240.          While the project was underway, the Rapporteurship received information from the States, members of the administration of justice, civil society and the academic sector, who reported on the public efforts aimed at preventing, investigating and punishing acts of violence against women and providing redress for them.  The Commission has recognized in the past that the adoption of international instruments like the Convention of Belém do Pará and the CEDAW has promoted a series of changes on the workings of the administration of justice regarding discrimination and violence against women, in the legislation and in state programs, in civil and common law countries.[318]  These efforts put into evidence the responsibility that the States have undertaken to deal with violence against women as a public problem, and to amend and implement, in an effective and practical way, a body of law that conforms to international parameters.


241.          As it compiled its information, the IACHR could see that practically every State in the Americas has adopted legislation, public policies and government programs in the areas of civil and criminal law, to deal with some forms of violence against women, which includes the treatment their cases receive.  They have taken a number of initiatives in the justice sector to better prosecute cases of violence against women and the treatment that victims receive when they turn to judicial institutions of protection.  This section describes a number of the efforts undertaken.


A.                 Efforts in the administration of justice sector


242.          The Rapporteurship received information on the efforts made within the administration of justice system to improve the prosecution of cases involving violence against women and the treatment of victims when they turn to judicial institutions of protection.  Salient here is the preparation of national diagnostic studies examining how the domestic administration of justice systems deal with cases of violence against women, creation of special courts and units within the public prosecutor’s office and the police to deal specifically with gender issues and equipped with special expertise, creation of training programs for those in the justice system and the police, and programs to provide advocate services to victims who have turned to the judicial system.  A number of court rulings have been delivered underscoring the necessity of protecting the rights of women victims of violence, and the appointment of a number of women to the benches of the Supreme Courts in the region.


243.          With international cooperation, research, studies and analyses have been conducted in a number of countries on how the justice systems and other state institutions respond to and treat cases involving violence and discrimination of women, the purpose being to discover ways to improve the judicial response.  In Bolivia, for example, the Constitutional Tribunal ordered a study, which was conducted with support from the Spanish Government, to identify the kinds of discrimination that women suffer in the administration of justice system.[319]  In Honduras, the State commissioned a study on the obstacles that women encounter when they file domestic violence complaints with the various institutions in the justice system charged with applying the existing laws to address cases of domestic violence.  A number of research papers have also been conducted in Guatemala, such as the National Diagnostic Study on the Institutional Response to the Problem of Intrafamily Violence and Violence against Women, which CONAPREVI did in 2003.  Paraguay’s Supreme Court commissioned research into the obstacles that women victims of violence and discrimination encounter when they seek to avail themselves of their judicial guarantees and protections.[320]


244.          The Rapporteurship has also learned that a number of specialized units and courts have been created to deal exclusively with cases of domestic violence.  A number of courts of first instance have been established in Uruguay; in the United States, specialized courts have been established at the state level; and Costa Rica has special domestic violence courts –four in San José and one in each of the remaining provincial capitals.  In countries like Belize, Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Peru, family courts are being established at the national and local levels to deal exclusively with crimes of violence against women, while in other countries like Paraguay and Guatemala, the justices of the peace are competent to hear such cases.  In a number of countries of the English-speaking Caribbean, family courts have been created, the idea being to better integrate social services into the administration of justice.[321]  In countries like Argentina and Saint Lucia, multidisciplinary teams, with special training in intrafamily violence, have been set up within the courts to provide technical support in domestic violence cases.


245.          Units specializing in intrafamily violence and sex offenses have been set up within the judicial branch, public prosecutor’s offices, and the police. Costa Rica has established the Secretariat for Gender Affairs within the judicial branch of government, and the Women and Child Protective Services Program within the police.  In Mexico, an order was issued for creation of a sex-offenses unit within the public prosecutor’s office, while in Guatemala an office of the Special Prosecutor for Women’s Affairs was created, as was a homicide unit in the national police specializing in murders where the victims are female.  In Colombia, Law 360, enacted in 1997, orders that specialized units be created in public prosecutor’s offices nationwide to devote special treatment to crimes against sexual freedom and human dignity.  In Belize, too, domestic violence units have been set up in a number of police stations nationwide, and domestic violence has been added to the curriculum at the Police Training Academy. 


246.          Similarly, Jamaica has established a sex crimes unit within the police force, with several objectives:  to create an environment that encourages women victims to report incidents of sexual assault and child abuse; to effectively investigate complaints of abuse; to offer the needed counseling and therapy services; and to conduct programs in public schools to educate children about sex crimes and abuse.  El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office has created a specialized team to deal with intrafamily violence; nine self-help groups have been set up for women victims of violence, which operate out of various deputy attorney offices nationwide.  In Panama a Gender Affairs Office has been created within the national police force, as have police units trained in responding to, preventing and repressing domestic violence in all its forms.  In the Dominican Republic, five police stations called "Women’s Friends" have been created and specialize in protecting women who have been raped.  These stations are in San Francisco de Marcorís, Santiago, Villa Altagracia and Baní.


247.          A number of programs have been set up to improve the way in which women victims are treated when they attempt to avail themselves of the institutions of judicial protection.  For example, in Antigua and Barbuda, the Directorate of Gender Affairs is conducting the Court Advocacy Program under which women seeking a protective order under the new domestic violence law are provided access to an advocate to assist them in the proceedings.[322]   Advocates help women complete the required paperwork and may also prepare the statement that accompanies the application.  Since its establishment in 1994, Saint Lucia’s Family Court has endeavored to create a respectful and non-contentious environment that is sensitive to women victims of violence.  The latter are provided with social counseling services and assistance in preparing for the hearings.  Social workers may be present for the proceedings as well.


248.          From the reports the Rapporteurship has received, it is clear that training programs for civil servants in general, and particularly those destined for justice and police officials, are on the rise.  State institutions devoted to protecting the rights of women play a prominent role in these programs, as do national nongovernmental organizations that promote women’s rights, nongovernmental networks like CLADEM, the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (hereinafter "CAFRA"), the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), and international organizations like the Gender Unit of the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (hereinafter "ILANUD"), UNIFEM, and the Inter-American Development Bank (hereinafter "IADB").


249.          As previously observed, the structure of the training programs has varied greatly among the various countries of the Americas.  In the English-speaking Caribbean, the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police has partnered with CAFRA, a nongovernmental network, to train some 5,000 police officers from the region in how to respond to incidents involving gender-based violence.[323]  In countries like Brazil, Jamaica and Venezuela, the state institutions that deal with women’s affairs have devised training programs for members of the justice system, to make them aware of cultural stereotypes that discriminate against women and how to be more respectful of and sensitive to women when they turn to the courts for protection of their rights.  Argentina’s National Women’s Council has developed a national program to educate, provide technical assistance and raise awareness of violence against women.  In this program the federal government partners with women at the provincial and municipal levels and civil society organizations to strengthen services, the end goal being to stop violence against women.


250.          Mexico’s National Women’s Institute (hereinafter "INMUJERES") has launched several training programs for staff and officials in the public prosecutors offices, of the Supreme Court of Justice and general procurator offices in a number of states[324] and a police training program that features workshops to educate police about human rights and violence against women.  Some 700 police participated.  In Paraguay, 350 judges and justices of the peace and 300 police officers of differing ranks were trained in 2005.  In Panama, ‘gender’ has been added to the training programs at the public prosecutor’s office and the judicial school which trains personnel from the judicial branch.  The following topics are now being taught:  gender and law, domestic violence and human rights.  In Peru, the judicial branch conducts training programs and workshops for magistrates and auxiliary personnel.  In Colombia, efforts are being made to train personnel in the judicial branch of government.  For example, the Superior Council of the Judiciary and the Rodrigo Lara Bonilla Judicial School are working to put together a Basic and Advanced Training Program with the emphasis on gender and targeted at officials and personnel in the judicial branch.  The goal is to train 15,000 between 2002 and 2006.[325]


251.          Guatemala boasts a number of State-sponsored training programs for civil servants and in recent years has developed a fellowship program for judges and attorneys to enable them to pursue master’s degrees and take courses in women’s rights at the Universidad Privada Rafael Landívar, with financial support from the Government of Finland.  In the United States, many states have enacted laws making training in the federal Violence against Women Act mandatory for police, prosecutors and judges.  States receive grants to enable them to conduct these programs.  Also, the Office on Violence against Women, which is part of the Department of Justice, has, through the National Judicial Institute and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, trained 1,100 judges from all 50 states since the year 2000.  In El Salvador, the Supreme Court has made a great effort, through the National Council of the Judiciary and the Judicial Training School, to educate judges and servants of the justice system about intrafamily violence.  Working in partnership with various nongovernmental organizations, it has also helped put together a manual on the application of the intrafamily violence law.  Staff of the Attorney General’s Office have received instruction on gender-based and intrafamily violence.


252.          The judicial branch in Costa Rica has had a Violence Commission since 1996.  Working in coordination with the National Judicial School, the Commission conducts an established training and awareness program for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, public defenders, court assistants and staff of the departments of legal medicine, psychology and social work.  Additionally, the Judicial School in Costa Rica has also developed a number of training programs for justice officials.[326]  These include a specialized program on the subject of domestic violence, conducted by ILANUD with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  This program was geared to judges, magistrates, mayors, public defenders, prosecutors, forensic physicians and psychologists, and examines the dynamics of violence against women and children from a gender perspective.  In 1993, a parallel program was conducted under the title "Women and Human Rights" which targeted support (nonprofessional) staff and judges from the various offices.  It featured forensic physicians and social workers and professionals from other institutions that in some way deal with this problem. Between 1994 and 1996, the institution organized a program of training workshops led by the Women’s Institute at the Universidad Nacional, for the general purpose of informing participants from the judicial system about the causes and consequences of domestic violence against women in all age groups and child abuse, and to make them more sensitive to these problems and their victims’ plight.


253.          In Chile, a series of training programs and plans have been developed for institutional personnel, including, among others, the Chilean national police and educators.  In the Bahamas, the National Police Force has a permanent program that trains police officers in urban and rural areas about domestic violence.  In Ecuador, under an agreement concluded with the National Women’s Council, the public prosecutor’s office has embarked on a process of mainstreaming the gender perspective into policies, programs and projects.  An important part of this process is the training provided to the prosecutors and administrative personnel of that office.


254.          The Rapporteurship has also learned of a number of court rulings aimed at protecting the rights of women.  Prominent here are the rulings of Colombia’s Constitutional Court, which civil society has recognized as being vital to defending, ensuring and development the rights of women recognized in the Colombian Constitution and in the international human rights instruments the Colombian State has ratified.[327]  The Court has issued a number of judgments in which it found that civil, family, and labor laws and public policies that discriminated against women were unconstitutional.[328]  


255.          One of its more recent rulings is Judgment 453 from 2005, in which the Court protected the rights of a woman who was a rape victim.  In the decision the Court held that rape victims have a constitutional right to be protected from evidentiary measures that represent an unreasonable, unnecessary and disproportionate invasion of their privacy.  In May of 2006, the Constitutional Court of Colombia also held in its Judgment C-355/06 that abortion will not constitute a crime when the interruption of a pregnancy with a woman’s consent is produced (i) when continuing the pregnancy constituted danger to the life or health of the woman and is certified by a doctor, 2) when there is a malformation of the fetus that threatens its life and this is certified by a doctor; and 3) when the pregnancy has resulted from an act of sexual violence or forced artificial insemination without consent or incest.


256.          More women have been appointed to the bench in courts of first, second and third instance and to administrative positions as well.  However, progress here is still very slow and uneven.  Women are still a much greater presence in administrative positions and in courts of first instance than they are in courts of second and third instance.  The IACHR is pleased that women have been appointed magistrates and justices on the Supreme Courts of a number of countries of the region, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Paraguay, and to regional courts like the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which now boast three women judges. 


257.          On a related point, the IACHR has repeatedly expressed its concern over the fact that discrimination against women has for so long curtailed their capacity to participate in government and public life, both at the national and international levels.[329]  And while important progress has been made, women continue to be grossly underrepresented here and everywhere else in the world.  At the domestic level, the Commission is urging the OAS member States to open up opportunities to facilitate women’s participation in public life in their countries, particularly in the political and justice systems. The IACHR considers necessary to create proper mechanisms to ensure the nomination of women for the countries’ superior and constitutional courts to overcome gender prejudices still rooted in the countries’ judicial structures. At the international level, the IACHR is also urging the OAS member States to nominate women to positions in the agencies of the inter-American system like the IACHR and the Inter-American Court, so that men and women are more evenly represented in these bodies.[330]


B.         The adoption of criminal and civil laws about violence and discrimination against women


258.          Most countries of the Americas have adopted a framework of laws to address various types of violence and discrimination, particularly in the area of domestic violence.  The development of this legal framework has been influenced both by human rights instruments and by models crafted by intergovernmental organizations such as CARICOM in the English-speaking Caribbean.[331]  The structure of this body of laws, the pace of its development and its reach have varied among the countries of the hemisphere.  



259.          Most countries have incorporated women’s right to live free from violence into their national constitutions, and have amended their penal codes and/or adopted special laws to echo this right, particularly in the case of domestic violence.  The States’ answers to the questionnaire and the information compiled by the IACHR confirm the fact that on the whole, a great many of the countries have by now amended their laws, adopted new laws, and/or amended their Penal Code to make provision for domestic or intrafamily violence.  These countries include: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.[332]


260.          The elements of this legal framework for addressing domestic or intrafamily violence vary in nature and content.  In the area of civil law, the laws mainly provide for protective measures for the victim or the family unit, or precautionary measures in advance of oral proceedings, services for the victims and economic reparations.  In the area of criminal law, the laws and codes establish a variety of penalties for the aggressor.


261.          The main purpose of some laws is to prevent the occurrence of the crime, such as El Salvador’s Law against Intrafamily Violence, which includes such prevention strategies as the following:  inclusion of various types of school instruction on aspects of women’s rights; the need to respect human rights; implementation of outreach campaigns to heighten the public’s awareness of intrafamily violence; promoting study of and research into the causes and consequences of violence against women; promoting active involvement on the part of public agencies and civil society entities to ensure that precautionary measures are enforced and the victims protected; and more training of civil servants involved in cases of this type, as well as other areas of intervention.[333]  


262.          Most laws dealing with domestic violence concern physical and psychological violence, while others deal with sexual violence, as in the case of the laws of the Bahamas, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and the United States.  Other countries also include various types of economic violence, such as measures taken by the aggressor to wipe out the victim’s economic means of subsistence and/or damage property that may belong to both or just to the victim, as in the cases of Costa Rica, Honduras, Uruguay and Brazil.  Protecting the victim’s economic interests is vital, since some investigations have revealed that one of the greatest needs expressed by women living in violent relationships is assistance with matters related to the divorce, property and custody of the children.[334]


263.          Some laws on domestic violence in the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean contain clauses that protect the victim’s privacy and the integrity of her person during criminal proceedings.  For example, Jamaica’s domestic violence law provides that the arguments can be heard ex parte, and that provisional orders can be issued before the respondent is notified.  This in itself can be an important preventive measure that affords the victim swift protection.  By law, all matters must be heard in camera[335] to protect the privacy of victims during the proceedings. The Rapporteurship considers such measures essential given that many women wish to protect their privacy during the process. The law also prohibits publication of any proceedings without the court’s permission.  In the case of Saint Lucia, the domestic violence law provides that applications can be heard ex parte and immediately.


264.          The laws differ in terms of which possible relationships between the victim and the aggressor they cover, factoring in a variety of models of what constitutes a family and a relationship.  They also feature a catalogue of protective and precautionary measures that a judge can issue prior to the oral proceedings in order to guarantee the victim’s safety.  They include such measures as finding a safe house for the victim,[336] restoring the victim’s residence to her in the event she has had to flee to escape abuse,[337] ordering the aggressor to leave the shared domicile[338] and protective orders in general, as well as notifying the country’s authorities of the seriousness of the situation.  In the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean, the laws on domestic violence provide that women have a right to request protection orders and the measures associated with those orders.


265.          The laws also include a variety of sanctions against the aggressor, some temporary, others permanent.  These include emergency arrests, fines, alimony, and prison time, depending on what the Penal Code stipulates.  The law can also order the creation of various social services that victims require, among them health services, education, and legal services, and the keeping of records and statistics.  Some laws make provision for alternative mechanisms for settling differences during the legal case, especially mediation and conciliation between the parties, whether mandatory and/or voluntary, as in the cases of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru.


266.          In some countries, the adoption of domestic violence laws has been matched by detailed regulations regarding their enforcement.  For example, in Ecuador a regulation approved for implementation of Law 103 of August 18, 2004[339] includes provisions to improve implementation.  Under this law, amparo measures may remain in effect until the authority that granted amparo relief revokes it.  It also prohibits conciliation/mediation of intrafamily violence issues.  Procedural manuals have been put together for the purpose to providing guidance on the laws’ application.  In Ecuador, for example, the procedural manual for application of Law 103 was designed to be implemented in the intendments, women and family police stations, and the National Police Commissions. 


267.          Many States have adopted laws to address sexual violence, especially criminal laws.  Some have amended their criminal codes to make sexual violence a criminal offense that carries harsher penalties.[340]  Some examples include Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru and the United States.  The main result of these reforms has been the partial elimination of cultural stereotypes that are discriminatory, as well as the prohibition to make inappropriate considerations, such as the honor of victims, their previous sexual history, and their conduct during the judicial process.  Some sexual aggressions have also been characterized as a crime, including rape within marriage in several countries. [341]  Because of these changes in the law, such behaviors are now more likely to be viewed as crimes, instead of threats to the victim’s "honor" and "morality."[342]   Some examples of recent changes to the language of Penal Codes are in Bolivia,[343] Brazil,[344] Ecuador[345] and Argentina.[346]


268.          Similarly, of late a number of States -like Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay- have amended or repealed the provisions that allow rapists to avoid criminal punishment if they marry their victim.  Mexico has recently established that forced sexual relations within marriage constitute rape and, as such, a crime.  There is also a general increase in the criminalization of sexual crimes and rape within marriage, as well as an expansion of the definition and sanction of rape, as in the case of Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. 


269.          Since the early 1990s, around half the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean have introduced a series of amendments to their laws on sexual assault.[347]  The new laws have toughened the penalties for sexual assaults and have made various types of sexual assault more serious criminal offenses, including new crimes as grievous sexual assault and unlawful sexual connection.[348]  Laws are also including measures to protect victims such as the law on sexual offenses of Trinidad and Tobago, amended in 2000, which requires a medical examination of anyone accused of certain sexual offenses.  A number of changes were also made to the way in which the courts conduct hearings in cases involving violence against women, to improve the manner in which victims are treated in court.  Provisions were included to protect the victim’s privacy and, in some cases, the privacy of the accused.


270.          Sexual harassment is one of various forms of sexual violence outlawed in a number of countries,[349] including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru and the United States.  In a number of countries of the English-speaking Caribbean, sexual harassment laws have been passed, although it is not always treated the same.  In the Bahamas and Saint Lucia, sexual harassment is a criminal offense, whereas in Belize it is subject to a specific law.


271.          Some States’ laws draw the link between discrimination and violence against women.  For example, in the case of Ecuador, the June 2005 amendment of the Penal Code stipulates that discrimination on certain grounds may constitute aggravating factors in the commission of sexual offenses, such as: place of birth, age, sex, ethnicity, color, social origin, language, religion, political affiliation, economic status, sexual orientation, sexual health, disability and other differences.  The laws are also beginning to consider the danger of violence that certain groups of women face.  For example, the Chilean law on intrafamily violence requires that the courts order precautionary measures when the victims are pregnant, suffer from some disability or another risk factor.[350]

272.          In the majority of the countries, the law is applied throughout the national territory, although in some countries, the local level also has its own specific laws.  For example, in Mexico’s response to the questionnaire, the State reported that 28 of the 32 federal units have adopted their own laws to prevent and punish domestic violence.  The Civil Code in 21 federal units lists domestic violence as one of the grounds for divorce, and 27 criminalize domestic violence.  In 13 Penal Codes, rape of within marriage is classified as a crime. In Argentina, the promotion of the law to protect women from domestic violence has led to the enactment of laws of this type in a number of jurisdictions throughout the country. 


273.          Within the legislative branch of government, a number of committees have been created to address issues on violence against women and thus influence the legislative process.  These committees include the Commission of Women and Human Development in Peru’s Congress, the Equity and Gender Committees in Mexico’s legislative branch, the Equity and Gender Committee and women’s caucus in Uruguay, and the Legislative Committee for the Family, Women, Children and Adolescents in El Salvador.


274.          The States’ replies to the questionnaire reveal that a number of public policies have been adopted at the national level to address violence against women and its causes, as one means to implement the existing body of laws.  For example, Argentina now has a National Program for Training, Technical Assistance and Awareness of Violence against Women.  This program helps to create and strengthen interdisciplinary teams throughout the country, so as to be able to prevent and/or treat family violence and form inter-institutional and social networks.  This program features a Central Record of Cases of Violence against Women in the context of family relations, with services to prevent and treat violence.  In September 2005, the government of Belize introduced a new Plan of Action to Address Gender-based Violence; the plan for the 2006-2009 period is now being drawn up.


275.          Bolivia has enacted the National Plan of Public Policies to Ensure Full Exercise of Women’s Rights (2004-2007), which includes prevention mechanisms and quality services to treat intrafamily and sexual violence.  In December 2004, the Brazilian Government adopted the National Policy Plan for Women (PNPM), which was the result of the National Conference of Policies for Women, held in June 2004.  This plan takes a comprehensive approach to the problem of gender-based violence to lower the rate of violence and amend Brazilian laws on the subject.  The plan features 31 measures to address violence against women, which include training for professionals, creation of a network of services, distribution of specific laws, research on this issues, and creation of public defender’s offices serving women.  The plan is being analyzed with the municipalities to ensure that it is correctly implemented at the local level.


276.          A number of national programs have been adopted in Chile to prevent the problem of intrafamily violence, such as the National Program and Plan for the Prevention of Intrafamily Violence and the National Plan for Intrafamily Violence Intervention for the 2001-2006 period, which proposes work in six areas:  legislation; communications; promotion and prevention; basic and advanced training; treatment or public services, and research.  In Colombia, the State has adopted a national policy called Women Architects of Peace and Development, the main purpose of which is to gradually achieve equality between men and women in terms of their participation in the social, economic, political and cultural life of the country.  The policy also features as series of target areas, such as employment and entrepreneurial development for women, education and culture, sexual and reproductive health, violence against women and institution-building.


277.          Costa Rica developed its National Plan for Treatment and Prevention of Intrafamily Violence (PLANOVI), which features measures to prevent, raise awareness of, detect and treat intrafamily violence.  It also enlists a variety of public institutions and civil society in this endeavor.  In El Salvador, the Salvadoran Institute for Women’s Development (“ISDEMU”), created in March 1996, is implementing the program called Saneamiento de la Relación Familiar [Making Families Healthy] to provide services to those who are victims of social aggression.  It addresses their needs in the area of physical and mental health, social assistance and legal counsel.


278.          Guatemala has adopted The National Policy for the Promotion and Development of Guatemalan Women, Opportunity Equity Plan, which addresses violence against women and puts into practice the Convention of Belém do Pará and the Beijing Platform for Action.  Its purpose is to transform social and cultural behavioral models that are detrimental to women. Guatemala also has its National Plan for the Prevention of Intrafamily Violence and Violence against Women (PLANOVI 2004-2014).  Mexico has a national program to prevent, punish and/or eradicate violence and discrimination against women, titled National Program for Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination for Women (hereinafter the "Plan Proequidad").  Created by INMUJERES, the goal of the Proequidad Plan is to make the gender perspective part of all regular policies and programs in every sector of the federal government and to encourage new policies and programs.  INMUJERES has also crafted a National Program for a Life Free of Violence, which is an integral part of the Proequidad Plan. 


279.          Panama has a National Plan against Domestic Violence and Citizen Coexistence Policies, whose purpose is to reduce domestic violence and its social, economic and legal consequences.  The plan focuses on promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.  In 1994, Paraguay’s Secretariat for Women’s Affairs launched the National Plan to Prevent and Punish Violence against Women, which is being implemented in coordination with the Second National Plan for Equal Opportunity for Men and Women (2003-2007), the purpose of which is to include gender considerations when crafting, coordinating, executing, monitoring and evaluating public policy.


280.          Two plans have been adopted in Peru to further the advancement of women’s rights:  the National Plan for Equal Opportunity for Men and Women (2006-2010) and the National Plan to Combat Violence against Women (2002-2007).  The National Equal Opportunity Plan has a number of objectives:  to institutionalize the gender perspective, introduce it across all sectors, and promote practices, attitudes and values that do not discriminate against women.   For its part, the goal of the National Plan to Combat Violence is to bring about changes in socio-cultural patterns that condone, legitimize or aggravate violence against women, establish mechanisms, instruments and procedures for preventing violence, protect women, treat women victims, aid their recovery and provide them with prompt and effective reparation.


281.          Venezuela has a National Plan for the Prevention of Violence against Women (2000-2005), prepared by the National Institute of Women, which heads up an inter-institutional committee composed of the Ministry of Interior and Justice, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Health and the Criminal Science and Criminological Investigations Commission (CICPC).  Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis advised the Rapporteurship that they, too, have adopted national plans for the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence against women.


C.         The creation of government programs to address violence and discrimination against women


282.          A variety of state programs and services are available to provide legal, psychological and social services to victims of gender-based violence.  A number of public institutions specialize in delivering services to women victims of violence, including legal advice, psychological counseling, social services, and legal advocacy.  Coverage is both nationwide and local. 


283.          One of the institutions created is the Women and Family Commissions.[351]  The authority and capacity of these stations vary among the various countries of the Americas.[352]  Other such institutions are the programs conducted by the state agencies charged with promoting women’s rights.[353]   It is important to make the point that many of these services are being conducted in partnership with civil society, like nongovernmental organizations that specialize in providing services to victims of violence against women.  Other services created in many countries include hotlines that victims can call for legal advice and psychological counseling,[354] centers that provide information and advisory services on physical and psychological violence, crisis centers, court advisory services, services provided through nongovernmental organizations, and intervention programs that target aggressors in cases of domestic violence.  Good examples of such services can be found in the English-speaking Caribbean.  In Brazil, a special prosecutor’s office has been created within the Office of the Special Secretary for Women’s Affairs.  The function of that office is to respond to and prosecute complaints of violence against women and discrimination cases. 


284.          The Rapporteurship has also been informed of efforts taken by the States to provide judicial services to women victims of violence at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.  In Bolivia, comprehensive legal services, family protection brigades, shelters and the intrafamily violence response and prevention networks have been created at the local level.  According to the information reported by Bolivia’s Office of the Vice Minister for Women’s Affairs, nationwide there are 28 legal clinics, 24 family protection brigades and 53 violence response and prevention networks.  In Brazil, the State has increased the number of Delegacias Especializadas de Atendmiento à Mulher (comparable to the women’s commissions), referral centers and shelters throughout the country. In Venezuela, prefect offices, county offices and civil police stations have been created nationwide to provide care and legal assistance to victims of violence at the municipal level.  In Chile, SERNAM has set up 23 centers to address the problem of violence against women in 13 regions of the country; it planned to have another six centers up and running by March 2006.  The project titled Institution-Building of Local Women’s Rights Organizations has been underway in Ecuador since 2001.  Its purpose is to provide legal counsel to women and youth who are victims of intrafamily violence, offering them guidance on how to exercise their human rights. 


285.          In Colombia, the State has made significant efforts to establish services nationwide for women victims of violence.[355]  Among the most notable are the Family Commissions, the Comprehensive Care Center for Victims of Sex Offenses, Inter-institutional Committees set up within the Ombudsman’s Office to serve victims and survivors of sex offenses, the expanded geographic coverage of the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar [Colombian Institute of Family Wellbeing] centers and the Red de Solidaridad Social [Social Solidarity Network].  In Saint Lucia, community response teams have been established.  These teams instruct volunteer groups in how to provide assistance to victims, especially those living in remote areas, far from the national justice system’s services.  In Peru, 42 emergency centers have been created for women and are specialized public services provided free of charge, delivering comprehensive and multidisciplinary care to victims of family and sexual violence. Ten of these centers are in Lima; the others are in the provinces.  They provide legal advice and psychological counseling to victims.


286.          Other state programs established focus on disseminating information on violence against women and on the existing judicial recourses.  They do this mainly by heightening public awareness of the problem, emphasizing its severity as a human rights violation and triggering an increase in the number of complaints filed.  Many of these campaigns are waged on two key dates:  November 25 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women- and March 8 –International Women’s Day.   In Jamaica, an inter-institutional campaign protesting violence against women and children has been organized with the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and nongovernmental organizations like Woman’s Inc., Crisis Center, SISTREN Theatre Collective, Fathers Incorporated, and Women’s Media Watch participating, with support from United Nations agencies and the Canadian International Development Agency (hereinafter "CIDA").  Brazil’s Special Secretariat on Policies for Women supported a campaign called Una Vida sin Violencia es un Derecho de las Mujeres [A Life Free From Violence Is A Woman’s Right], coordinated by Agende, a nongovernmental organization.  It also spearheaded a campaign in the State of Santa Catarina to repudiate and prevent violence against campesina women, coordinated by the Association of Campesina Women of Santa Catarina.  In the case of Paraguay, the Secretariat for Women’s Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office have concluded an inter-institutional cooperation agreement to promote women’s rights and circulate information about those rights, specifically related to the CEDAW and Law 1600 on Domestic Violence.  That agreement will be implemented nationwide through the offices at the local level.  In Honduras, the National Women’s Institute has created a number of programs for circulating information on the existing laws and targeted at women in different sectors and population groups.  A number of nationwide campaigns have been launched on the radio and in the press in the Dominican Republic, for the purpose of preventing violence against and trafficking of women.


287.          Most States have created special national agencies for the protection of women’s rights; some local-level agencies have also been established.  These institutions and mechanisms vary in terms of their names, operation, composition, authorities, budgets and staff. Some of these institutions have been set up as subdivisions of the ministries of social development, health, and family affairs, while others function as advisory bodies within the executive branch.  The operations of some of these agencies are decentralized, while other national agencies coordinate with their local counterparts.  In addition to these central institutions, a variety of state agencies in the justice system, police, the health sector and international relations also address issues related to women’s human rights.[356]

288.          Apart from the state measures undertaken at the central level, the Rapporteurship has been informed that ombudsmen’s offices in Latin American countries are making gender one of their focus areas of activity.  In many countries, those offices are functioning as autonomous entities in order to better defend rights and promote and circulate information on human rights.  The Rapporteurship has been informed that in many of these offices, gender has become an action area, particularly in cases of violence and discrimination.  Some conduct their investigations on their own initiative or at the request of an affected part, and look into acts or omissions of the government that involve human rights violations.  The IACHR has verified that these offices have played a very important educational role and have served as a bridge between the civil society, the different instances of the States, and State representatives.


289.          The Rapporteurship received information on forms of inter-institutional cooperation that have been created in various countries to better coordinate state measures to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women.  Among these are roundtables and committees whose members include a number of ministries and representatives from various sectors of the government.  They are looking at the issue of gender-based violence in a variety of realms, including education, the justice system and health.  In the Bahamas, for example, the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development has formed a task force on violence against women to bring a coordinated and systematic approach to the areas of health, policy and services.  Chile has a number of projects in progress for intersectoral coordination, among them the Inter-ministerial Commission to Prevent Intrafamily Violence.  Chile’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice and its National Police have concluded cooperation agreements with SERNAM.


290.          Then, too, state agencies charged with promoting and protecting women’s rights are partnering with nongovernmental organizations to provide legal, psychological and social services to victims of violence against women.  Indeed, a number of national and local networks to promote coordination and the exchange of statistical and qualitative information on the problem of gender-based violence and provide services to women victims of violence were created in Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the United States.


291.          Finally, a number of States reported on their efforts to create centralized systems for compiling nationwide data on violence against women.  For example, a pilot system has been established in the Dominican Republic for compiling information on intrafamily violence.  The Secretariat of State for Women’s Affairs and nongovernmental organizations are involved.  In its response to the questionnaire, the State observed that for now, the figures that the state institutions are providing do not fully capture the magnitude of the problem of violence against women, because many cases are never reported.[357]  Furthermore, variables like rape and a woman’s mental health are not reflected in the figures. [358]  This challenges the task of designing and executing measures that are effective in helping to reduce these problems.[359]


292.          Other commendable efforts include the creation of centralized data systems. With UNICEF’s cooperation, Argentina’s National Women’s Council launched a National Training, Technical Assistance and Awareness Program on Violence against Women, one element of which is to create a centralized record of cases involving violence against women.  Participating in the project are 50 services nationwide.  The purpose of the register is to produce information that reveals, among other variables, the profile of the informant population, their history of intrafamily violence, the degree of danger they face at the time of the consultation, their fear of using the services and their socioeconomic profile.  In Brazil, the Special Secretariat for Women’s Policies is developing a National Gender Reporting System, which compiles information from a variety of sources on the issues that are the Secretariat’s priorities in the areas of labor, economics, health, education and violence against women.  In Mexico, INMUJERES is cooperating with the National Institute of Statistics to compile adequate data on incidents of violence against women.  Two surveys have been conducted and have compiled significant figures on these incidents of violence in the country.  These include the National Survey of Household Relations and the Survey on Intrafamily Violence.


293.          Various States informed the Rapporteurship of their efforts standardize the forms used to compile data on incidents of violence against women, to ensure greater uniformity in the data compiled and to break down the data by variables like sex, race and ethnicity, variables that are glaringly absent in current efforts to compile official information.  In Guatemala, for example, the State reported that a single form has been created for compiling data on intrafamily violence.  Its purpose is to break down the information by sex, age, ethnicity, marital status, and so on.  Governmental and nongovernmental organizations that defend and protect women’s rights teamed up to develop and agree upon the form.  The standardized form will be used by a variety of public institutions, among them the public prosecutor’s office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the Director General of the National Civil Police, family courts, legal clinics, and the Office of the Prosecutor for Human Rights.  These institutions currently keep records of all complaints of intrafamily violence, and send the information to the National Institute of Statistics.  Belize also has a Gender-Based Violence Record Form, which a variety of sectors, health among them, are using. 




[317] IACHR, Violence and Discrimination against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia, OEA/Ser/L/V/II. 124/Doc.6, October 18, 2006, para. 229.

[318] IACHR, Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas, OEA/SER.L/V/II.98, doc. 17, October 13, 1998, Section III.

[319] Supreme Court of Justice, Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal, Gender Bias in the Administration of Justice, Dr. Emilse Ardaya, Supreme Court Justice, Dr. Elisabeth Iñiguez, Justice on the Constitutional Bench, the Centro Juana Azurduy and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency. 

[320] Supreme Court of Justice of Paraguay, Myrna Arrúa de Sosa, Obstáculos para el Acceso a la Justicia de la Mujer Víctima de Violencia en Paraguay [Obstacles Impairing Access to Justice in the Case of Women Victims of Violence in Paraguay], 2005.

[321] Presentation by Tracy Robinson, Access to Justice for Women Who Are Victims of Violence in the Caribbean, Meeting of Experts:  Protection of Women’s Rights in the Inter-American System: A Review of Access to Justice, April 19-20, 2005, Washington DC, headquarters of the IACHR; see also, ECLAC UNIFEM, Eliminating Gender-Based Violence, Ensuring Equality: ECLAC/UNIFEM Regional Assessment of Actions to End Violence Against Women in the Caribbean (ECLAC, 2003). Families and Children’s Act 1998 (Belize); Child Protection Act 1998 (Grenada); Probation and Child Welfare Act (St. Kitts-Nevis); The Children Amendment Act (Trinidad and Tobago).

[322] ECLAC (2001). An Evaluative Study of the Implementation of Domestic Violence Legislation: Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

[323] ECLAC/CDCC/CIDA, Regional Conference on gender-based violence and the administration of justice, February 2003, Port-of-Spain, available online at:

[324] Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Coahuila, the Federal District, Michoacán, Morelos, Veracruz and Zacatecas.

[325] IACHR, Violence and Discrimination against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia,  OEA/Ser/L/V/II. 124/Doc.6, October 18, 2006, para. 218.

[326] Response from Zarella Villanueva Monge, Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica to the IACHR questionnaire on Access to Justice of Women in the Americas, May 30, 2005.

[327] Corporación Sisma Mujer, Informe Justicia de Género: Entre el Conflicto Armado y las Reformas a la Justicia, Colombia 2001-2004 [Justice and Gender: Between Armed Conflict and Justice Reforms, Colombia 2001-2004], p. 16.

[328] See, for example, the Constitutional Court judgments  C 588 of 1992, C 622 of 1997, C710/96 – C470/97, C372 of 1998, C 098 of 1996, C 285 of 1997 and C 410 of  1994; C 481 of 1998, C 623 of 1998, C 507 of 1999, C 477 of 1997, C 112 of 2000, C 011 of 2002, C 092 of 2002, C 154 of 2002, C 157 of 2002, C 198 of 2002, C 578 of 2002, C 1033 of 2002, C 016 of 2004, C 102 of 2004, and others.

[329] IACHR, Violence and Discrimination against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia, OEA/Ser/L/V/II. 124/Doc.6, October 18, 2006; IACHR, Annual Report for 1999, chapter on “Considerations Regarding the Compatibility of Affirmative Action Measures Designed to Promote the Political Participation of Women with the Principles of Equality and Non-discrimination,” Chapter VI; IACHR, Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas, OEA/SER.L/V/II.98, doc. 17, October 13, 1998.

[330] This year the United Nations General Assembly urged the States to nominate women for membership on the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure equal representation to each sex.  United Nations, General Assembly, A/RES/60/149, February 21, 2006.

[331] The Rapporteurship received information highlighting the success of the CARICOM model in promoting the adoption of different types of legislation in the region, including domestic violence, amendment of sexual offenses laws, sexual harassment and creation of family courts.  See information available online at:

[332] Among the laws adopted are Antigua and Barbuda: Domestic Violence (Summary Proceedings) Act (1999); Argentina: Law No. 25.087 amending the Penal Code (1999); Law No. 24.417, "Protection against Family Violence" (1994); Bahamas: Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act (1991); Barbados: Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act (1992), Sexual Offenses Act (1992); Belize: Domestic Violence Act (1992); Bolivia: Law No. 1674, "Law against Domestic and Family Violence" (1995); Law 2033 of Protection to Victims from Crimes against Sexual Liberty (1999); modifies the Penal Code about crimes of sexual violence (1997); Brazil: Law 11.340 on domestic or intrafamily violence (August 7, 2006);  Canada: Law 4635 related to equal opportunity for men and women; although the Penal Code contains no provision for a specific crime classified as intrafamily violence, the batterer or abuser can face a variety of criminal charges for violation of  laws criminalizing various behaviors, such as sexual abuse; Chile: Law No. 20.066, Law of Intrafamily Violence (2005); Colombia:   Law 294 to Prevent, Remedy and Punish Intrafamily Violence (1996); Law 360 on Crimes against Sexual Freedom and Human Dignity (1997); Law 575, partially amending Law 294 (2000); Costa Rica: Law 7142 on Promotion of Women’s Social Equality, Chapter 4, 1990; Law 7586 against Domestic Violence (1996); Dominica: Sexual Offenses Act (1992); Dominican Republic: Law 24-97 criminalizing domestic violence, sexual harassment and incest (1997); Ecuador: Law prohibiting Violence Against Women and Family (1995);   El Salvador: Decree Law 902 against Intrafamily Violence (1996); Guatemala: Law 97-96 to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Intrafamily Violence, Congressional Decree 7-99 "Law for the Dignity and Advancement of Women" (1999); Guyana: Domestic Violence Act (1996);   Honduras: Law for the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, Decree 132-97; Jamaica: Law on Domestic Violence (1995);   Mexico: Law on Prevention of Family Violence and Provision of Related Assistance for Distrito Federal (1996); Decree to reform the Civil Code and Penal Code on the matter of intrafamily violence and rape (1997); Nicaragua: Law containing amendments and additions to the Penal Code (1996); Panama:  Law 38 on Domestic Violence (2001); Law No. 27 on Intrafamily Violence Offenses and Child Abuse (1995); Law No. 4 “Equal Opportunity for Women”(1999); Paraguay: Law 1600/00 on Intrafamily Violence (2000); Peru: Law 26260, establishing the policy of the State and society vis-à-vis domestic violence (1993); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Domestic Violence/Matrimonial Proceedings Act (1984) and the Domestic Violence Summary Proceedings Act; Saint Lucia: Domestic Violence Summary Proceedings Act (1995);  Trinidad and Tobago:  Act No. 10 Domestic Violence Act (1999); United States: Public Law 103-322 -  Title IV, Violence Against Women Act (1994); Uruguay: Law 16707  on Citizen Safety, which adds the legal figure of domestic violence and amends the Penal Code regarding violence (1995); Law 17514 on Domestic Violence (2002); Venezuela: Law on Violence against Women and the Family (2000).

[333] Law 902 against intrafamily violence, 1996, Article 6.

[334] World Bank, Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Latin America and Caribbean Region : A Critical Review of Interventions, Andrew Morrison, Mary Ellsberg, Sarah Bott, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3438, October 2004, p. 16, citing Guedes, Alessandra, et al. 2002, Gender-Based Violence, Human Rights, and the Health Sector: Lessons from Latin America, Health and Human Rights. 6(1), pp. 177-194.

[335] Hearings held before the judge in his or her private chambers or when the public is excluded from the courtroom.

[336] See, for example, Article 39.2 (Venezuela); Article 309-6 (Dominican Republic).

[337] See, for example, Article 39.4 (Venezuela); Article 6 (d) (Paraguay); Article 10.2 (Uruguay).

[338] See, for example, Article 39 (Venezuela); Article 6 (Paraguay); Article 3(a) (Argentina); Article 3(h) (Chile); Article 5(a) (Colombia); Article 309-6 (Dominican Republic); and Article 10 (Uruguay).

[339] Executive Decree No. 1982 (August 18, 2004).

[340] See, as examples, Law 25.087 (1999), amending the Penal Code to include crimes of sexual violence (Argentina); Law 1674, amending the Penal Code on the matter of sex offenses  (1997) and Law 2033, which protects victims of this crime (Bolivia); Law 360 on Crimes against Sexual Freedom and Human Dignity (1997) (Colombia); Law 19.617, which amends the Penal Code on the subject of sex offenses  (1999) (Chile); Law 105, which amends the Penal Code on the subject of sex offenses  (Ecuador);  a 1998 amendment of the Penal Code to include crimes involving sexual violence  (El Salvador);  1997 amendment of the Penal Code where sexual violence is defined as a “public order crime” (Honduras); a 1989 reform of the Penal Code, which introduced a more severe penalty for the crime of rape (Mexico); Law  27.115 which requires public criminal prosecution of offenses against sexual freedom (Peru); Law 24-97, criminalizing domestic violence, violence against women, sexual harassment and incest in 1997 (Dominican Republic).

[341] Elizabeth Guerrero, Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean 1990-2000: An Assessment of a Decade, Isis Internacional, Santiago, Chile, April 2002, p. 18; Tamayo, Giulia, (2000) Derechos humanos de las mujeres, violencia contra la mujeres y la paz en la región [Women’s human rights, violence against women and peace in the region].  A review of the progress and challenges in the five years since the Fourth World Conference on Women.  Report prepared by CLADEM for “Something more than words… mechanisms, resources and gender justice in the XXI century.” Regional Meeting of Latin American and Caribbean NGOs  in preparation for Beijing+5. Lima, February 5-7, 2000.

[342] Elizabeth Guerrero, Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean 1990-2000: An Assessment of a Decade, Isis Internacional, Santiago, Chile, April 2002, p. 18.

[343] In Bolivia, Law 2033 of October 29, 1999, Ley de Protección a las Víctimas de Delitos Contra la Libertad Sexual [Law to Protect Victims of Crimes against Sexual Freedom] increased the Judgment for rape to 5 to 15 years, whereas it had been 4 to 10 years.  The law also eliminated the phrase “decent women.”  

[344] In February 2005, Brazil’s Penal Code was amended to remove the expression “decent women.” 

[345] The Ecuadorian Penal Code was amended on June 1, 2005, to remove the expression “decent women” and replace it with the word “victim”; in the case of sexual crimes, the language “attack on decency” was replaced with the expression “sexual abuse”; no exceptional circumstances will be considered to reduce Judgments in sexual crimes, such as the accused turning himself in voluntarily or cooperating with the authorities in the investigation of the crime. 

[346] Language like “purity,” “chastity,” “decency” of the victims and “decent women” has been struck from the Argentine law on sexual violence.   

[347] Sexual Offences Act 1995 (Antigua and Barbuda); Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act 1991 (Bahamas); Sexual Offences Act 1992, Cap 154 (Barbados), Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 1999 (Belize); Sexual Offences Act 1998 (Dominica); Sexual Offence and Domestic Violence Act 1991 (Bahamas); Sexual Offences Act 1998 (Dominica); Sexual Offences Act 1986, Amendment Act 2000 (Trinidad and Tobago).

[348] Presentation by Tracy Robinson, Professor of Law, University of the West Indies, Barbados,  Access to Justice for Women Who Are Victims of Violence in the Caribbean, Meeting of Experts: Protection of Women’s Rights in the Inter-American System:  A Review of Access to Justice, April 19-20, 2005, Washington DC, IACHR headquarters.

[349] See, for example, Law 10.224, which amends Brazil’s Penal Code to add sexual harassment (Brazil); Law 105 which amended the Penal Code to include sexual harassment in the workplace (Ecuador); in 1998, the Penal Code was amended to include sexual harassment (El Salvador); in 1997 the Penal Code was amended to include sexual harassment (Honduras); Law 1.160 amended the Penal Code to criminalize sexual harassment (1997) (Paraguay); Law 27.942 on Sexual Harassment Prevention (2003) (Peru); Law 24-97 which criminalizes sexual harassment (Dominican Republic); in the United States, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex, and a violation of Section VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964).  Section VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state or local government.  It also applies to state agencies and labor organizations, and to the federal government; Decree 2385/93 prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector (Argentina); Law 20.005 that includes and sanctions sexual harassment (Chile).   

[350] Guatemala, for its part, has made discrimination a criminal offense. See Decree 57 (2002).

[351] Good examples can be found in Ecuador, where 30 have been created in 17 provinces, and Honduras, where such police stations have been established across the country and staffed with multidisciplinary service teams.

[352] For an evaluation of the work of the women’s police stations, Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean 1990-2000: An Assessment of a Decade, Isis Internacional, Santiago, Chile, April 2002, p. 23.

[353] The following are examples of these programs:  in Jamaica a support unit for victims of violence against women has been created and operates under the Ministry of National Security; in Paraguay, the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Women’s Affairs has set up services to assist women victims of intrafamily violence and a referral center for trafficking victims.

[354] Some examples of these programs can be found in Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico and Venezuela.  In Mexico, for example, INMUJERES has created a telephone hotline program called “Life Without Violence” and  in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a telephone hotline has also been established called “línea mujeres.”  In Venezuela, the State has created a nationwide, toll-free hotline worked by psychologists and attorneys who specialize in offering services to women victims of domestic violence.  Since its establishment in November 2004, a total of 14,563 calls have been taken: 100% of those who call in say they are the victims of psychological violence; 74.51% report being the victims of physical violence.

[355] Report by the State of Colombia on Application of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and the results of the Twenty-third Special Session of the General Assembly (2000), Alvaro Uribe Vélez, President of the Republic, Carolina Barco Isackson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Martha Lucia Vázquez Zawadsky, Office of the Presidential Advisor for Equity for Women, Bogotá, May 2004, p. 125.

[356] The Rapporteurship learned that the following specific agencies have been created: Antigua and Barbuda (Directorate of Gender Affairs); Argentina (National Women’s Council); the Bahamas (Bureau of Women’s Affairs); Belize (Department of Women’s Affairs and the National Women’s Commission); Bolivia (Office of the Vice Minister of Women); Brazil (Office of the Special Secretary for Women’s Policies); Colombia (Office of the Presidential Advisor on Women’s Affairs); Costa Rica (National Women’s Institute); Dominican Republic (Office of the Secretary of State for Women’s Affairs); Ecuador (National Council of Women); El Salvador (ISDEMU); Guatemala (Office of the Presidential Secretary for Women’s Affairs, the Office of the First Lady’s Secretary for Social Works, and the National Coordinator for the Prevention of Intrafamily Violence and Violence against Women); Honduras (National Women’s Institute); Mexico (National Women’s Institute); Panama (Office of the National Director of Women’s Affairs of the Ministry for Social Development); Nicaragua (Nicaraguan Women’s Institute); Paraguay (Office of the Presidential Secretary for Women’s Affairs); Peru (Ministry of Women and Social Development); St. Kitts and Nevis (Bureau of Women’s Affairs); Saint Lucia (Gender Relations Division within the Ministry of Health); United States (Office on Violence against Women, Department of Justice);  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Gender Affairs Division); and Venezuela (National Institute of Women).

[357] Reply from the Dominican Republic to the IACHR questionnaire about the Situation of Access to Justice for Women in the Americas, October 31, 2005.

[358] Reply from the Dominican Republic to the IACHR questionnaire about the Situation of Access to Justice for Women in the Americas, October 31, 2005.

[359] Reply from the Dominican Republic to the IACHR questionnaire about the Situation of Access to Justice for Women in the Americas, October 31, 2005.