Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Caroline Beer

Second Advisor

Sarah Osten

Third Advisor

Teresa Mares


violence against women (VAW), El Salvador, civil war, female homicide, gender-based violence (GBV), gangs


From 2007-2012, El Salvador had the highest average female homicide rate in the world. While much of the spotlight has been on male gang-related homicides, this paper shifts the focus to the alarming violence that women in El Salvador experience. What explains the skyrocketing female homicide rate in El Salvador over the past 10-15 years? To answer and more deeply engage with this contemporary research question, I unearth the historical roots and causal factors. First, I explore the long-term effects of the civil war (1980-1992), the proliferation of organized crime and gangs, and women’s access to resources in El Salvador as potential contributors toward heightened amounts of violence against women (VAW). Second, I analyze the Salvadoran government’s response to this VAW epidemic, focusing on legislation and the degree to which it has been effective in mitigating VAW levels. Lastly, I highlight how autonomous women’s organizations in El Salvador hold the government accountable by demanding policies that protect women from VAW and promote women’s safety in society. I find that providing women with access to more resources—educational and organizational—may be a key way to advance the status of women within El Salvador.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.