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Addressing gender-based violence in the Latin American and Caribbean Region

Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Latin American and Caribbean Region.

WomanThis working paper presents an overview of gender-based violence (GBV) in Latin America, with special emphasis on good practice interventions to prevent GBV or offer services to its
survivors or perpetrators.

Violence against women is often referred to as "GBV" because it is rooted in women's lack of power in relationships and in society relative to men. Intimate partner violence and sexual coercion are the most common forms of GBV, and these are the types of GBV that analyzed in this paper. GBV includes, but is not limited to: (i) physical violence, such as slapping, kicking, hitting with a fist or other object, or use of weapons; (ii) emotional violence, such as systematic humiliation, controlling behavior, degrading treatment and threats of harm; (iii) sexual violence, including forcible sexual intercourse, coerced sex by intimidation or threats, or being forced to take part in sexual activities that are considered degrading or humiliating; and (iv) economic violence, such restricting access to financial or other resources with the purpose of controlling or subjugating a person.

Although both men and women can be victims as well as perpetrators of violence, the characteristics of violence most commonly committed against women differ in critical respects from violence commonly committed against men. Women are more likely to be physically assaulted or murdered by someone they know, often a family member or intimate partner. They are also at much greater risk of being sexually assaulted or exploited, either in childhood, adolescence or as adults.

Prevalence estimates for intimate partner violence vary widely among countries, and sometimes even between studies conducted in the same countries. The majority of studies estimate lifetime prevalence of physical violence between intimate partners between 20 and 50 percent of women. Sexual violence within marriage is also common, with estimates in Latin America ranging from 4 percent of women in Ecuador to 47 percent in Cusco (Peru) reporting having been forced by a partner to have sex against their will at some point in their lives. International research within the last decade has revealed that between 8 and 26% of women and girls reported having been sexually abused, either as children or adults.

The Life Cycle of Violence Against Women

 

Women are vulnerable to different types of violence at different moments in their lives.

"Violence against women is often referred to as gender-based because it is rooted in women’s lack of power in relationships and in society relative to men. In many societies, women are expected to be submissive and sexually available to their husbands at all times, and it is considered both a right and an obligation for men to use violence in order to “correct” or chastise women for perceived transgressions."

Good practice interventions

The working paper is divided into four different sections organized by sector, namely: justice, health, education, and multi-sectoral approaches (e.g. social services and economic development). In each sector, good practices are identified for: (i) law and policies; (ii) institutional reforms; (iii) community-level interventions; and (iv) individual behavior change strategies.

Conclusions and recommendations

It is essential to focus on the prevention of GBV, not just on services for its survivors. Prevention is best achieved by empowering women and reducing gender disparities, and by changing norms and attitudes which foster violence. Interventions should employ a multi-sectoral approach and work at different levels: individual, community, institutional, and laws and policies. They should create and foster partnerships between government and nongovernmental agencies. GBV may still be common in Latin America and the Caribbean, but there are promising approaches available to begin working toward its elimination. >>>More...

 

 




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