Yet another woman fell victim to a femicide in Colombia Monday night after being taken hostage and killed by her former partner in a busy shopping center in the north of Bogota.
The victim, 40-year-old Claudia Johana Rodriguez, was taken hostage by her former partner around 7:00 p.m. local time in Bogota’s Santa Fe Mall in full view of other shoppers. The attacker, who was identified as 42-year-old Julio Alberto Reyes, took Rodríguez hostage with a firearm in an optometrist franchise where she worked and also threatened other nearby shoppers.
Police had entered and evacuated the shopping mall as a helicopter flew overhead and tried to negotiate with Reyes, but the operation was to no avail as he shot Rodríguez in the stomach, leaving her to bleed to death. Reyes was shot in the head and the stomach by police and later died from his wounds after being rushed to hospital.
Local Colombian media reported that the couple had separated a month ago after Rodriguez received threats of violence from Reyes. Rodriguez’s sister told local radio that the victim had reported Reyes for threatening to attacker her, but that the two still kept in contact.
Head of Bogota’s Metropolitan Police, General Hoover Penilla, said that Reyes has a history of violence and in 2006 was sent to prison for murder, but was later released because of mental instability.
Femicides in Colombia and across Latin America continue to happen at alarming rates and are commonly met with impunity and less than serious efforts for prevention.
Last month, Rafael Uribe Noguera, a wealthy Bogota architect, was sentenced to 51 years and eight months in prison and fined for raping and killing a 7-year-old Indigenous girl, Yuliana Andrea Sambon.
In Argentina, 21-year-old anti-femicide activist Micaela Garcia was found dead with signs of strangling Saturday after she had been missing for a week.
Last week, 18-year-old Mexican Jennifer Antonio Carillo died in intensive care after her husband is suspected to have burned 70 percent of her body. While Edgardo Romero Alvarez claims that his wife had burnt herself, he remains on the run.
Some of the figures around femicide and gender violence across Latin America are equally as shocking as the individual cases that continue to shake the region. In Colombia, six women are abused by an intimate partner every hour, one woman suffers sexual violence every 30 minutes, and one woman is a victim of femicide at the hands of a current or former partner every three days, according to official statistics.
According to Argentina’s women's rights group, Casa del Encuentro, since they have been monitoring femicides in 2008, almost 3,000 women have been killed in the country. Only one man has been sentenced for femicide charges since Argentina added femicide to its criminal code in 2012.
In Mexico, between 2013 and 2015, there was an average of three femicides per week. Of the 25 nations with the highest rate of violence against women, 14 are in Latin America. According to the United Nations, 98 percent of femicides go unprosecuted in the region.
In response, hundreds of thousands of women across the region have taken to the streets in protests against femicides, wider gender violence and some of the structural forces that perpetuate and facilitate these crimes and abuses.