users.

  • At an individual level, 78 digital attacks were registered. Among the most significant, we see viral hate campaigns, followed by cyberbullying and online surveillance.

  • 73 of these attacks were collective, with viral hate campaigns as most common, followed by online persecution.

  • 5 of the digital attacks were against organizations or groups, standing out are attacks related to the closing of organizational accounts in Mexico and Honduras.


  • Regionally, the main perpetrators of the attacks registered during this period were unknown persons, both physical and online users (33%), followed by public authorities (25%).



Police agents

Unknown online users

Public authorities (38%)

Unknown persons and online users (30%)

Police (9%)



Public authorities (22%)

Unknown persons and online users (18%)

Police (17%)

Unknown persons and online users (47%)

Police (23%)

Public authorities (17%)

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