Ecuador: Classifying Femicide in Penal Code
Friday, March 29, 2013 12:20 PM

In recent years, murders of women have increased sharply throughout Ecuador. The Metropolitan Observatory of Citizen Security reported 21 femicides in Quito in 2012 and 28 in 2011. The community is demanding greater security for women. In an effort to aid in the fight against violence against women, Ecuador is seeking to classify “femicide” as a crime in the new penal code.

Femicide is “the murder of a girl, teenager or woman because she is a woman or because of the cultural constructions according to which men close to women feel that they have power over them,” explained lawmaker María Paula Romo. The legislature is expected to approve the new code by May 24, 2013. The bill describes femicide as the murder of a woman “because she is a woman, in clearly established circumstances.” The bill goes on to explain these circumstances. Femicide will be punishable by up to 28 years in prison.
Psychologist Angélica Palacios, who specializes in protection from sexual crimes, explains that she does not believe simply classifying the crime will bring about change in the country. She explains, “[t]ypifying it will not help prevent or avoid it. But this is a tool to raise awareness, to call things by their name, to train and sensitize people in the justice system, and even to obtain statistical information that enables us to work to change things.” A change to the penal code to address the issue of femicide in the country is a step in the right direction in the fight end violence against women in the Ecuador. Ecuador follows a number of other Latin American countries that have adopted femicide in their legislation: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.
Compiled from: Melendez, Angela, “Naming Femicide to Fight Violence Against Women in Ecuador,” Inter Press Service News Agency (25 March 2013).