A legal battle wonAfter the turn of the century, femicide slowly but steadily became a more recognized social and legal category in Latin America. Wider use of the term in the media as well as the activist work of numerous feminist organizations proved instrumental to the categorization of these crimes as a type of first-degree murder in countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. The institution of femicide as an aggravated case of homicide motivated by sexism and misogyny replaced its former classification as voluntary manslaughter, which could substantially alleviate the perpetrator’s conviction. Likewise, its previous justification as a crime of passion has been gradually abandoned both by legal doctrine and case law.
Bridging the gap between reporting and realitySince the early 2010s, as Latin American societies gained awareness of violence against women, many governments in the region have increased their efforts to prevent and document gender-based criminal phenomena. For instance, the region's two most populous countries, Brazil and Mexico, had the highest number of registered femicide victims in 2021. However, the femicide rate per 100,000 women that same year was higher in smaller countries in the region, notably Honduras, Saint Lucia, and Belize.
Higher numbers on record do not always yield clear conclusions: while they could point to increased violence, they could also indicate more frequent reporting and response from the authorities. Though awareness of the issue is expanding, it remains difficult to conclude whether femicide and related violence against women is more common in Latin America than other regions around the world because of widespread problems of reporting. Victims of gender violence often face a lack of social validation and due process, or fear retaliation from the perpetrators.