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UN warns Uruguay over rise in gender violence

Womens’ rights groups protest in Montevideo on Monday after a women died from injuries suffered in an attack by her partner.

Expresses concerns after 10 women killed by partners in first eight weeks of this year

MONTEVIDEO — The local arm of the United Nations (UN) in Uruguay yesterday raised alarms over the amount of women murdered in the country so far this year. Groups campaigning against domestic and sexual violence also expressed concern, particularly at the lack of legislation designed to fully protect women.

According to the UN, Uruguay ranks first in Latin America for the number of women killed by their partner or ex-partner. The figures appear in a report published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) in 2014.

“The United Nations in Uruguay expresses shock at the 10 women murdered in the the first eight weeks of 2015, which have been perpetrated mostly by partners and former partners,” the organization said in a statement.

“Despite the significant progress in the implementation of public policies against gender violence, every new murder reveals what remains to be done to eradicate violence against women in Uruguay and achieve the necessary cultural change to ensure true gender equality,” it added.

“We want assistance for victims of gender violence to extend to all of the regions in the country. There are currently two provinces which still don’t have it,” Rosana Medina, a doctor of law and social sciences from the ONG Mujer Ahora (Women Now), told the Herald.

“It’s a longstanding problem in Uruguay, but official data about domestic violence only began to be collected in 2004,” she added.

Medina, however, pointed out that the Uruguayan government had taken on more responsibility to combat the problem in recent years, citing the creation of the National Women’s Institute.

Shortcomings

However, the lawyer and activist criticized the Domestic Violence Act which was passed in mid-2002, saying it has several shortcomings.

“The law does not comprehensively cover violence against women. It doesn’t cover, for example, media violence and sexual harassment at work,” she said. “That’s why we still need more legislation.”

So far there is no parliamentary bill for making the Domestic Violence Act more comprehensive. The discussion is still at the preliminary stage among human rights organizations.

Some see the law as the Uruguayan government’s outright commitment to combating domestic violence, while critics label it as largely rhetorical.

In 1995 Uruguay officially recognized domestic violence in its penal code and ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against women in 1996.

The UN statement recalled a national report on domestic violence in 2013 that revealed seven out of 10 Uruguayan women had suffered some form of domestic violence at some point in their lives.

This represents more than 650,000 women at all socioeconomic and educational levels.

“We express our condolences to the families of the dead and trust the joint efforts of everybody in Uruguayan society to put an end to violence and discrimination and promote of a culture of human rights and gender equality,” the statement concluded.

The last of the series of femicides occurred on Tuesday when a 80-year-old man attacked his 86-year-old wife and then shot her dead.

The murdet took place in the city of Río Branco, which is 420km northeast of Montevideo and is on the border with Brazil.

A rally was held in the capital on Monday after the death of Gabriela Fernández Silveyra Silvana, who died on Saturday from the injures that her partner had inflicted on her.

The protest was organized by feminist activists on Facebook with the slogan: “You touch one of us you touch all of us.”

Herald with AP, online media

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