DOI: 10.12924/johs2019.15020070 |Publication Date: 14 January 2020

The Gendered Nature of Security in El Salvador: Challenges for Community-Oriented Policing

Erika Julieta Rojas Ospina
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Ås, Norway
Abstract: With the purge of the Military Forces and the creation of a new National Civilian Police (PNC) as mandated by the 1992 Peace Accords, El Salvador set the stage for the construction of a less state-oriented security approach. However, a failure to question issues of security and a lack of consideration of gender in the Peace negotiations and the Security Reform resulted in an overly gendered understanding of security, were the State remained as its subject and the practice privileged a militarized masculinity that has hindered the implementation of democratic policing. In this context, 25 years after the Peace Accords, the police have been unable to consolidate a democratic policing practice as oppressive policing strategies remain deeply embedded in the institution, side-by-side with heavy-handed measures that use repression to control social violence. From a feminist critical security approach, the article questions the gendered nature of security in El Salvador, and investigates the implication of the introduction of militaries into the work of the police, in terms of its symbolic influence in the gendered expectations of police men and women, and the practical impact it has on their work, e.g., the difficulty of consolidating Community-Oriented Policing. The argument is based on interviews and focus groups with police men and women, as well as with feminist organizations. The information was gathered during fieldwork in 2018 and 2019, and through extensive literature review.

Keywords: Community-Oriented Policing, El Salvador, Gender, Human Security, Police reform


2012 - 2020 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (