An anti-femicide demonstration in Guatemala

Guatemala has registered 512 cases of femicide so far in 2012, putting it on course for a 10 percent decline from last year, though the country is still one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.

According to Guatemala's presidential commission against femicide, 512 women were killed between January 1 and October 16 of this year. The largest concentration of these cases, Prensa Libre reported, was in the province of Guatemala, where the country's capital and largest city is located. Some 204 women were murdered in this province alone.

The figure breaks down to an average of around 54 murders of women per month, which puts the country on track to finish the year with around 647 cases of femicide. This would amount to a 10 percent drop from the number of femicides registered in 2011, which saw 711 cases.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the drop in femicides is a positive development, the government has not yet achieved its goal of reducing femicides by 25 percent this year, which was announced in January with the creation of a special police task force charged with investigating the issue.

Guatemala has seen a spike in the murder of women in the past decade, and its femicide rate is the third highest in the world. As InSight Crime has noted, some of this violence is linked to Central America's increasing importance in the regional drug trade. As transnational criminal organizations deepen their activities in Guatemala, women are caught in the crossfire, and can become collateral damage in conflicts between rival criminal groups. 

Guatemala attempted to address the issue in 2008 with the passage of a law that specifically recognizes femicide as a crime and mandates long sentences for those convicted. Despite the legislation, experts say law enforcement has so far fallen short on seriously investigating reports of femicide in the country, with an estimated 98 percent of femicide cases going unsolved.