Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Caribbean women subject to widespread sexual violence

Sexual violence against women is being seen as widespread in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alessandra Guedes, Regional Advisor on Intra-Family Violence at PAHO has indicated that a recent report titled “Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean” showed that unfortunately violence against women is widespread in the 12 countries that they studied which included; Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

“We found for instance that between 17 per cent of women and 53 per cent of women interviewed reported having suffered physical or sexual violence [with an] intimate partner. And in fact in seven of the 12 countries, more than one in four women reported such violence,” she stated.

“We also found very high levels of emotional abuse by a partner ranging from 17 to 48 per cent of women who were interviewed. So the key message is that this is unfortunately a very widespread phenomenon that affects a large proportion of women in our region,” she further noted.

Guedes also acknowledged that the report also speaks about violence against children. Including, asking women retrospectively about their experiences with physical and sexual abuse prior to the age of 15.

“We looked at what was the intersection between violence against women and violence against children. And what we found is that there are multiple connections between these two different types of violence.

“For instance, in all of the countries that we 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. We 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,” she revealed.

The Regional Advisor added that they 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.

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