Femicide is a State Issue: Bolivia Takes Steps Towards Justice

A commission formed by seven women has begun the work to oversee rape and femicide cases in which convicted criminals were released by the judicial system with the objective of identifying irregularities and sanctioning those responsible.

The state response, instructed by President Luis Arce, follows the tragic cases of femicide committed by convicted serial rapist and murderer Richard Choque, which caused outrage throughout the country and sparked protests outside the murderer’s El Alto home, as well as a march from El Alto to La Paz to demand justice. Choque, a confessed serial violator, had been wrongly released at the time that he murdered his latest teenage victim.

Minister of the Presidency, Maria Nela Prada, explained that the formation of the commission was determined with the participation of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial bodies in addition to other institutions.

“It is the first time in the history of our country that a space of this nature has been created (…) dedicated to the review of the processes with convictions for crimes of rape and femicide in which the accused have been released,” said the Minister.

“The objective of this commission, when reviewing the cases of feminicide and rape with sentence, is to give quick and concrete results to the Bolivian population that at this moment feels that indignation, that at this moment feels that pain, that impotence. We are going to give results regarding this situation that challenges all the organs of the State, that challenges the whole society”, she indicated.

Director of the Coordinadora de la Mujer, Tania Sánchez, spoke to Bolivia TV on the issues that persist within the justice system: “The data shows us that there is a problem when it comes to passing sentences, carrying out investigations and responding to cases of femicide and sexist violence.”

The commission, which held its first meeting on Friday, is presided by Minister of the Presidency, María Nela Prada, and women with leading roles in the Gender Committee of the Judiciary, the Vice Ministry of Equal Opportunities, the Vice Ministry of Communication, the Plurinational Service for Women and Depatriarchalization, the Ombudsman, as well as a Senator.

The heads of additional state institutions from all branches of government will also conform the commission which is required to produce results in 120 days.

Justice for victims of femicide and violence against women must go far beyond the criminal justice system. The MAS government says its committed to “the strengthening of depatriarchalizing socio-educational processes” in Bolivia.

With the school year just beginning, the Arce administration is putting more emphasis on “depatriarchalizing education”, treating education as fundamental to transforming society and guaranteeing women a life free of violence.

By Kawsachun News with information from Agencia Boliviana de Información