Out of the 25 countries in the world with the highest rates of violence against women in the world, 14 of them are in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN Women). Of the top 10 countries considered to be the most dangerous for females, 7 are in Latin America (UN Women). These disturbing statistics have led people to question what exactly it is about Latin America that makes it so prone to this form of violence—and what, if anything, can be done to change this pattern.
“I saw the [drug cartel] kill someone on the street as I was leaving school. They saw me running away. The threats started this day. They told me if I said anything or moved, they’d kill me. They’d look for me, find me and kill me. The[y] had raped me twice, kidnapped me four times, beat my partner, and mistreated me in so many other ways. They’d said they’d kill me. They also said if I didn’t leave, they’d find my family and kill them, too. So, I decided to go.” Anya, a woman who has fled Honduras, quoted in the UNHCR Women on the Run Report. October 2015).
“Reality is so bereft of humanity, so barbaric, that we cannot grasp it without the delicacy of art. Through art we can feel the loss, and we can understand it without falling prey to sensationalism,” explained filmmaker Lourdes Portillo when I interviewed to her in 2009. My whole life has been shaped by art and literature, and it is no coincidence that one documentary – Lorudes Portillo’s Señorita Extraviada (Missing Young Woman, 2001) – changed the course of my life.