efe-epaBy Yolanda Salazar La Paz

Faced with the alarming number of women slain by macho violence in Bolivia, the government institution for the protection of women plans to declare a national emergency as it implements a plan of action to prevent more femicides.

Tania Sanchez, director of the Ana Maria Romero Multinational Service for Women and Ending Patriarchy, told EFE in an interview that this week the organization will present to the Cabinet of Ministers its plan to declare violent female deaths a national emergency.

"The Cabinet meeting will decide on the best and most immediate measures capable of diminishing the number of crimes of violence," Sanchez said.

Between January and June 2019 at least 60 femicides have been committed in the country, a number almost identical to those in the same period last year, when 61 women were murdered.

However, "the most recent femicides totally alarm us because of the cruelty with which they were inflicted and the men who perpetrated them," the director said.

The most recent cases have been deaths by stabbing, suffocation and beatings, mostly perpetrated by husbands or former lovers of those murdered, and including two policemen.

Sanchez let it be known that the plan of action she proposes is focused on preventing violence toward women and also aims to "speed up an effective response by the different agencies and organizations" cooperating in the investigation of these cases.

"We are laying out a joint proposal that goes beyond whether to declare a state of emergency or not, for a plan of action that will help improve the government's response on the one hand, but will also summon an alliance of various organizations on the other," she said.

Of the murders verified up to June by the Attorney General's Office, only 14 cases were closed, either with a sentence or dismissal.

According to the director, Bolivia has a "package of legislative and regulatory measures" to do with the protection of women but they have never yet been correctly applied.

"Legislative progression has not kept up with the changes in our society," she said.

Since 2013 Bolivia has had a regulation protecting women from all kinds of violence and punishes femicide with 30 years in prison, the maximum penalty in this country.

Six years after the enactment of that regulation, Sanchez noted that more women are filing complaints all the time, but said there are still factors to be improved to make it effective.

"The regulation has been evaluated and it needs improvement, so we ask the Attorney General's Office to do its work," she said.

She added that prevention is an aspect that "has been less developed," but it is important to promote cooperation among all sectors of society to halt macho violence.

"The government is making greater efforts. We will be announcing those efforts and we hope they bear fruit very soon," she said.

The Multinational Service for Women and Ending Patriarchy was founded this year by means of a decree and has been operating for three months enacting policies against violence toward women and tracking the observance of public policies protecting women's rights.

The number of femicides in Bolivia has led Attorney General Juan Lanchipa to organize, because of this "extreme violence," a national meeting of representatives of different parts of society to deal with this problem.

Bolivia's Public Defender's Office has also launched a strategy for the prevention of violence to be imposed on the 175 municipalities around the country with the worst records of violence against women, teens and children.