A report produced by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), has revealed that intimate partner and sexual violence against women is widespread in the 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries surveyed.
Entitled: ‘Violence Against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean’, the report was officially launched in Jamaica by Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on March 26.
Done in collaboration with the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the report presents a comparative analysis of data from surveys conducted in 12 countries, including Jamaica.
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The Minister, who said the report was “very timely”, expressed the hope that it would be a “wind of change” in how the issue is dealt with in Jamaica.
“We must, as a society, begin to truly grapple with the prevalence of intimate personal violence. To do less would be to continue to condemn whole segments of our society to a vicious cycle that does nothing more than hurt and destroy families,” she said.
For her part, PAHO/WHO Representative, Jamaica, Margareta Sköld, said it is hoped that the report will contribute to increasing knowledge about violenceagainst women.
She said it is anticipated that the report will “motivate us all, policy makers, programmers, civil society, local communities and international development partners to enhance the political attention and engagement that it deserves, by designing and implementing evidence-based initiatives and policies that can contribute to the elimination of violence against women.”
According to a PAHO fact sheet on the report,in the 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries studied, between 17 per cent and 53 per cent of women interviewed reported having suffered physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In seven of the countries, more than one in four women reported such violence.
In Jamaica, more than 8,000 women aged 15 to 44 were interviewed for the study. Of these, close to 20 per cent reported experiencing either physical or sexual partner violence at some point in their lives and almost half reported experiencing controlling behaviours by a partner.
In addition, the data revealed that only 31 per cent of Jamaican women who had experienced violence at the hands of a partner reported seeking institutional help to address the violence and 37 per cent said that they had never spoken to anyone about the violence they experienced.
The fact sheet also informed that this is the first time that nationally representative data have been analysed and presented in a single comparative format that allows a snapshot of what is known about violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The 156-page report presents a comparative analysis of data from interviews with more than 180,000 women in Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter