American University
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Criminalization of femicide in Mexico and Colombia: A comparative analysis of legislative and symbolic approaches

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:16 authored by Lucas Martinez-Villalba

The following dissertation analyses the legislative process that led to the criminalization of femicide in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Colombia, as a tool to address the situation of violence, discrimination, and oppression against women. Ten years after the introduction of femicide as a standalone crime in Mexico and seven years after its introduction in Colombia, there is little perceivable change in the reduction of violence against women rates that these criminal reforms were set to resolve. Moreover, the judicial apparatus has achieved an almost intangible transformation in the adoption of gender perspective techniques and practices in criminal procedure. In order to fully comprehend the dimensions of the femicide criminal reform effort, this dissertation begins by revisiting the feminist theory that progressively set the stage for the discussion of violence against women as a human rights issue. It then describes the legislative process in both countries that led to the criminalization of femicide and interprets the key elements in these reforms from criminal law theory. This dissertation then provides the statistical findings by States and independent organizations that study how the introduction of femicide has impacted violence against women rates. In addition, the criminalization of femicide in both Mexico and Colombia serves a symbolic purpose designed to raise awareness of the complexity and urgency of gender-based violence. Thus, the purpose behind the law is not limited to deterring the crime, but instead aims to highlight the broader discrimination against and subordination of women within society. Therefore, this dissertation also evaluates whether and how the criminalization of femicide has adequately addressed those issues by looking at: the policies enacted by the State, the changes made in its institutions, and the adoption of a gender perspective agenda; and sets forth recommendations for a comprehensive approach on the issue of violence, discrimination, and oppression of women.





Degree Awarded: S.J.D. Washington College of Law. American University