Tegucigalpa – In Honduras, it is “dangerous to just be a woman”, says Jinna Rosales, a feminist activist and director of human rights organisation Accion Joven Honduras (Youth Action Honduras).
Honduras has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in Latin America. A woman in the country raped every three hours. And for those who report the assault, they’re only “revictimised”, advocates say.
“Rapes in Honduras are systematic,” says Julissa Rivas, a member of feminist organization Yo No Quiero Ser Violada (I Don’t Want to Be Raped). “Every time a woman is raped, they say, ‘Where was she? How was she dressed? What time was it? What was she doing?’ They revictimise her.”
Yo No Quiero Ser Violada’s founding followed the 2018 brutal murder of a 27-year-old medical student who was shot dead when she refused to cooperate with armed assailants who boarded a bus and tried to sexually abuse her and a friend.
Since then, the group and other advocates have worked to raise awareness about the high rates of sexual violence in Honduras, and call for the adoption of a national protocol for victims and survivors of sexual violence.
The country does not currently have a protocol for healthcare professionals who attend to survivors of sexual assault, leading to incomplete care and confusion over what services doctors can legally provide. Some doctors may only run tests for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy without providing preventive medication. In other cases, doctors refuse to treat patients because they incorrectly believe that the woman must file a police report against her aggressor before they can offer her medical care.
“Imagine what kind of attention these women are getting?” says Rivas. “Right now, they just give them some tests. Given the circumstances in the country and the high rate of teen pregnancy, it’s unimaginable [that there is no protocol].”