Un espacio para ideas y soluciones en seguridad ciudadana y justicia en América Latina y el Caribe

Yes, Caribbean men are dying from violence. But what about women?

Barbados woman

By Heather Sutton

As we near the International day to End Violence Against Women, it is important to recognize how little is actually known about the issue in the Caribbean. The impact of violence on different gender groups (men, women, boy and girls) is still understudied particularly where high levels of urban violence have led to understandable focus on the number of homicides, which is the case for the Caribbean.

While they are less frequently victims of lethal violence, women do suffer disproportionately from intimate partner violence and sexual violence and may be repeatedly victimized, or severely traumatized.

Violence against women is more difficult than other types of violence and crime to measure. We tend to lack the special surveys that estimate prevalence in the Caribbean. We do know that there is widespread acceptance of traditional gender norms and the use of violence, which are often linked to higher levels of violence against women in societies. For example, 30% of Jamaican women are likely to agree that woman have an obligation to have unwanted sex with their husband, twice the level for their peers from Latin America.

If you ask Caribbean adults about a husband hitting his wife, one in four (27.5% of males and 22.6% of females) say they would approve or understand if she neglects the household chores.

 

If a man’s wife neglects the household chores, would you approve of the husband hitting his wife, or would you not approve but understand, or would you neither approve nor understand?

If a man’s wife neglects the household chores, would you approve of the husband hitting his wife, or would you not approve but understand, or would you neither approve nor understand?

More than one out of three would approve or understand if the wife were unfaithful (39% of males and 30% of females). Of these, 86% (88% males and 82% females) report having been physically disciplined themselves as children.

 

If a man’s wife is unfaithful, would you approve of the husband hitting his wife, or would you not approve but understand, or would you neither approve nor understand?

graf 2 carib vaw

Source for graphs: 2014 Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) survey data. Calculations by Luciana Alvex Ruiz and the author. Note: Latin American Average includes average includes 28 countries in the americas.  The Caribbean average icludes the five countries shown.

Population-based studies from countries around the world have demonstrated that attitudes tolerating partner violence are highly predictive of the violence occurring.

The good news is that there is evidence to suggest that interventions to change norms and behaviour can have a positive effect of reducing levels of physical and sexual violence against women. Caribbean countries would be wise to invest in some of these evidence-based programs. Not only is it imperative to start protecting the rights of women, but preventing violence in the home can also stop children from growing up with increased aggression and emotional problems, which may prevent perpetration of violence and delinquency later in life.

Photo credit: Flickr CC Sue Kellerman

This post was updated with links and the author’s bio

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Sobre el autor
Heather Sutton is an IDB consultant in Citizen Security. She is the Research Coordinator for several IDB projects on crime and violence in the Caribbean involving victimization surveys and surveys on Violence Against Women. Before coming to the IDB, Heather worked as a researcher, project manager and activist on the subjects of public safety, armed violence and gun control for the Brazilian NGO Instituto Sou da Paz. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a BA in International Affairs from Colorado University.

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