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Tita Yanez

Mrs. Greene- 7th Period


Capstone
19 October, 2016
Domestic Violence in Latin America
Domestic violence occurs in all regions throughout the world and impacts the culture and
society where it is largely rooted. In Latin America, domestic violence has become so deeply
ingrained in peoples lifestyles that it is often not recognized as a problem. Violence in Latin
American homes has allowed for aggressive behavior to become the norm in society; most
victims and perpetrators no longer recognize the damage of their actions within the family nor
how it affects the community as a whole.
Domestic violence has become so everyday in Latin America that people fail to recognize
that this is a crime. A study on domestic violence was conducted in Colombia and Guatemala in
order to examine the role this violence played within these communities. Of the people
interviewed, women were more candid than men because men were less likely to recognize
this as a form of violence (Moser and McIlwaine). This allows for people to become
desensitized to abuse that occurs within homes. Perpetrators of violence will feel entitled to
abusing their victims and may even convince themselves that it is their duty to do so. In some
areas honor [is] used as a justification for violence and formal customs and legal traditions
have often developed that sanction or excuse such violence (Cohen and Vandello). The
normification of this abuse leaves victims feeling helpless as they reside not only in a home that
permits this crime but also in a nation that justifies it.
As domestic violence is not considered to be an unusual and punishable crime by many

people residing in this region, it is surprising to know that changes in the legal systems have
occurred in order to begin combating this highly prevalent issue in Latin America . In fact,
during these past 20 years, advocacy and intervention for battered women and their families has
been expanded to include changes in the legal and mental health systems to better accommodate
the complexities of domestic violence(Walker). This is a huge step in Latin America because it
shows that the misogynistic views that have dominated these patriarchal societies are beginning
to change. The people are beginning to realize that there is no valid reason for this abuse to occur
and that victims are in need of systems in place that will work to their benefit.
Sadly, there is still a lot of work that must be done in order for these legal practices to
fully bring about the desired effects. A feminist scholar in Latin America pointed out the issue
that the criminal justice system is centred on the State, which is cast as the offended party. The
victim is thus relegated to being a mere witness to her own abuse(Macaulay). This belittles the
abuse the victim has faced and doesnt allow them the rights they deserve as they are listed as a
merewitness. In addition, the criminal justice system is more concerned with due process and
the assignment of blame and punishment. This makes it slow and focused on prosecution, rather
than with the victims immediate need for protection (Macaulay). This is not only inefficient,
but it also places the victim in a dangerous position. Victims are more likely to be abused or even
killed after they report their batterer to authorities. While their claim gets processed, victims are
exposed and unprotected, and as the ruling of the court gets dragged out, perpetrators are more
and more likely to come after the victim. Another disheartening factor is that despite making the
victims wait so long for an answer, a courts ruling usually does not initially condemn or jail the
batterer. Instead, the courts long-term desire [is] for the violence to cease and for pacic family

relations to be restored, and as a result, a number of countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,


Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia) [make] conciliation between the two parties in
conict an obligatory rst stage and primary aim of court intervention
(Macaulay). This conciliation period is usually ineffective and only provides perpetrators another
opportunity to get at their victim- whether it be physically or psychologically. Although Latin
American nations are advancing in the right direction, they are still in need of reform in order to
bring justice to perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Despite the fact that many people dont criminalize domestic violence as they should,
most realize the negative effects this violence has on individuals and the community. The
primary people to notice this are surprisingly children. When children in Guatemala and
Colombia were interviewed. in both countries... family by its very nature was often perceived as
a violent institution (Moser and McIlwaine). This not only brings about unsteady family
relationships, but it can also destroy a childs trust in his parents. This study also showed that
children are more likely to face danger within their own home than on the streets.
Because the crime is perpetrated most often by a father, stepfather, grandfather, brother, uncle,
or another male relative in a position of trust, the rights of the child are usually sacrificed in
order to protect the name of the family and that of the adult perpetrator.

Works Cited
Cohen, Dov, and Joseph Vandello A. "Male Honor and Female Fidelity: Implicit
Cultural Scripts That Perpetuate Domestic Violence." Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology 84.5 (2003): 997-1010. Research Gate. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.
Macaulay, Fiona. Judicialising and (de) Criminalising Domestic Violence in Latin
America. Social Policy and Society 5 (2006): 103-114
Moser, Caroline O. N., and Cathy McIlwaine. "The Family as a Violent Institution and the
Primary Site of Social Violence." Encounters with Violence in Latin America: Urban
Poor Perceptions from Colombia and Guatemala. New York: Routledge, 2004. 99-116.
Web. 10 Oct. 2016.
Walker, Lenore E. "Psychology and Domestic Violence Around the World." American
Psychology 54.1 (1999): 21-29. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.