Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, has begged for an end to the “horrible crime” of femicide in Honduras, a country that is suffering from a veritable epidemic of violent crimes against women in the last decade.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, violent deaths of women in Honduras increased by 263.4% between 2005 and 2013. The Special Rapporteur highlighted “scores of concerns” regarding the high levels of domestic violence, femicide, and sexual violence.
The lack of accountability for violence against women and girls is a pressing concern in the country, with a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes. In 2013, less than 2% of murders of women were even investigated in Honduras.
While presiding over the Catholic devotion of the “Stations of the Cross” on Good Friday—a meditation on 14 key moments of Jesus’ passion and death—the Honduran cardinal paused at the Eighth Station, where “Jesus meets the Holy Women” as He is carrying His cross, to reflect on the plight of women in the Central American country.
Rodríguez asked the faithful to weep for “unconfessed sins,” addressing those who “unleash on women the violence that they carry within themselves.”
“Jesus wants women to be loved as an inviolable gift for all humanity,” he said. “Let there be no more femicides in Honduras. We must put an end to this horrible crime and learn to respect the dignity of every woman,” he said.
According to Alda Facieo, the UN representative for discrimination against women, Honduras now has the highest rate of femicide in the world, excluding those countries currently at war.
The cardinal also reached out to women enslaved by fear and those who are victims of exploitation and human trafficking.
Trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation is underreported in Honduras, mainly due the hidden nature of the crime and the pervasiveness of organized crime in the country.
All of us are called to respect every woman “just as we respect our own mothers and our heavenly mother as well,” the cardinal said.
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