Sociologists say that the family is the foundation of any society. But we see today many families in Honduras that are hopelessly disconnected and effectively destroyed by the violence that, daily, spreads and manifests itself in so different ways against women. The statistics on the societal impact of violence against Honduran women have been compiled by the United Nations and organizations that focus on advocating for the rights of women, and much of this data shows a marked increase in violence toward women since the coup in 2009. The impact of this on a matricentrista culture, where the woman is the center of everything is devastating. We in Honduras are having to endure an intolerable degree of moral poverty, directly related to the violence against women and the countless broken homes that are the product of this senseless reality.
This is the kind of society in which are children are growing up. Think about what this means for our future as a nation.
In Honduras, the prime setting for attacks against women is the home -- that of the victim or a relative, or the offender himself. It is this setting where the perpetrator acts with the greatest freedom, and women -- particularly young girls -- are most helpless. However, Honduran women are also commonly attacked in public places, reflecting the impunity of these violent acts and a prevailing social attitude of acceptance. The seriousness of the abuse has grown to more commonly include crimes such as rape, attempted rape, and abduction.
Of note is the high number of men detained for violence against women. Such attacks constitute the fourth most common cause of detention or imprisonment in Honduras. It is a form of crime that is regularly reported by the national media, and which produces tremendous anxiety, and even panic, among families and communities throughout the country. Amazingly, there is a near-total absence on the part of the government to seriously address this problem.
The legitimacy of the use of force as a means of trying to resolve conflict in Honduras is fueled by the state's inability to maintain social order, making it an acceptable form of social behavior in the country. Violence has become "normal" in Honduras, making its use against women and children -- regardless of social class -- even more problematic.
Whether natural or human-made, violence and in its various manifestations (... murder, robbery, kidnapping, domestic violence, rape) is defined as "the use or threatened use of physical force or psychological harm with intent" (Buvinic, Morrison and Shifter, 1999). Violence from the point of view of human rights is an evil in itself. It is responsible for the loss of years of the mental health of Honduras' people, and it has gradually become so absorbed by Honduran society that it may be evolving into a self-perpetuating life of its own.
This violence is a product of our own fears. We are the children of it. We practice it and we use it when we deem it necessary... in the home, at work, at social functions, in business, in politics. The threat of it is always present in situations where power and control may be in play. This is unacceptable. More than ever, women are assuming more prominent roles in different careers and positions within our society, making us more vulnerable to violence, and the indifference to it by Honduran institutions. We cannot continue to quietly and passively accept this. (3/9/13) (photo courtesy Internet)
Note: The author is a journalist, blogger, and human rights activist. She is the founder of a human rights group in Honduras called Xibalba known for its work with youth who have become members of gangs. Itsmania Pineda Platero has been nominated for the annual Netizen Prize, sponsored by Reporters Without Borders and Google, for her work to fight against government censorship, particularly as it relates to freedom of expression online.