Violence against women continues to rise across Latin America
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Violence against women continues to rise across Latin America

Violence against women is on the up across Latin America.

Worrying statistics

A study by the Inter American Development Bank found that only 14 percent of women who are victims of intrafamiliar violence in Colombia actually report the crime committed against them, El Tiempo reports. Violence against women across Latin America now makes up between 1.6 and 3.7 of the region’s GDP, a worrying statistic.

In Paraguay, data released by the country’s ministry for women reported that a total of 1,629 women were treated between January and October this year as a result of violence, the country’s La Nación reports. That’s around five women per day.

Around 35 percent of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence during their lifetime, with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries, according to UN statistics.

Not forgetting Guatemala. The Office of Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor has received some 49,680 reports of violence committed against women during 2015. Between December 25 and January 1 is reportedly the worst time of the year for attacks, while around 80 percent are believed to be committed when the aggressor is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or during pay day.

“If they are paid every fortnight or the end of the month falls on a Friday then it’s worse. We have a large amount of reports on the following Monday,” Dora Marisol López, head of the Prosecutor’s Litigation Unit explains.

Stopping violence

“We want to put a stop to violence committed against women,” UN Secretary General Ba-Kin Moon commented, during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25).

Violent acts are just one issue, but femicide and rape also slot in under the title, as cases continue to grow. While raising awareness is well and good, what can actually be done to reduce such increasingly worrying statistics?

Argentine author Selva Almada has written a book about her own experience in relation to femicide, in her latest novel “Chicas Muertas” based on the murders of three adolescent girls in the rural Entre Ríos province during the 1980s.

“Problems in relation to women aren’t just from the here and now, it’s not a twentieth century issue, it’s something which has a historic and cultural roots in our society,” she told the BBC.

“Previously it was almost ‘naturalized’ or made invisible as it wasn’t seen as a problem, we didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t published by the media: nowadays, it (violence) is covered by the media every so often and it is more visible and therefore made to appear more natural,” Almada comments, believing that some media coverage “leaves a lot to be desired and further contributes to prejudice.”

Certainly, until stigma can be set aside and society appears more open to accept violence committed against women as a grave, ongoing issue, thousands of cases risk remaining behind closed doors. Continually accepted as just a part of daily life for many women across the region.

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