Meet this brutally violent gang that everyone encounters sometime in their lives

November 18, 2014

Watch out it could be your best friend, your boss, your neighbor, even your brother. El Salvador has faced many hard decades in the last 50 years, ridden by civil war, foreign exploitation and racial genocide. Today one of the largest threats to its citizens is the major gang problem, and the countries in ability to put an end to this constant threat. Women as one can imagine do not fare so well in such an environment.

According to Non-governmental organization Salvadoran Women for Peace (Organizacion de Mujeres Salvadoreñas por la Paz – ORMUSA), which tracks violence against women, there were a record 628 such killings in 2011, higher than any year since the organization began to track the issue in 1999. In 2012 there were 320 homicides involving women, down from 2011 628. While the numbers may have dropped significantly when compared to previous years there is still an alarming about of “femicide” related crime for such a small country. “Femicide” being the coined term used by Human rights organizations in Latin America to refer to the murder of women who are killed because of their gender.

Many times the victims know the culprits and perhaps this is the saddest part, they are people they think they can trust, a friend, a neighbor, a boyfriend, even a relative. Perhaps even more shocking is the nature of the crimes, women are often raped and then brutally murdered. Some speculate that this is directly due to gang activity and El Salvador’s geographical location, which places it directly in the middle of most drug traffic going into the United States.

It comes to no surprise that a country with such a violent nature is among one of the countries with the highest murder rates in the world, El Salvador with nearly 70 per 100,000 people. While sexualized killings make up a small portion of the violent deaths, in 2010 for example 580 out of 4,000 involved some sort of “femicide”. Like in most countries this crime is in high occurrence during the holidays and among the largest concentration of population. San Salvador makes up for nearly 40% of all domestic crime, however one has to take into consideration that it solely has the highest reporting of such crimes. San Salvador being the capital of El Salvador has resources available to it that are not accessible in more rural areas of the country and as a result we see far fewer reports from such areas.

I remember the last time I visited El Salvador was nowhere near as dangerous as it is today, even though was pretty young and naïve I felt like I was in was at times that my safety was in some way threatened. I remember one occasion specifically when I was out with one of my older female cousins that she was very worried about our safety. It was broad daylight I thought to myself what could happen. We waited for a group of friends she had to walk us home, on our way home we witnessed a smaller group across the field being harassed. Had it just been the two of us it would have been a much different situation.  I haven’t been back since the age of 13, in part because of the danger of being an American and standing out among the locals.

While all people that commit domestic violence are not part of a gang and not all people in a gang commit domestic violence. The reality is that they may all be part of the same gang that is destroying countries all over the world. While Domestic Violence is by no means a new phenomena it is something that is impacting us on a much greater scale then ever before.