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Femicide, a crime typified in Venezuelan Law

During the pandemic, cases of femicide in the country began to become more frequent. During the month of May, the Utopix Feminicide Monitor registered 17 of these crimes in digital media.

Femicide began to be criminalized in Venezuela on November 25, 2014. An amendment to the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence made it possible for it to be counted as a crime, since previously murders against women for gender reasons were considered common homicides, without taking into account the consideration of hate crime, i.e. as a criminal act carried out because of prejudice against one or more persons for belonging to a certain social or gender group.

In the last decade, the situations experienced in Venezuela have led the State to recognize the seriousness of violence against women. and its consequences. For this reason, femicide was included as a type of crime within the jurisdiction, defined as "the extreme form of gender violence, caused by hatred or contempt for the status of women, which degenerates in their death, produced both in the public and private sphere".

The explanatory memorandum of the inclusion of this crime in the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of ViolenceIn the opinion of the Court, feminicide should be described as an autonomous criminal offense, with specific qualities that are different from those of the basic crime of homicide.

Article 57 of this legal instrument states that whoever causes the death of a woman motivated by hatred or contempt for her status as a woman shall be guilty of the following offensesThe crime is punishable by twenty (20) to twenty-five (25) years of imprisonment. In addition, the law is clear in pointing out the circumstances that may be considered as hatred or contempt for the condition of woman:

  • When the victim presents signs of sexual violence.
  • When the victim presents degrading or infamous injuries or mutilations prior or subsequent to death.
  • When the corpse of the victim has been exposed or exhibited in any public place.
  • When the perpetrator of the crime has taken advantage of the conditions of risk or physical or psychological vulnerability of the woman.
  • When the existence of a history of violence against women is proven, in any of the forms established by law, denounced or not by the victim.

The penalty may be extended to twenty-eight (28) or thirty (30) years of imprisonment in the following cases considered aggravated femicide:

  • When there is or has been a conjugal relationship or a relationship of affection between the aggressor and the victim.
  • When there is or has been between the aggressor and the victim an employment, academic or professional relationship that implies trust.
  • When the act has been committed in contempt of the victim's body, with the intention of satisfying sexual instincts.
  • When the act has been committed in the midst of trafficking in women, girls and adolescents or as part of organized crime networks.

Because it is considered a crime against human rightsThe legislation recalls that those accused of the crime of femicide will not be entitled to enjoy procedural benefits of the law or the application of alternative measures for the enforcement of the sentence.

Internationally, the legal remedies that support the fundamental rights of women and pay specific attention to violence against women are: The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Belem de Para Convention), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993).

In Latin America, femicide is also criminalized in Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and some Mexican states.

Recent cases of femicide in Venezuela

As mentioned above, the inclusion of feminicide as a crime in Venezuelan legislationThe new definition of homicide gives a new awareness to the treatment of these cases. Thanks to this typification, it is possible to determine when the causes of the homicide are particularly related to hatred or contempt for the condition of being a woman. This quality makes the crime more serious in terms of gravity before the law, since the offender acts solely and exclusively for reasons of hatred, without the possibility of other mitigating factors. However, its criminalization requires the investigation work of the corresponding law enforcement agencies.

In May, 17 cases of femicide were reported in the country, according to the Utopix Femicide Monitor on its website. However, the same source registered 21 such crimes in March 2020, when the quarantine began in Venezuela because of the Covid 19 pandemic.

In October 2020, the Venezuelan justice system prosecuted for aggravated femicide. The accused was charged with the attempted murder of a retired colonel of the National Armed Forces. The accused was placed at the order of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

In 2014, when femicide was included as a crime, the Scientific, Criminal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps (Cicpc) reported around 3,000 cases of sexual violence in the year.

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