Latin American women face widespread violence: Study
WASHINGTON (AFP) – More than half of Bolivian women have suffered domestic violence, according to a report out Thursday that found such abuse widespread in Latin America, with partners usually the perpetrators.
In seven of the 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries surveyed by the Pan American Health Organisation, more than one in four women reported having experienced such brutality in their lifetimes.
At 17 percent, women in the Dominican Republic reported the lowest level of domestic violence. It was followed by its neighbour Haiti, the poorest country in the region, with 19 percent.
PAHO pointed to social and cultural norms that support violence against women in the region, including that “there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten” and “a man has a right to assert power over a woman and is considered socially superior.”
It also found that physical violence is considered an “acceptable way” to resolve conflict in a relationship and that sexual activity – including rape – is a “marker of masculinity.”
Even when looking at just a 12-month period, rather than an entire lifetime, the report found that more than a quarter of women – 25.5 percent – in Bolivia reported physical or sexual violence in 2008.
The lowest ratio, at 7.7 percent, was in El Salvador (2008) and Jamaica (2008-2009).
In up to 82 percent of cases, women suffered physical injuries, ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones, miscarriages and burns.
Despite the abuse, between 28 percent and 64 percent of victims did not speak to anyone or seek help, according to the 156-page report, titled “Violence Against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean.”