Feb. 23, 2013 (TSR) – Intimate partner and sexual violence against women is widespread in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report published by PAHO, the Pan American Health Organization, a regional branch of the World Health Organization.

The report published by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC), also notes that in seven of these nations the proportion is more than one in every four.

“Violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean: A comparative analysis of population data from 12 countries” is the title of the document that reflects how abuse includes physical injuries -from cuts and bruises to broken bones- going through miscarriages and burns, which involved more than 180, 000 women in Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru.

The report found for instance that between 17 percent of women and 53 percent of women interviewed reported having suffered physical or sexual violence intimate partner. And in fact in seven of the 12 countries, more than one in four women reported such violence. They also found very high levels of emotional abuse by a partner ranging from 17 to 48 percent of women who were interviewed.

However, despite this, between 28 and 64 percent of those affected did not seek help or talk to anyone about this experience.

The research also reflects that 10 to 27 percent of women in these countries reported having experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives, committed by a partner or other person, but usually by a man who they already knew.

Besides being a violation of human rights, violence against women has serious health consequences for them and their children, and has a profound impact on health workers and systems in the region, said Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of PAHO/WHO.

Meanwhile, Alessandra Guedes, coauthor of the report and regional advisor of PAHO/WHO on Domestic Violence, said that the work can serve to motivate decision-makers to invest more resources in implementing strategies based on evidence that prevent female violence.

“Well, I’ve been working in this area for many years so I can’t say that it surprises me because in a way we know that this is a widespread issue. Having said that, I think it’s a number that should shock everyone, including those of us working on this issue. To have a country where more than half of women have suffered violence at the hands of a partner is outrageous and it really should shock us into further action,” she said.

Female violence is a problem that goes beyond statistics, persists in every country in the world, a common evil, accepted by many as “normal”, and that can only be removed by the political will and judicial and civil proceedings in all sectors of society.

It is a phenomenon that occurs in various ways: at home, trafficking in women and girls, forced prostitution, violence in situations of armed conflict, including killings.

And also systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection of the fetus for male babies, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices and traditions.

The sexist nature of society and the inferiority of the ill-named weaker sex, encouraged in all cultures, and very difficult to eradicate, is one of the basic cause of this disease, experts say.

The concepts of patriarchy grouped different processes in their entirety, including culture, hierarchy and structures, among others and that whole understanding is necessary for its solution.

Even if women’s participation in responsibilities of senior management is increasing more and more, there is still a surcharge on the roles, and although they have gained ground in society, females often remain behind family and in subordination at home.

Hence, some interventions are necessary with more promising results, such as promoting education and opportunities for women and girls, improving their self-esteem, and negotiating skills, as well as reducing gender inequities in communities.

Advocacy for victims, better awareness of violence and its consequences among health workers, and a greater knowledge of the resources available to battered females (including legal assistance, housing and care of children) can also mitigate the consequences of event.


These reports also ask women retrospectively about their experiences with physical and sexual abuse prior to the age of 15. And what they looked at was the intersection between violence against women and violence against children. They found multiple connections between these two different types of violence.

For instance, in all of the countries that they studied, women who grew up in households where their mother was beaten by her partner had a greater risk of suffering partner violence themselves as adults. They also found that women who suffered physical or sexual abuse in childhood reported experiencing partner violence in adulthood twice as much as those who did not suffer violence in childhood. They also found that children living in households where women suffer partner violence were significantly more likely than other children to be punished with hitting, beating, spanking – in other words, with harsher disciplinary practices.

The 156 page report presents a comparative analysis of data from 13 nationally representative surveys from the region. The 122 tables and graphs present illustrate what is known about the prevalence, risk factors, consequences, and attitudes towards violence against women in these countries—including violence by intimate partners and sexual violence by any perpetrator.

This is the first time that nationally-representative data have been analyzed and presented in a single comparative format that allows readers a snapshot of what is known about violence against women across many different countries in the Region.

The report aims to raise awareness of violence against women within the LAC Region and around the world as a public health problem and a violation of human rights. By making it easier for readers to access comparable data on the prevalence, risk factors, consequences, and attitudes about violence against women, the authors hope to motivate decision-makers to invest more resources in evidence-based prevention and response strategies.





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