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PROJECT: Accessing Justice: Femicide and the Rule of Law in Latin America

The Wilson Center is launching a new project examining gender-based violence in Latin America with a focus on its most extreme form, femicide—the killing of a woman due to her gender—through a rule of law perspective.

In Latin America, which has the highest rate of gender-based sexual violence in the world, many countries such as Brazil, El Salvador, and Mexico have passed laws criminalizing femicide and domestic abuse. Yet region-wide, almost 98% of cases involving femicide and violence against women and girls went unpunished in 2016 (UN Women).

When and why are laws insufficient to protect women, and how can we reduce and eliminate barriers to implementation? To answer these questions, the project “Accessing Justice: Femicide and the Rule of Law in Latin America” will focus on case studies from Brazil, El Salvador, and Mexico and work to facilitate information-sharing and, through examining the experiences of women and men involved in this space, draw out best practices for confronting and reducing GBV in Latin America.

Check back in the coming months, as we begin posting event announcements, blog posts, videos, podcasts, data analysis, and more as the Wilson Center works to illuminate the scale of this challenge and examine the path forward. In the meantime, take a look below at some of our past research on the critical issue of gender-based violence.

To receive updates and event invitations about this project, please subscribe to our mailing list (link opens a new window). This project is part of the Wilson Center's 2020 Spotlight on World Disorder: Challenges to Democratic Values & Rule of Law.

Spotlight: Justice for Women Podcast Logo

Spotlight: Justice for Women Podcast Series

“Spotlight: Justice for Women,” a podcast by the Wilson Center, explores gender-based violence and the barriers women face when they seek justice. Although many countries have passed laws criminalizing violence against women, attitudes toward gender and violence are complex and deeply-ingrained in societies around the world—with fatal consequences. Join us as we explore why violence persists, and what policymakers can do to help women live free from fear.


All too often the women and girls subjected to violence are violated twice – the first time when they are subjected to violence, and the second time when they seek, and do not find, the services and justice to which they are entitled.

- Michele Bachelet, former Executive Director of UN Women and former President of Chile

We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it's almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern.

- Rebecca Solnit, American author and historian 

Learn more about the programs involved in this project

  • Since its founding in 2006, the Brazil Institute has served as a highly respected and credible source of research and debate on key issues of bilateral concern between Brazil and the United States. The primary role of the Brazil Institute—the only country-specific policy institution focused on Brazil in Washington—is to foster understanding of Brazil’s complex reality and to support more consequential relations between Brazilian and U.S. institutions in the public and private sectors, as well as in academia and between citizens.  To learn more, click here.

  • The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action. To learn more, click here.

  • Life and health are the most basic human rights, yet disparities between and within countries continue to grow. No single solution or institution can address the variety of health concerns the world faces. By leveraging, building on, and coordinating the Wilson Center’s strong regional and cross-cutting programming, the Maternal Health Initiative (MHI) promotes dialogue and understanding among practitioners, scholars, community leaders, and policymakers. To learn more, click here.

  • The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute. To learn more, click here.

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