The Law for the Protection of Victims of Femicide: Bolivia

On Monday 31 January, a massive women’s march against sexist violence and corruption in the justice system took place from the Bolivian area of El Alto, through the city of La Paz and ended in front of the departmental court of justice in La Paz, to the cry of “Judges, prosecutors the same filth”.  The march was led by dozens of relatives of victims of femicide and victims of male violence. It was a historic march because it was attended by Aymara women who live from day to day in their businesses and had to stop working to march. (The Aymara or Aimara people are an indigenous people in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America.)

The march took place in a context of widespread repudiation of the release of Richard Choque Flores, 32, a femicide of at least two women, Iris Villca, 15, and Lucy Ramírez, 17, whose bodies were found buried in his house in El Alto.

The law punishing crooked administrators of justice comes just months after large scale feminist protests broke out in January, when the serial rapist and murderer Richard Choque, whose 30-year prison sentence was reduced to a house arrest by a now-apprehended judge, went on with his crimes.

The demonstrations demanded government action against the corrupt judicial systems that fail to protect victims and persecute these criminals. The judge who heard Choque’s case, Rafael Alcón, now faces charges of malfeasance and breach of duties, as are 14 other judges facing trials for similar reasons.

The Bolivian government enacted a law to protect victims of femicides, infanticides, and rape of children and adolescents, given the cases in the country in which convicted rapists and murderers have been released. Bolivian President Luis Arce criticized the patriarchal system that sustains gender-based violence and said that the law "establishes mechanisms to protect the rights of the victims."

According to the head of state, the law is intended to counteract acts of prevarication and the formation of consortiums that seek to benefit rapists or femicides.  

The penalties for prevarication in cases of femicide and infanticide are increased to up to 20 years in prison. The Bolivian Ministry of Justice said that criminal proceedings would be initiated for delay and revictimization would not be allowed.

President Luis Arce promulgated Law 179/2021 for the Protection of victims of femicide, infanticide and rape of infants, girls, boys or adolescents in the Casa Grande del Pueblo.

This year was declared the Year of the Cultural Revolution for De-patriarchization in Bolivia, seeking to establish structural solutions to curb the persistent cases of violence against women in the country.

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