For the first time since instituting its femicide law three years ago, Colombia has invoked it in the prosecution of the murder of a transgender woman.
The law — known also as the “Ley Rosa Elvira Cely,” named for a woman who was brutally killed and raped in 2012 — defines the killing of a woman for how she expresses her gender identity or sexual orientation a femicide. The law, passed in 2015, aims to combat the country’s high levels of violence against women and girls by imposing tougher punishments on their killers, making femicide punishable by a prison sentence of 20 to 50 years.
Davinson Stiven Erazo Sánchez, 23, was sentenced in early December to 20 years in a psychiatric center for “aggravated femicide”— a year after he fatally shot Anyela Ramos Claros, a transgender woman who used to run her own beauty salon.
Although the court referred to Claros by the name she was assigned at birth, Luis Ángel Ramos Claros, it recognized her as a woman, citing not only her appearance but also her female identity, which was recognized by her friends and family, the New York Times reports.
In a statement provided to Bogota LGBT rights group Colombia Diversa, lawyers representing Claros’s family said they were “happy with the way in which the case was addressed by the court in Garzón, particularly with regard to the recognition of Anyela as a woman.”
Claros is one of at least 35 trans women murdered in Colombia in the past year, NBC reports.
According to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, 10 of the 25 nations with the highest recorded rates of femicides are in Latin America with another four in the region.
In September, the European Union and the United Nations started a program to fight feminicide in Latin America.