Approximately 45 percent of the murdered women were under the age of 30, and of those, 34 percent were under the age of 18.According to a report from the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California–Hastings Law School, not only are Central America's femicides "widespread, but they are carried out with horrific brutality....As femicide rates have risen over the past decade, so has the number of young women and girls entering gang life.That fact can be attributed, in part, to the extraordinary growth of the gangs themselves, but it also reflects a survival instinct: Girls are increasingly joining gangs in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.
It was the country's second-highest femicide rate in 15 years (2011 was the highest).The sounds of traffic, birds trilling, and the music of street vendors carried over the wall rimmed with razor wire."I'm in for extortion," she told me, licking a bright blue ice cream cone.She was sentenced to 10 years at the Centro de Inserción Social Femenino, a Salvadoran prison for girls.She'd fallen in with a crowd of low-level gangsters in her hometown."We became really good friends, a great friendship."The problem is that, in Santa Tecla, they have cameras." She shrugged. We were on the MS-13 side of the prison—all Salvadoran prisons are divided to keep rival gangs apart.Today was visitor's day, and the young inmates, having been charged with such crimes as robbery, extortion, prostitution, drug trafficking, and murder, were all dolled up, hoping someone on their list would show up. A guard offered a ball to a group of inmates, and a few girls (what else was there to do?Young women and girls can more easily slip by as they mule drugs or pick up bi-weekly extortion payments.Girls are assets to the gangs—inconspicuous foot soldiers, and excellent cannon fodder.Disclaimer: The accuracy and completeness of the information contained in the maps and illustrations on this website cannot be guaranteed; such information does not constitute any obligation on the part of the Swiss Confederation.Valentina, a chubby 17-year-old wearing hot-pink spandex shorts, pink Converse, pigtails, and heavy eyeliner, sat on a cement bench in the back of a courtyard, hunched over a cell phone she had half-concealed between her knees.