Information on the assistance available to women who are victims of domestic violence [HND14339.E]

In addition to the attached documents which provide general information on the situation of women in Honduras, the information that follows was provided by a lawyer at the Visitación Padilla Women's Peace Committee in Honduras (14 June 1993). The organization is a source suggested to the DIRB by the Honduras Human Rights Commission (CODEH), which indicated that Visitación Padilla is the organization best acquainted with the problem of domestic violence in Honduras. The organization's lawyer suggested two other organizations in Honduras for detailed statistical information on the subject. These organizations, however, could not be reached in time to meet the deadline of your request, but the DIRB can attempt to obtain information from them upon further request.

According to the lawyer at Visitación Padilla, the government is currently unable to provide adequate protection or assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence. Although a decree calling for the establishment of family assistance bureaus ("Consejerías de Familia") was promulgated on 9 June 1993, the legislation is essentially an outline and statement of intentions that requires further regulation and definition. Therefore, the bureaus are not expected to provide any effective legal or psychological assistance to victims of family violence within the current year, and they will only be in place if the next government to take office after the elections scheduled for November 1993 follows up on the initiative. Various women's organizations have prepared a package of proposed legal reforms to improve the situation of women and the legal protection available to them. These proposals will be presented to the government on 15 June 1993.

There are, however, some government institutions that provide assistance to abused minors. Their services, however, are overwhelmed by demand and are often unable to provide adequate legal, psychological and physical protection to the victims.

According to the source, police forces do not give adequate attention to complaints of domestic violence and although a female branch of the police exists, its members are not trained nor assigned to work on cases of domestic violence. Abused women often resort to relatives for assistance, although this is often no guarantee of protection and they are easily located by the abusive spouse or relative.

Most of the assistance currently available to female victims of domestic violence is provided by non-government organizations. Visitación Padilla, for example, provides legal, psychological and, in some cases, economic assistance, and the organization established in late 1992 a small shelter in the capital where abused women can find temporary refuge. This and other organizations, however, are overwhelmed by demand and cannot provide assistance to the many cases for which they are approached. At present, an attempt is being make legal and psychological assistance available to abused women in San Pedro Sula, Honduras' second largest city.

The legal reforms to be proposed by the women's organizations include the criminalization of various forms of domestic abuse which are currently not considered a crime. Cases in which these legal deficiencies become apparent are psychological abuse and threats of injury. Although the Penal Code establishes penalties for crimes against mental health, these have not been enforceable for cases of domestic psychological abuse. Reforms are also being sought for cases of domestic sexual abuse, including incest, which occurs often and receives at most--if successfully prosecuted--a penalty that is viewed by women's organizations as too lenient. Spousal rape is not considered a crime. The source added that abortion is illegal in Honduras, even in cases for which it is medically advised and for cases of rape and incest.

Additional and/or corroborating information could not be found among the sources currently available to the DIRB.


Visitación Padilla Women's Peace Committee, Tegucigalpa. 14 June 1993. Telephone Interview with Lawyer.


Barry, Tom and Ken Norsworthy. Inside Honduras. Albuquerque: The Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Centre, pp. 123-126.

CODEH: Boletín del Comité Para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras [Tegucigalpa]. January 1992. Pp. 2-11.

Shreir, Sally, ed. 1988. Women's Movements of the World: An International Directory and Reference Guide. London: Longman UK Ltd., p. 120.