Violent Deaths of Women Rise in Guatemala in 2008 Despite New Gender-Based Violence Law
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:59 AM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on 28 February 2009 on the human rights situation in Guatemala during the year 2008. The report includes a section on violence against women, which affirms that the number of women who died violently in Guatemala in 2008 was 722, while the number was 590 the previous year. The number of deaths increased, even though the country criminalized gender-based violence in the public and private spheres with the April 2008 “Law against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence against Women” (decree 22-2008).

The law provides for sentences ranging from 25 to 50 years for femicide (Article 6), five to 12 years for physical or sexual violence (Article 7), five to eight years for psychological violence (Article 7), five to eight years for economic violence (Article 8). The law obligates the state to guarantee victims access to information and holistic assistance (Article 13), as well as access to shelters (Article 16), free legal assistance (Article 19). The state also must strengthen the criminal investigation system and create a specialized judicial body to work with this new law.

The UN report recommends that authorities create clear guidelines to make sure the law is implemented. Training is also lacking and is necessary to bring the new law into force.

Compiled from: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the activities of her office in Guatemala in 2008 (A/HRC/10/31/Add.1), 28 February 2009; Decreto Numero 22-2008, Congreso de la Republica de Guatemala, Diario de Centro America, (7 May 2008).