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Teresa Munoz, mother of murdered Miss Honduras World, Maria Jose Alvarado, shows her daughter's crown at her house in Santa Barbara, 200 km northwest of Tegucigalpa on November 24, 2014. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)


As femicide rates spike, mother of murdered beauty queen says ‘women aren’t worth anything’ in Honduras

By WITW Staff on May 4, 2017

On November 13, 2014, 19-year-old María José Alvarado and her 23-year-old sister, Sofia Trinidad, disappeared after a party at the home of Trinidad’s boyfriend Plutarco Ruiz. After a week-long manhunt, their bodies were found buried in a riverbank in Santa Barbara, Honduras. According to authorities, Ruiz, then 32, was the likely perpetrator. They said he shot Trinidad during a jealous argument and then murdered her sister to conceal the crime. María José had recently won the Miss Honduras beauty pageant, and was scheduled to make her first-ever plane ride to the Miss World competition in London just a few days after her disappearance. Speaking with Nightline’s JuJu Chang, the mother of the two victims, Teresa Muñoz, said that the police would not even have investigated the murders were it not for her daughter’s fame.

“He shot her 12 times in the back,” said Muñoz. “Because of his machismo that this happened. Here in Honduras, women aren’t worth anything.”

In Honduras, a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world outside a war zone, gender-motivated violence has been running rampant. One woman is murdered every 16 hours in Honduras, according to Honduras’ Center for Women’s Rights. According to the U.N., more women in Honduras are subject to “femicide” — the murder of a woman because of her gender — than anywhere else in the world. Police have done little to help the plight of the country’s women. In 2014, the U.N. reported, 95 percent of sexual violence and femicide cases in Honduras were never investigated at all.

As part of what the U.N. calls Honduras’ “invisible refugee crisis,” the number of asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala has increased fivefold since 2008. According to U.S. government statistics, 82 percent of female Honduran asylum seekers had “credible fear of persecution or violence.” Despite the crisis, the Trump administration has ordered the U.S. to cut the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. in half — and Honduran women fleeing violence are no exception.

Honduran activist Neesa Medina said that the violence is part and parcel of a “machismo” gang culture running rampant.

“Men can do anything they want to women in Honduras,” said Medina. Restraining orders and the like meant little, she added, when gang members and others can murder with seeming impunity.

“How powerful is a bullet? Is a bullet more powerful than a piece of paper?” she asked. “We’re talking about women who have three, four, or five kids. So if you cannot assure her and her family to be safe, and the best you can do … is to show her a piece of paper, that’s almost like signing her death sentence right there.”

Watch the Nightline report below.

Read the full story at ABC News.


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