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British embassy sponsors workshops to educate legal system about violence against women

The laws are on the books to protect Ecuadorian women and girls from violence, women’s rights advocates say. The problem is that the country’s legal system is not enforcing them.

British Ambassador to Ecuador Katherine Ward

Insisting that her government wants to raise the consciousness of the legal system to fight gender violence, British Ambassador to Ecuador Katherine Ward opened a four-day seminar Tuesday in Cuenca by saying that the effort requires a change in cultural attitudes. “Violence against women is a worldwide problem but resistance to enforcing the laws that could stop it are greater in Latin American countries, including Ecuador,” she said. “We believe that overcoming this resistance can be accomplished through educating and training legal professionals.”

The Cuenca seminar, titled The Criminal Justice Response to Gender Violence in Ecuador, is the first of two being sponsored by the British embassy in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The second will be held in Guayaquil in March.

“We are fighting against the ingrained machismo attitude in this country that says violence against women and girls is acceptable and that teaches women, from childhood, that they must accept abuse,” said María Dolores Miño, director of the Observatory for Rights and Justice. “The first objective in accomplishing this must be changing the attitudes of those who work in the legal system — police officers, prosecutors, public defenders, judges and prison officials. We must do this so the law be enforced.”

Miño is one of the presenters in the seminar workshops to train police and court system personnel about their responsibility in enforcing the laws. Among seminar sessions are ones that review existing laws, the psychology of gender violence, reporting of violent incidents, investigation process and procedures, interaction between victims with law enforcement and methods of changing community attitudes.

According to Leonardo Amoroso, Azuay Province chief prosecutor, six out of 10 Ecuadorian women will be victims of violence during their lives, with one in four suffering rape. “This is a plague that must be cured and we must understand that finding a solution begins in the home,” he said. “Sixty-nine percent of gender violence happens within the family and this is why we must change cultural attitudes.”

9 thoughts on “British embassy sponsors workshops to educate legal system about violence against women

  1. It isn’t just laws against violence toward women that aren’t being enforced. It is a wide range of felonies and misdemeanors, from traffic violations to armed robbery and assault. For some reason, which I don’t understand, there is reluctance by authorities to do anything punitive toward law breakers. (And yes there are exceptions.)

    1. Unfortunately, I have to agree. While I deplore violence, especially violence against vulnerable members of society, it’s the norm in Ecuador for the police to look the other way unless there is an ancillary issue at play.

  2. So, so glad to hear about this and hope it impacts the men to do not provide the consequences for harm to women. I agree that laws in general are not enforced which makes society a danger ofr all people. This cultural attitude has to change!

    1. the problem in the culture here is that most doesn’t get reported so isn’t included in your stats. my wife is ecuadorian and hashorror stories. police here have never been interested.

  3. What I’ve seen happen is the woman/wife gets beat by her man/husband. The cops get called. They arrive to see her bloody nose, bruised face, and ask if she wants the man arrested. She says no, and the cops go back to their office. Is it because she feels like she deserved the beating? Or, is it because while her man’s in jail there’s no income for the family? It might also be because she knows that jail time won’t change his behavior once he’s out. Maybe the only real solution is divorce, which is a drastic measure, a very tough decision for most Ecuadorian women for many reasons, especially for those women living in the campo.
    I see the same type of dilemma when the man is a drunk. Actually, a lot of times that’s when the beatings start. I’ll ask myself, why does the woman put up with it? I don’t believe it’s because she hopes someday he’ll change. It’s because she has no alternative. There might be some temporary separation, but divorce is not an option for her. Very sad.

    1. Yours is such a thoughtful reply, Lorenzo. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts.
      The Guardian has a column that contributes additional info:
      “There is a toxic question that surrounds abused women: “why didn’t she just leave him?” The answer, too often, is that many women that do leave get killed… anywhere between 50% and 75% of domestic violence homicides happen at the point of separation or after [the victim] has already left [her abuser],” says Cynthia Hill, director of HBO’s Private Violence.”

    2. Lorenzo, There’s one more aspect to consider. There WILL be repercussions if the woman says yes. It could include MORE abuse, or even death, when he has access to her again. Protection from that MUST be considered by the judicial and social systems as well, because they can’t control what happens behind closed doors. If one has never been beaten, then that person has no clue how horrible and effective it can be. Imagining is not even close to experiencing. Every time you are terrified you are going to die.

    3. I grew up in Pakistan where the violence against women is as frequent as n any Latin country // You know what slowed it down // Harsh punishment including long jail time //when there is sign of physical abuse police will not ask women but arrest the man no matter what or what not she says / It has not eliminated the cancer of violence but slowed it .

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