Venezuela Hosts UNDP Conference on Violence Against Women
Thursday, May 14, 2009 4:45 PM

Venezuela’s National Institute of Women (INAMUJER) and the recently created Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality sponsored a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) World Conference on Gender Violence last month in Caracas. An important part of the conference concerned men’s role in gender violence and strategies for changing attitudes and behavior. Some 60 international experts attended the conference.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, David McLachlan-Kerr, coordinator of UNDP in Venezuela, praised the progressive Law on the Right of Women to a LIfe Free of Violence, and stated “Venezuela is one of the most advanced countries in Latin America in the struggle to eradicate violence against women and for gender equality.” 

Since passage of the law in 2007, reported cases of violence against women have tripled. In 2005, NGOs carried out a study which documented 36,777 official complaints of violence against women. Since 2007, the public prosecution office has received 101,750 complaints. “The number of accusations has increased for one main reason:  now [women] know the law supports them, that it guarantees their rights, and they know that special courts exist that can treat their cases” said Yolanda Jaimes, a magistrate in the Supreme Court, speaking at the conference. There are 29 courts for violence against women in the country, with 20 slated for completion in 2009. Jaimes recognized that these courts were congested, and that courts do not exist in all states.

Maria Leon, minister for Women and Gender Equality, and president of INAMUJER called for the eradication of exploitation of women by men and the development of policies of equality. INAMUJER has launched a project called “The Construction of a New Masculinity” which aims to incorporate men into the struggle to end violence against women. 

There is still much work to be done before the Venezuelan laws against gender violence are effectively implemented. For example, though the law stipulates at least one shelter or safe house for women in each of the country’s 23 states and the capital district, only two were established, one in Caracas and another in the adjacent state of Aragua. Already, the Aragua shelter has been closed because of serious operational issues.

Compiled from:  Marquez, Humberto, “Rights-Venezuela:  No Shelter for Women,” 6 March 2009, IPS;  Pearson, Tamara, “Venezuela Expands Outlets for Denunciations of Violence Against Women,” 23 April 2009,“Call on the Government of Venezuela to Protect Women’s Rights”, 24 February 2009, Amnesty International.