According to 2013 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), at least one of every three women aged 15 or above has fallen victim to sexual violence. The situation is even more severe in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rate of gender-based homicide against women, UN Women reports. In Brazil, the Map of Violence on the Homicide of Women, released in 2015, shows that over 106 thousand women were murdered across the country.
"This is a wake-up call to states, public and private institutions and society at large for us to join forces efforts and end the gender-based murder of women in Latin America and the Caribbean. It's a call for a change in personal, institutional and state practices," Nadine Gasman, a representative from the UN Women's office in Brazil, told Agencia Brasil.
Culture of sexism
Violence against women, Gasman argued, is the reflection of a sexist culture that depreciates women and is among the most common human rights violations, and is linked to the lack of public security and the feeling of impunity. In her view, the state and the public institutions should work to change the culture of sexism and violence and find ways to protect the rights of girls and women in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as ensuring perpetrators are prosecuted.
Brazil's Maria da Penha Law
Gasman also highlighted the importance of laws like the Brazilian Maria da Penha Law, passed in 2006 to fight domestic and family violence against women.
"To punish criminals is a way the state can give a clear and unambiguous message that violence against women is not acceptable. This ends up being a preventive measure," Gasman argued, adding that the private enterprise can also help. "Companies can contribute by introducing mechanisms to stop harassment and violence against women. It's important that female workers get the support and have a place to seek help, even when they're attacked outside their workplace."