Chile cracks down on femicide against pregnant women, minors, girlfriends

FILE PHOTO: Chile's President Sebastian Pinera is pictured during the inauguration of the annual National Meeting of Entrepreneurs (ENADE) in Santiago, Chile January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Monday signed a law that strengthens existing legislation against femicide, expanding the definition to include the killing of non-married partners and boosting penalties for killing pregnant women and minors.

Chile’s current law against femicide include penalties of between 15 years and life, but was restricted largely to the murder of live-in partners or spouses. The new law expands that definition and adds additional penalties for killing a pregnant woman, a minor or a disabled woman.

The so-called Gabriela’s Law, named for Gabriela Alcaino, a young woman killed by her boyfriend, sends a “potent signal without any ambiguity against any type of violence directed especially against women,” Pinera said in a signing ceremony at the La Moneda presidential palace.

Thus far in 2020, there have been 5 femicides committed in Chile and 17 attempted homicides of women, according to government statistics.

Reporting by Natalia Ramos, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Alistair Bell