Venezuela; new law for women 'useless unless fully implemented', said Amnesty in new report
Posted: 15 July 2008
In a new report published today, Amnesty International urged the Venezuelan authorities to show political resolve and to secure the resources needed to ensure the new law to prevent violence against women is fully effective.
Amnesty International's Americas Programme Deputy Director, Guadalupe Marengo, said:
'The 2007 Venezuelan law to protect women from violence is an example for the rest of the region but it will be useless for women unless it's fully implemented.
'Implementation of the law means more shelters, special tribunals and training for those who have to deal with these crimes.'
According to Amnesty International's latest report - 'The law is there - let's use it' thousands of women in Venezuela are raped, beaten, and verbally abused at home.
However, there are currently only two refuge shelters for women escaping domestic violence in the whole of Venezuela.
In 2007 alone, 4,484 women called a helpline set up by INAMUJER (National Institute of Women's Affairs) to report abuse. Local organisations, however, estimate that only one in nine women report violence to the authorities.
Many of the women who spoke to Amnesty International said that lack of financial independence and information, insufficient shelters and a poorly resourced police and judicial infrastructure all leave them feeling unsafe.
Guadalupe Marengo continued:
'Thousands of women in Venezuela live in a constant state of fear of violence from their partners, fear for their lives and the safety of their children. When a safety net is not provided, many women feel that they have no choice but to stay with their abuser or to be homeless and unable to support themselves or their children.'
In March 2007, the government passed a law that defines violence against women as a human rights violation and reaffirms the responsibility of the state and its officials to eradicate it. The law replaced one passed in 1999 that, although positive, failed to be fully implemented.
It sets out measures to prevent violence against women, to protect women at risk and to punish those responsible. It also requires the authorities to implement a far-reaching programme to raise awareness and challenge public attitudes which condone or conceal this under-reported crime.
Guadalupe Marengo said:
'Venezuela's government needs to step up to the challenge set by the 2007 law.'
Read the report 'The law is there, let's use it' (PDF)