El Salvador is ranked 10th out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 8th out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.
The 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.674, placing it 105th place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.487. El Salvador's Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6567, placing it 84th place (out of a total of 135 countries).
The Family Code in El Salvador does not discriminate against women. The law authorises marriage from the age of 14 if both the boy and girl have reached puberty, if the girl is pregnant or the couple has had a child. Early marriage rates appear to be increasing slightly in recent years; according to a 2004 United Nations (UN report), in 2000, 16 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed; that number rose to 17 percent in 2007.
There is no evidence to indicate that polygamy is practised in El Salvador.
Parental authority is exercised jointly by both parents. The Family Code explicitly states that spouses have equal rights and duties in regard to the care of children, and that neither spouse can prevent the other from receiving education or embarking on a legal process. It is unclear what rights women have in divorce, or what grounds are used to decide on custody arrangements for children following divorce. It is also unclear whether or not Salvadorean women can pass Salvadorean citizenship onto their children.
Women have the same inheritance rights as men; in fact, inheriting is the main means by which women become landowners.
 Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (2004), p. 6.  United Nations (UN) (2004), p. 110; UN (2008)  Article 211 of the Family Code in CEDAW (2001), p. 34.  CEDAW (2008a), pp.6-7  JICA (2005), p. 28.
Salvadorean law contains strong protections for women against domestic violence, but violence against women remains a serious problem. According to the US Department of State’s 2010 human rights report, a comprehensive new law targeting all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination against women was passed in November 2010 by the National Assembly. This strengthens penalties for existing crimes and defines new ones not previously penalized, and should take effect in November 2011.
Rape is a criminal offence in El Salvador. Punishments under the current law range from 6 to 20 years imprisonment, depending on the age of the victim and the nature of the attack. The law does not specifically criminalise spousal rape, but it can be prosecuted if the actions meet the definition of rape included in the penal code, according to the US Department of State’s 2010 human rights report. The law provides for compulsory therapy for the perpetrators of sex-related crimes. The US Department of State reports that the law is not effectively enforced.
Under the Domestic Violence Act (1996), domestic violence is defined to include psychological, physical, and sexual violence, and violence against property. Article 200 of the Penal Code stipulates that domestic violence should be punished by one to three years in prison. The US Department of State reports that the law is not effectively enforced.
Sexual harassment is a criminal offence in El Salvador, with prison sentences of 3 – 5 years.
Under reporting of rape cases remains significant, and is due to a number of societal and cultural pressures, including fears of reprisal, publicity, as well as ineffective and unsupportive responses by the authorities. Less then 10 percent of reported cases in 2008 resulted in a conviction. To this end the Salvadorean Institute for the Development of Women now trains police cadets on rape prevention and other human rights issues.
In 2004 the government created a national action plan to tackle domestic violence, but the practice is still seen as socially acceptable by a large proportion of the population and few victims bring complaints. According to the US Department of State, of nearly six thousand complaints reported in 2007, twelve hundred were investigated; just 12 resulted in jury trials. In 2010, 551 were reported killed as a result of domestic violence.
El Salvador, along with other countries in Central America, has come to be associated with the phenomenon of ‘femicide’ – the murder of women because they are women. According to an article published in Gender & Development journal in 2007 looking at the phenomenon across the region, femicidesrepresent the ultimate form of gender-based violence, ‘that is intrinsically linked to deeply entrenched gender inequality and discrimination, economic disempowerment, and aggressive or machismo masculinity.’ The killings are typified by extreme brutality and violence, and by the failure of police to investigate, and have been linked to the high levels of gang-related crime in El Salvador. According to local NGO Salvadoran Women for Peace (Organizacion de Mujeres Salvadoreñas por la Paz - ORMUSA), 160 femicides were committed in El Salvador in the first three months of 2011.
There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised in El Salvador.
There are no grounds on which abortion can be performed legally in El Salvador; this includes cases in which the woman’s life is in danger. In 2008, the CEDAW committee noted that clandestine abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality in El Salvador.
Women do not face any legal restrictions in regard to using contraception and accessing information about family planning, and there is currently a national programme in place to increase contraceptive access and usage and improve reproductive and sexual health. In 2003, the UN found that 67.3 percent of women married or in union aged 15-49 were currently using contraception, and that 61 percent were currently using a modern method.
 US Department of State (2011)  US Department of State (2011)  US Department of State (2011)  US Department of State (2011)  Article 61A of the Penal Code in CEDAW (2007), p. 12  US Department of State (2011)  CEDAW (2007), p.17  Articles 61A and 200 of the Penal Code in CEDAW (2007), pp. 12-13.  US Department of State (2011)  CEDAW (2007), p.13  US Department of State (2010).  CEDAW (2007), p. 7.  US Department of State (2010)  US Department of State (2011)  Prieto-Carrón, Thomson and Macdonald (2007), p.25  Prieto-Carrón, Thomson and Macdonald (2007), p.26  Stone (2011)  Stone (2011)  UN (2011)  CEDAW (2008), p.35  CEDAW (2007), pp. 20-21.  United Nations (2007)
Gender-disaggregated data on under-five mortality rates, malnutrition, and childhood vaccination were unavailable.
Primary and secondary school enrolment rates are slightly higher for girls than for boys, according to UNICEF. This would not indicate son preference in regard to access to education.
The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.93.
There is no evidence to suggest that El Salvador is a country of concern in relation to missing women.
The government in El Salvador has made a significant contribution to improving the financial situation of women. Inequalities remain in relation to access to land in El Salvador, even though the situation of women improved significantly thanks to land reform in the 1980s and to the land transfer programme implemented as part of the 1992 peace agreement that ended a 12-year civil war. However, the land transfer programme benefited women in only about one-third of cases. More recently, the government has promoted a land access programme that appeared to benefit more women than men between 2003 and 2005. Most women who are involved in agricultural activities (a number that has declined from 10.7 to 5.6 percent) and head their families now own the land on which they work.
There is no reported legal discrimination against women in regard to access to property other than land.
Legally, women have equal rights in obtaining access to bank loans, but they face prejudice from lenders, who continue to believe that women are unsuited to dealing with economic and financial matters. The government has launched several programmes to tackle this de facto discrimination and improve women’s access to loans, particularly in rural areas.
There are no legal restrictions on women’s access to public space in El Salvador. The Family Code explicitly states that married couples must jointly decide upon their place of residence.
Freedom of speech, assembly and association are generally respected in El Salvador. There appear to be a large number of women’s rights organisations active in the country.
Women and men appear to have the same legal rights to vote and stand for election in El Salvador. Women continue to be underrepresented politically, although the number of female members in the legislature has slowly increased over time. Most of El Salvador’s efforts to promote women’s political participation are taking place at the municipal level, and according to the 2007 report to the CEDAW committee, this has resulted in an increase in women holding posts at this level. Following elections in January 2009, sixteen of the eighty-four seats in the Legislative Assembly, or 19 percent, are held by women.
Women in El Salvador are entitled to twelve weeks of paid maternity leave, although only six weeks are compulsory. Benefits are paid at seventy-five percent of their wage by a national social security system if the woman is insured. Otherwise, the employer pays the benefit. Employers are prohibited from terminating the employment of a pregnant woman unless the reason predates the pregnancy, and even then they must wait until the end of a woman’s maternity leave. It is illegal for businesses to require female employees to take pregnancy tests, but there are reports that some businesses did so regardless, and also fired pregnant workers. In its concluding observations on El Salvador’s 2007 report, the CEDAW committee noted its on going concern relating to the systematic denial of women’s labour rights in the maquiladora industries, including lack of access to social security (including maternity) benefits, poor working conditions, and exposure to violence and sexual harassment.
 Article 37 of the Family Code; CEDAW (2002), p. 29.  Freedom House (2010)  CEDAW (2007), pp. 65-66.  Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010)  International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009)  US Department of State (2010).  CEDAW (2008b), p.7
Gaining independence from Spain in 1821, El Salvador’s more recent history has been marked by a bitter civil war in the 1980s between the right-wing, military-dominated government and Marxist guerrillas led by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which left more than 75,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced. The conflict was stoked in part by stark inequality between the wealthy political elite and the impoverished majority of the population. The country was then hit by a series of natural disasters in the 1990s and 2000s, which left more than a million people homeless. Heavily reliant on remittances sent home by Salvadoreans living in the USA, El Salvador is classed as a lower middle-income country by the World Bank.
The Constitution of El Salvador grants men and women the same rights under family and property law, but women do not receive equal treatment in practice. The legislation provides for equality in the exercise of civil and political rights, but does not mention economic, social or cultural rights. The Penal Code prescribes prison time for any public official found guilty of depriving someone their Constitutional rights based on discrimination against their race, sex, religion, or nationality. In addition, a review of the legislation is underway, with the aim of removing discriminatory clauses. In 1996, the government established an Institute for the Development of Women, which has a mandate to ensure the implementation of action, plans to improve women’s level of protection.
Levels of violent crime and murder are among the highest in the world in El Salvador, and this includes high rates of gender-based violence against women, including ‘femicides’, i.e. the murder of women motivated by what the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women terms ‘gender prejudice’. Women’s political participation and leadership in other areas is also low, with little inclination on the part of political parties of the state to address this issue. The percentage of households headed by women increased from 26 to nearly 34 percent between 1992 and 2002, mainly because of large-scale male out migration from rural areas. At the same time, women continue to face limited economic opportunities, with most confined to precarious low-paid and low-status jobs, often in maquiladoras (garment assembly factories).
El Salvador ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1981, and has signed but not ratified the Optional Protocol. The country ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (‘Convention of Belém do Pará’) in 1996.
El Salvador is ranked in 105th place in the 2011 Human Development Index (out of 187 countries), with a score of 0.674. The country’s score under the Gender Inequality Index is 0.487, placing it in 93rd place (out of 146 countries). El Salvador’s score in the Global Gender Gap Report is 0.6567, placing it at 94th out of 135 countries with data.
 Freedom House (2010)  BBC (n.d.)  BBC (n.d.)  World Bank (n.d.)  Articles 3, 32, 37, 71 and 72 of the Constitution of El Salvador, adopted 15 December 1983 in Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2007), pp. 3, 10.  Article 292 of the Penal Code, adopted 26 April 1997; CEDAW (2007), pp. 4, 17.  CEDAW (2001), p. 7.  CEDAW (2008b), p.5  CEDAW (2008b), p.6  Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (2005), p. 10.  CEDAW (2008b), p.7  UNTC (2011)  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (n.d.)  United Nations Development Programme (2011) p.128  United Nations Development Programme (2011) p.140  World Economic Forum (2011) p.11
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