War on Drugs Becomes "War on Women"
A report from two Nobel Peace Prize laureates highlights military violence against women in cartel-threatened countries.
Increased militarization as a result of the drug war has created an "epidemic" of violence against women in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, according to a new report authored by Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu. All three countries face mounting security threats from drug cartels—and in response, the governments have increased police and military protection of their citizens. But these efforts to improve "security" have also stirred up violence and perpetuated abuse, particularly against women, declares the report: "The war on drugs...has become a war on women." It was written after a team of researchers spoke with hundreds of female survivors of violence, presidents, activists and high-ranking officials, and gathered statistics to illustrate the problem. In Honduras, they found the homicide rate for women rose 257% between 2002 to 2010—four times faster than that of men. In Mexico, homicides towards women have increased by 40% since 2006; and in Guatemala, the number tripled between 2000 and 2010—a time period during which security aid to Guatemala also increased threefold. A portion of the increased security backing comes from US forces—who have allegedly been involved in a number of attacks against women, although the DEA claims in only a "supporting role." Another disturbing finding is that these crimes against females are often carried out with impunity, due to flawed, fragile judicial and political systems that "implicitly condone" violence against women. Williams says, "I am horrified, but the truth is, this happens over and over again to women in the region."