Guatemalan President Otto Perez announced the creation of a new task force to combat the country’s high rate of murders of women.

The new unit against “femicide” will be coordinated by former prosecutor Mirna Carrera, and will aim to reduce the number of femicides by 25 per cent this year, reported Univision.

In 2011, Guatemala saw roughly 700 women killed, making it the second most dangerous country in Latin America for women.

Authorities also announced the creation of a separate force to counter kidnappings in Guatemala. This brings the total number of special task forces to five since Perez was inaugurated on January 14, with others created to combat extortion, vehicle theft and “sicarios,” or assasins.

InSight Crime Analysis

Perez faces a huge battle in reducing Guatemala’s femicide rates. Since 2000 there have been 5,000 cases of femicide in the country. Guatemala passed a law in 2008 that formally recognizes femicide as a crime within its own right, covering both physical and psychological elements of abuse to women. However, this has done little to reduce impunity rates, with a reported 98 per cent of criminals in femicide cases walking free.

One problem the special task force may have to consider is the high rate of femicides which result from domestic violence, which frequently receives fewer attention and resources compared to other types of crimes. For example, a report by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC) showed that between January and August 2008, 61 per cent of femicides were the end result of domestic violence.