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The level of violence rises and falls — it’s tempered when truces between the maras and the government are brokered and soars again after government crackdowns. But gang members are not the only ones responsible for the violence against women.

In contrast, the murder rate among women has remained steady, according to the Observatory of Violence Against Women. Her brothers didn’t want to join the gang, so they were killed in retaliation. The men who rape them are also their husbands, fathers, uncles, acquaintances, neighbors.

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They don’t want their sons and daughters to grow up in a society that accepts, perpetuates and often justifies violence against them. Méndez, “Where does this machismo and misogyny come from? Several of them responded, with the kind of answer a foreigner never wants to hear: “That’s the way we are.”If society dismisses these patriarchal attitudes or excuses them as normal, programs by the public sector or civil society organizations geared toward changing the way women are treated will have little impact.

I understood this after spending a morning at the office of Dr. Abortion in El Salvador is illegal in all circumstances, even in cases of rape.

Some women who have had abortions — or like 19-year-old Evelyn Hernández, who gave birth outside of the hospital and whose baby didn’t survive — have been convicted of aggravated homicide.

Naïvely, I called the Institute of Legal Medicine and told them what had happened.

I was told not to get involved, as I could be put behind bars.”What kind of society threatens those who try to take care of the physical and mental health of women?

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