50% of women experience domestic violence in relationships – Statistics
- Includes psychological abuse, battery, murder, and rape by partners
By Rabindra Rooplall
Of the more than 60 percent of women who were involved in a relationship or union, 27.7 percent reported physical abuse, 26.3 percent had experienced verbal abuse and 12.7 percent experienced sexual violence, according to statistics.
President Donald Ramotar recently announced a “no nonsense” approach to domestic abuse – at Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security staff conference at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC).
“It is a criminal and abhorrent act when any woman is abused, emotionally, mentally or physically and no woman should be a victim of sexual or domestic violence,” President Ramotar noted.
Reports revealed that domestic violence, and particularly the abuse of women by their male partners, is among the most common and dangerous forms of gender-based violence. Women become targets by virtue of their relationship to the male abuser and the violence is inflicted on them usually, but not exclusively, within the home.
“Too often, people take the position that this is a family matter…We saw in many cases it ends in murder and loss of life. The government through the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has sought to break the silence on these atrocities and is committed to the sustained rejection of abuse in any form,” President Ramotar said.
Reports further revealed that in the international arena, domestic violence has been at the center of a debate over state responsibility for gender-based violence by non-state actors for a long time. It was also noted that the movement to safeguard the family coupled with privacy rights, has historically discouraged direct state intervention in domestic issues.
At the same time, it is widely acknowledged that the family is often the site of the most flagrant acts of violence against women, including psychological abuse, battery, murder, and rape of women by their partners.
However, because domestic violence involves crimes against women by actors who are private rather than public, perpetrators often escape the criminal justice system entirely.
It is believed that almost two-thirds of the female population suffer from domestic violence and are attended to by health officials. This figure could represent a significant shortfall of the actual case as all health officials may not be equipped with the relevant investigative skills to determine certain forms of domestic violence.
This was the opinion offered by Consultant Anaesthetist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr Vivienne Mitchell.
Domestic violence cuts across class, income, ethnicity, age, geographic location, sex, sexual orientation and occupation. According to Dr Rosina Wiltshire, Caricom’s Advocate for Gender Justice, until violence against women is addressed, “the downward slide of societies across the region, including growing violence in schools and communities, would continue”.
The quality of data on violence against women in the Caribbean is generally acknowledged to be inadequate. The nature of the phenomenon makes it difficult for measurement at any level of exactitude or even as definitively as other kinds of criminal offences.
Many women do not report incidents of violence because of shame, humiliation or an expectation that agencies would be less than effective or responsive in treating with their complaints. That, combined with inefficiencies at a technical level in capturing and recording reports of violations, essentially means that the data that exist are not reliable indicators of prevalence.
The World Conference on Human Rights laid extensive groundwork for international action aimed at eliminating violence against women, with governments agreeing that the United Nations system and Member States should work towards achieving this goal in both public and private life.
The Vienna Declaration (also known as VDPA, is a human rights declaration adopted by consensus at the World Conference on Human Rights on 25 June 1993) explicitly links domestic violence to sexual harassment, exploitation and trafficking in women; gender bias in the administration of justice; and the harmful effects of traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism.
Studies in both developing and developed countries indicate that between 20 and 67 percent of women globally experience violence in relationships.