June 2015

Violence, an eternal battle for women in Bolivia

Bolivia is qualified by the Pan American Health Organization as one of the worst countries in Latin America on violence against women. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 Bolivian already experiencing violence in their lives.

By: Morgane Bret
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Avignon, France

"Stop to violence!"

Since 1989, Bolivia decides slowly for the protection of women victims of violence. The same year, the government was the first country signed the Inter-American Convention to "prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women." This text became a Bolivian law in 1994.

Child representation of domestic violence

Monica Novilla, coordinator of women's NGOs increasing violence "is the fact that women participate more in public life. And patriarchal and sexist society in which we live reacts against these societal changes and responds violently".

Domestic violence, in any country in the world deprives women to participate in the life of society, through their oppression. The numerals are alarming in Bolivia. One woman dies every three days victim of feminicide according CIDEM (information center and development of women) in 2012. At a UN report, more than 50% of the Bolivian questions were declared to have been assaulted by their entourage.

The n°348 law, an innovative text?

In 2013, the President and the Legislature of Bolivia create a law that defines the eradication of violence against women, a theme designated as national and priority.

This legislation now recognizes 16 forms of violence. Including for the first time in Bolivia, feminicide is recognized (article 7.2 "feminicide Violence is the act of extreme violence violates the fundamental right to life and causes death of women by the fact of being."). In addition to physical violence, the law takes into account the economic and patrimonial violence of the oppressed women (Section 7.10.).

Campaign to raise awareness about the law 348
Photo: Claire Leduc

It also provides services and supports to welcome, help and support women leaving their homes due to violence (Article 26). Creating community homes for women in rural areas are also provided, and should be in place by the self-governing municipalities.

In Article 70 of the Law nº348, it is recorded that judges and justices during also receive special training to best address the cases of domestic violence. "School state judges will sign agreements with universities that can organize postgraduate courses in the specialties required for the exercise of the judicial function, to demand that those who aspire to be judges subject violence against women count them with a specialization in criminal matters with a gender and human rights.”

A law that takes time to become familiar with the everyday.

Although the 2013 law is still new, it shows a real awareness of violence against women in Bolivia. Since the creation of the law 348 which guarantees women a life without violence, eight cases have to femicide been punished. Of the 206 crimes in total between January 2013 and November 2014, it does not do much, but it shows that gradually femicide are recognized as a crime.

The first trial, since the creation of the law took place on January 21, 2014. A young Bolivian 18 year was sentenced to the maximum penalty for strangling and burying his girlfriend.

Despite the progress of the legislation, the Information Centre for Development of Women (CIDEM) believes that the lack of justice and police officers commitment creates loopholes in the women's defense system. "They are not playing well the law judges, prosecutors and lawyers. We have cases where hearings have been suspended 60 times, "complained Gloria Tapia, Communications and Media of that organization.

A long way to go to make this law a reality in Bolivia. Domestic violence attacks the dignity of individuals. As such, it constitutes an infringement of the right of women to flourish and a major obstacle to the social development of the whole nation.


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