Pope Francis has denounced femicide and other gender-based crimes that have turned Latin America into the most violent place on earth for women.
According to the United Nations, half of the 25 countries with the largest number of murders of women are in Latin America.
Speaking at a Mass in the northern city of Trujillo, the Pope, 81, described the violence as “a plague” that needed to be combated across the region.
“There are so many cases of violence that stay silenced behind so many walls,” the Pope told the crowd.
He called for law makers to protect women and for a new culturem that “rejects every type of violence”. His remarks came the same day huge crowds gathered and marched in various locations across the globe in support of female empowerment.
Pope Francis has described women, mothers and grandmothers as the guiding force for families.
In Argentina, the Pope’s homeland, there were at least 254 murders of women in 2016 that authorities believe are gender-related. This sparked the online campaign #NotOneMore.
Even though more and more countries in the region are adopting protective policies for women, female homicides are rising in Latin America. Two in every five such homicides are the result of domestic violence, according to a November 2017 report from UN Women and the UN Development Program that called the phenomenon a “global pandemic”.