|Women against Violence: Breaking the Silence (UNIFEM, 1997, 116 p.)|
|Beyond the Conventions: Violence Prevention in the Andean Region|
Under the leadership of the MarGuare Foundation, an NGO specializing in violence prevention, systematic data on violence against women in now being gathered for the first time. Regular bulletins publicize court decisions along with information about various aspects of violence, based on the charges made in the court. The information has substantiated two claims: that domestic violence is a social problem, and that most victims are women. Not only were 96 percent of those presenting complaints women, 82 percent of cases of aggression happened within the home, and victims have been of all ages (with the greatest number of cases between 16 and 35 years).
Each time a bulletin comes out, the media broadcast its data, keeping their audiences up to date with accurate figures about a problem that people have talked about, but had not adequately denounced. Anunziatta Valdez, MarGuare Foundation president, explains: "making violence visible is the data bank's fundamental strategy, making domestic and sexual violence against women, girls and boys known so that it will no longer be permissible".
Data recorded on report sheets reflect socio-economic and cultural aspects of the person presenting the claim, the type and place of aggression, relationship between the victim and aggressor, including reactions to the violent action, and consequences in the family's life. These data, systematized by the computer software, are ordered as graphs and charts for publication. Most importantly, the data permit a detailed reading, cross-referencing variables to analyze the problem, with an eye to broader policies to prevent violence against women.
After two years, the Data Bank has become an indispensable complement to the Court, and the only way that the citizenry can learn of the magnitude of this social problem and think about measures to eradicate it. Its information can help both government and international agencies design policies to improve the situation of women and children. It has influenced the other four Women and Family Courts in Ecuador to include statistical information as an essential element of their operations, and the government to plan to set up a nation-wide data bank.
However, the real obstacles to reducing violence against women are the lack of importance the state gives the Women and Family Courts, much less to systematizing data on violence against women. Official statistics ignore these realities, because official agencies care little about preventing violence against women, as reflected in the lack of budget allocations.