Panic button for VAW victims in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina

12:04 Sep 20 2013 Montevideo, Uruguay

National and local governments in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have handed out panic buttons to women with restraining orders against abusive former partners. When triggered, the devices use GPS technology to help the police track down the victim quickly.

A recent report by UN Women, a UN agency, found that many Latin American countries have a higher-than-average incidence of domestic violence. According to the agency, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. In Colombia attacks in which acid is thrown at women’s faces, disfiguring them, nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2012. Of the 25 countries in the world that are “high” or “very high” in the UN’s ranking for “femicides” (killings of women that seem to be related to their sex), more than half are in the Americas, with El Salvador the worst in the world.

Machismo has deep cultural roots in the region, and will take decades to disappear. Meanwhile, women have the right to expect that their governments act more vigorously to turn well-intentioned laws into tools to prevent and punish the violence they often face.
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