Femicide, Part 1: Honduras, one of the most dangerous places to be a woman

Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado became a tragic symbol of gender-based violence after she was killed, but many Honduran women live in fear of being attacked by men.
10:31 | 05/04/17

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Transcript for Femicide, Part 1: Honduras, one of the most dangerous places to be a woman
place where women are under seen. It's been called the most dangerous place on Earth to be a woman. And it's not a distant land oceans away. It's only 2,000 miles from Texas. Which is why thousands of women are fleeing to our shores to escape a machismo culture racked by gang violence. We bring you to Honduras to investigate femicide, an untold war. A small town girl with a megawatt smile. At only 19, MARIA Jose Alvarado catapulted from obscurity to be crowned miss hon do you rememb Ed miss Honduras. The first flight of her life to London where she'd compete for the miss world title. Her tiara dreams were never to be. Instead, rows of weeping beauty queens sat mourning one of their own. MARIA, you are and will remain a star. Reporter: Just days before the competition, MARIA Jose and her sister had been shot to death. Their murders a national tragedy. Turned international headline. Murders of the reigning miss Honduras and her sister -- Reporter: But even their devastated mother says she knows the bitter truth. The only thing unusual about their murders was that people paid attention. Honduras is a tropical land littered with churches, yet even under the ever-watchful eye of the virgin Mary, women here are under attack. We're going on a ride-along with the military police. We're getting a close-up view. Of the drug-fueled gang violence that has turned this country into a virtual war zone. But even the cops say women are the most disturbing casualties. His father was killed by gangs, his brother was killed at age 16, he himself was shot three times. Yet he says it's the violence against women that's out of control. There's even a term for it. "Femici "Femicide." With one woman murdered every6 hours in a nation smaller than Ohio, Honduras has one of the highest femicide rates in the world. It's a perfect storm of a sexist, machismo culture of gains, guns, girls, and a government unable to cope. This is a part of town known for gang activity but it's 10:00 in the morning and this is a murder that happened in broad daylight, out in the open. You can see the body is sort of half-covered right there. You can see his hands sticking out of the tarp. A short walk away, another crime scene. The kids seem unfazed by all this murder. They get used to it. Here a man's power is often measured in bullets. Even in this idyllic town where a young, bookish beauty queen became the country's most famous femicide victim. The night MARIA Jose was killed she tagged along to a party for her sister's boyfriend's birthday. That boyfriend, 32-year-old putarco Ruiz. Police believe he shot Sofia after a jealous argument, then turned his gun on her fleeing sister. Excellent student. Despite a slew of witnesses police believe Ruiz brazenly hid their bodies. They were found a week later in a shallow grave. Their older sister was there. Their house now a shrine. Cobwebs on trophies. Beautiful smiles frozen in time. Teresa says were it not for her daughter's fame, the police might not have bothered investigating at all. If she weren't a beauty queen, they wouldn't be interested in trying to solve her murder? Police charged Ruiz with the murders. He maintains his innocence and now, nearly three years later, his trial is finally under way. In fact, a verdict is expected tomorrow. Now Teresa and Corey are living in hiding, afraid of retaliation from the killer. They hope to get asylum in the U.S., but know their chances are slim. The unholy violence of Honduras has propelled a river of women and children towards America's southern border. Part of what the U.N. Has called an invisible refugee crisis. We are leaving an untold war. Reporter: Nisa Medina is battling a cture where women, she says, are disposable. Men are getting away with not just brutalizing women but killing them and not getting punished. Because we are -- it's common. It's something that you can be expected of, leaving here. Reporter: The threat too often comes from within a woman's own home. This is Haiti Hernandez, a 30-year-old mother of five. She lives with the horrific memories of the night her abusive husband brutally attacked her legs with a machete. The attack so savage, her husband had actually severed both her feet. He cut you here? He cut you? Uh-huh. Reporter: A ruthless attempt, she thinks, to steal her physical Independence. Do you think he went after your legs on purpose? Or was he just trying to kill you? Haiti is a true survivor. Just a year later she walks with donated prosthetics. And even plays in an all-male wheelchair basketball league. As horrifying as her story is, in a heartbreaking way she's actually lucky. Her attacker got 15 years in prison. Despite soaring rates of femicide, rape, and domestic violence, an estimated 95% of these crimes go totally unpunished. We wanted to find out why so few women ever get justice here. So we went to the cops. Here we run into another badly beaten woman. She's here to basically report she got beaten up by a neighbor. Her name is Ingrid. She's 24 years old. He hit you really hard. She said he hit her 30 times with a machete. The flat half of a machete, basically whipping her with the machete. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. What did he say while he was attacking you? He said that he was going to kill you. In front of your child. Most women don't have faith in the police. Ingrid is one of the brave ones. She wants a restraining order. But knows it may not help. Do you feel like men get away with stuff like this? Attacking women? Promising to keep in touch, Ingrid limps away. Her fate uncertain. The restraining order is only as powerful as the police and the courts that are going to back it up. How powerful is that piece of paper in this country? How powerful is a bullet? Is a bullet more powerful than a piece of paper? Yes. Reporter: We'd heard the government had formed a special headquarters for crimes against women. So we came to find out how they handle cases like Ingrid's. But after three hours of waiting -- This is the point place for reporting domestic violence in a country where the numbers are off the charts. Yet there are less than a handful of people here reporting. We asked the women's D.A., MARIA Mercedes bustello, to explain. If women really believed they could get justice here, wouldn't there be a line out the door? She admits that filing a complaint can take weeks. Police lack basic resources. And there are places so dangerous the cops can't even go in without military backup. What's crazy is here's a woman whose department is supposed to protect women. But she says, listen, if your boyfriend is beating you and he's a member of a gang? You're signing your own death warrant to go to police. Then we get a chance to see for ourselves what happens when the police do take action. Okay, we're riding with the police to deliver the restraining order. His wife is accusing him of punching her in the face and in the ribs. The plan is to deliver the order at the factory where he works. But it takes us two hours to even find the place. The charges are serious. But the mood? Surprisingly friendly. Once they return, they tell us the man who signed the order wasn't the one they were looking for. They were satisfied giving it to his brother. How did they know the man they were looking for wasn't there? Did they look for him? She tells us they asked for him nicely and were told he wasn't around. They told you he wasn't there, so -- you believe them? Watching this unfold, it becomes clear to me why so many women feel helpless here. When we come back, has Ingrid's restraining order done her any good? And the youngest victims of the untold war. Then -- a growing movement. The women fighting back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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