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Honduras: One of the Most Dangerous Places to Be a Woman

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This year, 2013, has been life changing. My Mum always taught me that as women we need to fight for our rights and I have personally had to argue and battle against injustices big and small on an obscenely regular basis.

It is rare that a day goes by without a sideways comment, an article in the press, or a conversation that doesn't shake the feminist in me. I'm sure that's why Everyday Sexism Project (100,000 plus followers on Twitter) has become an online sensation and made champions out of every woman and girl who knows what it feels like to be treated "like a girl".

But my everyday sexism, my healthy angry passion for equality, was shaken up beyond belief when a few months ago I visited Honduras. It's one of the most dangerous places (that's not in the midst of war) to be a woman.

The Central American country has crime figures that scare anyone who may want to live a normal life of sleep, work, do a spot of food shopping, or enjoy a coffee with a friend. Pretty much every single woman I met was afraid just getting on a bus or walking in the street. Many were frightened 24/7 in their own homes.

I met Maribel, who was making beautiful warm tortillas in her own kitchen when her husband came home drunk and cut her hands off with a machete. This was not the first time he had been violent and, since he's not been charged for his crime, Maribel fears it won't be the last.

Her bravery to carry on and build up a tortilla business despite everything is astounding. She works with a national network of campaigners who are trying to change the endemic impunity that can be seen at every level of the justice system - a lack of justice which means only the teeniest tiniest fraction of the violence against women cases ever see a sniff of justice.

I lay flowers at Milagros's grave who would be 22 years old now if her ex partner hadn't allegedly killed her with a rock in a local park. I met Milagros's family who have been calling for justice for two years but the man they suspect of murder, still lives round the corner.

And while the men go unpunished, the murder of women is on the increase in Honduras. Every year the statistics get worse but every year the women's movement gets more active.

I met young campaigner Fanny who works for Oxfam running the social media for the national campaign against femicide (the murder of women) who has pushed and persuaded and indefatigably fought for justice since her sister was raped and killed two years ago.

She's part of a nationwide movement, which has convinced judges to set up special women's offices within local government and the judiciary to change the sentence for the murder of women. There are small groups of women in remote hillside villages holding meetings, singing songs and raising awareness about violence and how to stop it.

As Maritza Oxfam's gender expert in Honduras said to me:

"Until very recently, we have been telling as many people as possible that a woman is killed every 15 hours in Honduras. Working with an amazing network of campaigners, we want everyone to know that there has to be better protection and justice for women. But the situation is getting worse all the time - after new government figures have been released, a woman is now murdered every 13 hours. We have to reverse this tragic trend by investigating crimes properly and making sure women are not at risk of violence every hour of the day."

The final figures from women murdered this year in Honduras are yet to come in but it is looking likely to be the worst yet with an 8% increase in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period last year.

I look back on this year grateful to have met so many inspiring women who are risking their lives to change things, enraged by the violence that the UN says affects one in three women in their lifetime, and more convinced than ever that as feminists we can shake sense into the unjust systems that allow violence to continue unabated.

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