To stem the rampant levels of domestic violence that afflict Latin American women, five international organizations have backed a plan that will establish networks of prevention and rehabilitation for survivors of psychological and physical abuse. The ground-breaking plan will include home visits by nurses and social workers to those who are at risk or have already experienced abuse, as well as violence prevention seminars and educational programs. Between 10 and 30 percent Latin American women suffer physical violence at the hands of their husbands, according to a study by the Prevention of Violence at the Pan-American Health Organization. In urban cities such as Cali, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, and Caracas, over fifty percent of the women questioned admitted to having suffered domestic violence.
The effect of domestic violence on women is devastating, according to Dr. Pamela Hartigan, the acting director at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department for Violence and Non-Intentional Injury Prevention. “Abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, eating problems and sexual dysfunction,” she remarked. In addition to the mental and physical health consequences, survivors of domestic violence are less likely to earn money. In one city in Nicaragua, “abused women earned 46 percent less than women who did not suffer abuse, even after controlling for other factors that affect earning,” Hartigan pointed out.