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WI-HER News2017-01-03T09:57:44+00:00
1012, 2018

Criminalization of Human Trafficking Victims

By: Razan Farmand  Human trafficking is a devastating global issue. Despite its universal reach, human trafficking takes place locally— in nail salon or a favorite restaurant; in a neighborhood home or popular hotel; on a city street or urban farm. The United States government has passed legislation and executive orders to combat human trafficking globally by requiring U.S. contractors and subcontractors to act affirmatively to prevent human trafficking and forced labor when working abroad. Domestically, Congress enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000; which established several methods of prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking, and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking. Since its enactment, all fifty states have passed laws that criminalize human trafficking and many have task forces dedicated to implementing policies and procedures to combat it. The next step is for those fifty states to enact and implement laws that protect victims from criminal prosecution for acts they were forced to commit. Victims of modern slavery, whether children or adults, should not be held criminally responsible for their involvement in unlawful activities that are a direct consequence of their victimization. For years, the Trafficking in Persons Report has detailed the importance of protecting victims of human trafficking throughout the law enforcement process. Traffickers often compel victims to engage in criminal activities such as prostitution, pick-pocketing, drug trafficking and even kidnapping by recruiting other victims. Law enforcement authorities often fail to properly screen and identify victims of human trafficking when they detain or arrest criminal suspects. The process of being arrested, detained and prosecuted creates an entirely new traumatic experience and can strengthen the victim’s attachment to the trafficker.   Although many states have made progress in passing legislation to protect victims from criminal prosecution after they have been arrested, there continues to be gaps in identifying victims and challenges in the implementation of these statutes. The criminal justice and delinquency systems are not designed to appropriately respond to sex trafficking victims. Our  justice system is overwhelmed and most the time fails to consider individual circumstances.  This allows these victim’s cases to fall through the cracks. In addition, the criminal legal system itself is not equipped to identify victims or offer them resources or assistance if identified. Cases are typically quickly resolved, usually by way of plea bargaining, in an attempt to address the constant stream of cases entering the criminal legal system. Foreign national victims face an additional risk since the likelihood of deportation significantly increases after a criminal arrest or conviction.  Identifying victims is also challenging as they often distrust the criminal justice system and fear disclosure. In addition, “conflict between current trafficking legislation and existing criminal laws in some states creates a complex situation which ultimately harms the victim.  Victims of sex trafficking can be simultaneously considered criminals under the prostitution law and victims under the trafficking law. When confronted with this tension, law enforcement officials may be more likely to label victims as criminals, largely due to the longstanding history of criminalizing [...]

412, 2018

La intersección de género y discapacidad debe abordarse con urgencia para prevenir la violencia en el contexto de la epidemia de Zika

Por: Maddison Hall, Elga Salvador y Tisa Barrios Wilson Alrededor del 15% de la población mundial vive con algún tipo de discapacidad, y se espera que esta prevalencia aumente en concordancia con el envejecimiento poblacional y el aumento de las enfermedades crónicas. Los datos existentes demuestran consistentemente que las personas con discapacidades experimentan violencia a tasas más altas que las personas sin discapacidades. La falta de apoyo social, el estigma, la institucionalización, la ignorancia y la discriminación contribuyen al riesgo de violencia entre las personas con discapacidad; esta violencia puede originarse a partir de varias fuentes, incluido el personal médico, personas que se ocupan del cuidado y parejas íntimas. Las experiencias de violencia pueden exacerbar las disparidades sociales y de salud que las personas con discapacidades ya enfrentan y que en muchos casos se ignoran. Tanto la discapacidad como el género pueden poner a las personas en mayor riesgo de violencia, pero la intersección de la discapacidad y la violencia de género (VBG) a menudo se ha pasado por alto. La prevalencia de discapacidad entre las mujeres es del 19,2%, que es mayor que la prevalencia global de discapacidad (15%). Los datos que analizan la VBG entre personas con discapacidades son limitada, y los estudios existentes ofrecen resultados contradictorios sobre la prevalencia de VBG entre personas con discapacidad. Las mujeres con discapacidades físicas y visuales en España tuvieron tasas mucho más altas de VBG que las mujeres sin discapacidad. En Camboya, las mujeres con discapacidad corren un mayor riesgo de violencia emocional, física y sexual por parte de sus familiares. Las mujeres con discapacidades tienen más probabilidades de experimentar la violencia de pareja que las mujeres sin discapacidad, y sus parejas tienen más probabilidades de demostrar un comportamiento dominante o propietario. Si bien las mujeres con discapacidad tienen más probabilidades de experimentar violencia que las mujeres sin discapacidades en los Estados Unidos, no existe una diferencia significativa en el riesgo de violencia entre hombres y mujeres con discapacidades. Las tasas de violencia sexual son altas entre las personas con discapacidad, especialmente para las mujeres. Estadísticas del Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization informaron que en los Estados Unidos entre 2011 y 2015, la tasa de violaciones y agresiones sexuales contra personas con discapacidad intelectual fue siete veces mayor que la de las personas sin discapacidad. Entre las mujeres con discapacidad intelectual, fue alrededor de 12 veces la tasa. Además, las personas transgénero con discapacidades experimentan violencia sexual a tasas más altas que las personas transgénero sin discapacidad. Incluso con datos limitados sobre la prevalencia de la VBG entre las personas con discapacidad, existe una clara evidencia de que las experiencias de las personas con discapacidad en relación con la VBG son únicas. Hay un subregistro de la violencia contra las personas con discapacidad, ya que las personas con discapacidad se enfrentan a distintos desafíos para denunciar la violencia de género o acceder a los servicios. Las personas con discapacidad no pueden acceder a los lugares de servicio o refugios, [...]

412, 2018

Child Marriage Statistics

Preventing child marriage is a critical component in the fight against GBV. It is a form of GBV itself and a risk factor for other forms of violence. Click on our graph to explore rates of child marriage across the world.

312, 2018

The intersection of gender and disability must be urgently addressed to prevent violence in the context of the Zika epidemic

By: Maddison Hall, Elga Salvador, and Tisa Barrios Wilson Around 15% of the world’s population is living with some form of disability, and this prevalence is expected to rise in concurrence with the aging of populations and increasing burden of chronic disease.  Existing data consistently demonstrates that individuals with disabilities experience violence at higher rates than individuals without disabilities. Lack of social support, stigma, institutionalization, ignorance, and discrimination all contribute to the risk for violence among people with disabilities; this violence may originate from a number of sources including medical personnel, caregivers, and intimate partners. Experiences of violence can exacerbate the often-ignored health and social disparities people with disabilities already face. Both disability and gender can put individuals at increased risk of violence, but the intersection of disability and gender-based violence (GBV) has often been overlooked. The prevalence of disability among women is 19.2%, which is higher than the global prevalence of disability (15%). Data analyzing experiences of GBV among people with disabilities is limited, and existing studies have found contradicting results about the prevalence of GBV among people with disabilities. Women with physical and visual disabilities in Spain were found to have much higher rates of GBV than women without disabilities. In Cambodia, women with disabilities are at an increased risk for emotional, physical and sexual violence from family members. Women with disabilities are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than women without disabilities, and their partners are more likely to demonstrate dominant or proprietary behavior. While women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence than women without disabilities in the United States, there is not a significant difference in risk of violence between men and women with disabilities. Rates of sexual violence are high among people with disabilities, particularly women. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey reported that in the United States from 2011-2015 the rate of rape and sexual assault against people with intellectual disabilities was more than seven times the rate against people without disabilities. Among women with intellectual disabilities, it was about 12 times the rate. Additionally, transgender people with disabilities experience sexual violence at higher rates than transgender people without disabilities. Even with limited data on the prevalence of GBV among people with disabilities, there is clear evidence that the experiences of people with disabilities in relation to GBV are unique.  Violence against people with disabilities is underreported, since individuals with disabilities face distinct challenges in reporting GBV or accessing services. Service locations or shelters may not be accessible to people with disabilities, legal officials may question the validity of reports from people with disabilities, and people with speech disabilities may face difficulties with communication in the absence of inclusive methods of communication. Further, because caregivers are often the perpetrators of violence against people with disabilities, they may be unwilling or unable to report violence due to fear of retaliation or lack of support. Under USAID’s Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project, WI-HER and our partners [...]

3011, 2018

Untold Stories: The Impact of Gender-Based Violence on Men and Boys

Gender-based violence (GBV) occurs in every region of the world, affecting individuals and families of diverse income and socio-demographic groups. GBV undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of persons affected, yet remains surrounded by a culture of silence. While women and girls are most at risk to many forms of gender-based violence due to their increased vulnerability and marginalization, we must not overlook the impacts of violence against men and boys. A recent Promundo study on masculine norms and violence reported that “globally, men and boys are disproportionately likely to perpetuate most forms of violence and to die by homicide and suicide”. The World Health Organization estimates that the lifetime prevalence of childhood sexual abuse against males (under 18) is 7.6% globally (compared to 18% for girls), but other research suggests this number could be anywhere between 3 and 17 percent depending on the country. UNICEF reports that around 15 million adolescent girls between 15 and 19 worldwide have experienced forced sex in their lifetime, but that while boys are also at risk, a global estimate is unavailable for them. These discrepancies in data reported by both the WHO and UNICEF are likely influenced by the culture of silence around men and sexual violence as the true number of survivors is vastly underreported. “There are many barriers that may prevent a man from disclosing his experience not only is there a lack of awareness about the issue and its prevalence, but societal expectations about what it means to “be a man” may cause a survivor to suppress his trauma. From an early age, men receive the message that they should never be, or even appear, vulnerable or weak; the idea that men cannot be victims is central to gender socialization”.  Research from North American and European countries has shown that boys are more likely than girls to face abuse from a non-family member, and perpetrators are often older males known to the survivor. However, studies from Bosnia, Liberia, and Rwanda among others have shown that in conflict settings women have been involved in sexual violence, often with groups of men, towards other men and women. Furthermore, men and boys may not successfully be able to fully access and utilize health, legal, and support services as health providers and authorities “may not know how to identify signs of sexual violence against males, due to gendered assumptions of women as victims and men  as perpetrators. Some may be hostile, profess disbelief, or dismiss male victims outright”; which may also impact reporting.  “Research conducted in a  broad range of contexts  and regions confirms that  the physical, mental, social,  and economic impact of sexual violence  on men and boys can be devastating, with  both short- and long-term effects”. Physical consequences include injuries to the genital areas, urinary and bowel incontinence, sexually  transmitted infections including HIV, sexual dysfunction, and infertility. Psychologically, male survivors may feel shame and guilt. “Some survivors struggle with gender identity and sexual orientation given the common myth that male survivors [...]

2811, 2018

Zika, Condom Negotiation, and Gender-Based Violence in Latin America

By Tisa Barrios Wilson and Elga Salvador "The women say, 'I understand', they take the condoms from their antenatal care appointment, but they never tell their partners for fear of how they will react. They prefer to be silent … and there is a risk that the pregnant women will be hit." (Health Provider, Zacapa, Guatemala) Zika is a virus that is endemic in the Latin America and the Caribbean region and while it is most known for being mosquito-borne, it is also sexually transmitted. Zika is linked with a spectrum of birth defects called Congenital Syndrome associate with Zika (CSaZ), most notably microcephaly, when a pregnant woman becomes infected. This is why the CDC and WHO recommend that couples use condoms during pregnancy to prevent Zika transmission. However, this isn’t an easy sell in Latin America where machismo culture contributes to strict gender norms and where women may have limited autonomy over their sexual and reproductive health. While health facilities are starting to distribute condoms to pregnant women at their antenatal care (ANC) appointments, many health providers have found these same condoms in trash cans at the end of the day. Some women did not feel comfortable taking condoms home to their partners, so what is happening here? WI-HER is working with USAID’s Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project in 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. WI-HER has conducted interviews and focus groups with health providers, pregnant women, and their partners, to uncover gender insights to help increase condom use among pregnant couples and increase male engagement in Zika response the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Honduras. However, a consistent theme that comes up time and time again is that women fear violence and maltreatment from their partners. Our previous blog introduces the scope of gender-based violence (GBV) in Latin America and why GBV contributes to women’s vulnerability to Zika infection, but this time we’ll be analyzing violence in the context condom use and Zika in order to design more effective prevention efforts. The interviews and focus groups revealed that proposing condom use within a married or committed relationship signals that they do not trust their partner. Since condom use is traditionally associated with cheating or sex work, a woman’s request to use condoms can be perceived as an offense, lack of trust, an accusation of infidelity, or it can rouse suspicion about the woman’s fidelity. Many men perceive this as threatening their authority and control over their family. “To ask the husband to use condoms is considered a lack of respect. It is as if you do not trust him.” (Woman, Barahona, Dominican Republic) “Once I had enough getting injections for family planning and told my husband: ‘if you don’t want me to get pregnant, let’s use condoms’; he told me: ‘You are crazy! I prefer we break up, tell me if you are cheating on me with another man’. He got jealous; I was his wife, in his home.” (Woman, Santo Domingo, Dominican [...]

2811, 2018

Zika, negociación de condones y violencia de género en América Latina

Por Tisa Barrios Wilson and Elga Salvador “Dicen ‘Entiendo’, se lo llevan, pero nunca se los proponen por miedo a como va a reaccionar. Prefieren callar. El esposo ni siquiera se entera … y hay el riesgo que se golpeen las mujeres embarazadas.”  (Proveedor de salud, Zacapa, Guatemala) El Zika es un virus endémico en la región de América Latina y el Caribe y aunque es más conocido por ser transmitido por mosquitos, también se transmite sexualmente. El Zika está relacionado con un espectro de defectos de nacimiento llamado Síndrome Congénito asociado al virus Zika (SCaZ), especialmente con la microcefalia, cuando una mujer embarazada se infecta. Es por eso que los CDC y la OMS recomiendan que las parejas usen condones durante el embarazo para prevenir la transmisión del Zika. Sin embargo, esto no es fácil de promover en América Latina, donde el machismo cultural contribuye a las estrictas normas de género y donde muchas mujeres tienen limitada autonomía sobre su salud sexual y reproductiva. Mientras que los centros de salud están comenzando a distribuir condones a las mujeres embarazadas en sus citas de atención prenatal (APN), muchos proveedores de salud han encontrado estos mismos condones en los basureros al final del día. Algunas mujeres no se sentían cómodas llevándose condones a casa con sus parejas, entonces, ¿qué está pasando? WI-HER está trabajando con el Proyecto de USAID Aplicando la Ciencia para Fortalecer y Mejorar los Sistemas de Salud (ASSIST) en 13 países de América Latina y el Caribe. WI-HER ha realizado entrevistas y grupos focales de discusión con proveedores de salud, mujeres embarazadas y sus parejas, para identificar sobre cuales asuntos de género intervenir para contribuir a aumentar el uso del condón entre las parejas embarazadas y aumentar la participación masculina en la respuesta del Zika en la República Dominicana, Guatemala y Honduras. Sin embargo, un tema que surge a menudo es que las mujeres sufran violencia y maltrato por parte de sus parejas. Nuestro blog anterior presentó el alcance de la violencia basada en género (VBG) en América Latina y habló del por qué la VBG contribuye a la vulnerabilidad de las mujeres a la infección por Zika; esta vez,  en base a los estudios realizados en el contexto del Zika, profundizaremos sobre las dinámicas de violencia relacionadas con la el uso del condón. Las entrevistas y los grupos focales revelaron que proponer el uso del condón dentro de una unión libre o un matrimonio se asocia a desconfianza en la pareja. Debido a que el uso del condón tradicionalmente se ha considerado algo relacionado con el engaño o el trabajo sexual, la solicitud de una mujer a su pareja de usar condones puede percibirse como una ofensa, falta de confianza, una acusación de infidelidad, o puede generar sospechas sobre la fidelidad de la mujer. Muchos hombres perciben que esto amenaza su autoridad y su control sobre la familia. “Pedir al esposo de usar un condón puede ser considerada una falta de respeto. Es como si no confiaras [...]

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