On Friday, May 12, the United Nations called for an investigation into the increasing number of violent attacks targeting sexual minorities in El Salvador. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), seven transgender women have been killed in the country so far this year. Local LGBT activist organizations claim that at least 17 people have been killed from January through April. Karla Avelar, a leading LGBT activist, said that local gangs continue to threaten her, forcing her to move six times in the past two years.
El Salvador is a strongly conservative country and suffers from extremely high rates of violent and non-violent crime, attributed in large part to the county’s various powerful gangs. With 81.2 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, El Salvador remains one of the most violent countries in the world despite a 20 percent drop from 2015.
Due to these extremely high crime rates, individuals present in El Salvador are advised to maintain a low profile (conceal signs of wealth), drive with windows closed and doors locked, and keep in mind that criminals may be armed (do not resist if confronted, and do not look your attacker directly in the eye).