A high number of crimes against women — including femicide, sexual assault and domestic abuse — in El Salvador has led the country to create a special court specifically to try the violent crimes, TeleSur TV reported. The Salvadoran Congress approved the Jurisdiction and Specialized Courts for a Life Free of Violence and Discrimination Act Monday, an attempt to stymy what the United Nations has said is a reputation of being one of the world’s worst locations for women.
“With this ruling, the rights of women are safeguarded when they are injured or discriminated against, so that through a specialized judge, who must be trained on the subject, will follow the specific cases of violence,” Mario Tenorio, member of the Great Alliance for National Unity party, said to TeleSur TV.
Lawyers and judges that are trained to deal with violence against women will be the ones to prosecute these cases. Across the country, special trial, magistrate and sentencing courts will be created.
Many young women try to flee to the United States from El Salvador, citing extreme levels of violence toward them at the hands of the country’s gangs, NPR reported. Many, however, are caught in Mexico before they reach the U.S. and are forced to go back to El Salvador.
“Impunity for crimes, the socioeconomic disparities and the [machismo] culture foster a generalized state of violence, subjecting women to a continuum of multiple violent acts, including murder, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and commercial sexual exploitation,” a United Nations report on violence against women in El Salvador read.
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El Salvador had the highest rate of femicide — killings of women motivated by their gender — in the world, according to a 2011 study. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of cases of domestic violence in El Salvador skyrocketed from 200 per year to 600.