The Impact of “Un Violador en Tu Camino” in the Current Climate on Violence Against Women in Paraguay
Existing data on the forms and prevalence of VAW in Paraguay is available through a range of sources. The Documentation and Studies Center (CDE) has systematically documented cases reported in the press from 1989 till date. The Kuña Aty Foundation also documents and files the cases of VAW reported to the organisation, as well as, from popular media. The annual reports of the Human Rights Coordinating Commission of Paraguay (CODEHUPY) echo the data registered in the Attention Service for Women (SEDAMUR) - an institution of the Women’s Secretariat (SMPR) - and that of police records.
Paraguay has made major strides since 1995. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (ratified in 1986), together with articles 46, 47 and 48 of the Paraguayan Constitution of 1992, establish equality between women and men, prohibit discrimination, and require the State to remove the barriers that sustain it. Another very important step has been the creation of the Women’s Bureau of the Office of the President of the Republic (the State body responsible for coordinating policies on gender equality), and its close relationship with women’s organizations that constitute a sector of social actors with an agenda to overcome the inequalities faced by women. Nonetheless, the lack of legal regulation for article 46 of the National Constitution of 1992, prohibiting discrimination, means that there are no valid instruments to which recourse can be made when a specific instance of discrimination occurs. Accordingly, a non-discrimination bill has been submitted to the national parliament and is currently being debated for rejection or approval. A variety of discussion forums have arisen out of this work, along with two documents containing anti-discrimination measures. The creation of other public bodies that have gender equity among their main aims is a sign of the consolidating institutionalization of gender in the State, which is also moving gradually towards decentralization. Such bodies include the Senate Commission on Equity, Gender and Development, the Gender and Social Equity Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, the Gender Office of the Supreme Court, and the Advisory Gender and Equity Commission in the Municipality of Asunción. There are also Women’s Bureaus in the country’s 17 departments; and, increasingly, municipios are establishing mechanisms of this type at the local level.
Violence against women and children is a serious public health concern, with costs at multiple levels of society. Although violence is a threat to everyone, women and children are particularly susceptible to victimization because they often have fewer rights or lack appropriate means of protection. In some societies certain types of violence are deemed socially or legally acceptable, thereby contributing further to the risk to women and children. In the past decade research has documented the growing magnitude of such violence, but gaps in the data still remain. Victims of violence of any type fear stigmatization or societal condemnation and thus often hesitate to report crimes. The issue is compounded by the fact that for women and children the perpetrators are often people they know and because some countries lack laws or regulations protecting victims. Some of the data that have been collected suggest that rates of violence against women range from 15 to 71 percent in some countries and that rates of violence against children top 80 percent (García-Moreno et al., 2005; Pinheiro, 2006). These data demonstrate that violence poses a high burden on global health and that violence against women and children is common and universal. On January 27-28, 2011, the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Global Violence Prevention convened its first workshop to explore the prevention of violence against women and children. Part of the forum's mandate is to engage in multisectoral, multidirectional dialogue that explores crosscutting approaches to violence prevention. To that end, the workshop was designed to examine these approaches from multiple perspectives and at multiple levels of society. In particular, the workshop was focused on exploring the successes and challenges presented by evidence-based preventive interventions and examining the possibilities of scaling up or translating such work in other settings. Speakers were invited to share the progress and outcomes of their work and to engage in dialogue exploring gaps and opportunities in the field.
All things considered, As a result of a growing body of global evidence, the international community has begun to give violence against women a greater priority in the public health agenda and to recognize that efforts to improve women’s health and well-being will be limited unless they take into account the magnitude and consequences of such violence for women’s lives.
García-Moreno C, Watts C, Ellsberg M, Heise L, Jansen HAFM. WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2005.
Pinheiro PS. Report of the independent expert for the United Nations study on violence against children. New York: United Nations; 2006.
WHO (World Health Organization). World report on violence and health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002.
WHO and LSHTM (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine). Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: Taking action and generating evidence. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2010.