Law (in)Effectiveness in Women’s Lives: Family-First Ideologies, anti-Abortion, and Violence against Women Laws in El Salvador

Leydy Diossa-Jimenez, University of California, Los Angeles
Cecilia Menjivar, University of California, Los Angeles

El Salvador’s Violence Against Women laws and anti-abortion law present optimal empirical ground to examine the intersection of familyism ideologies and laws that undermine women’s rights and lives, and the state’s central place at this confluence, which is relevant beyond this case. Through close analysis of laws, legal documents, reports, and newspaper accounts, we juxtapose these two ostensibly unrelated laws that have followed widely different applications within the same socio-legal context, same legal reasoning, and the same judicial structure to identify a common thread: the control of women’s bodies and devaluation of women’s lives. We center the state, as it interacts and responds to pressures from the international community and domestic political pressures to create these laws, which are aligned (anti-abortion) or misaligned (VAW) with predominant gender ideologies to produce divergent implementation. Both, however, prioritize family at the expense of women’s rights and lives, especially poor and socially disadvantaged women.

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 Presented in Session 185. Sex, Gender and Power