Half of Colombian men admit to abusing their female partners, while 26% say they have tried to intimidate them in the past, according to a recent U.N. study.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) collaborated to interview 1,080 Colombians in ten cities around the country between October 2009 and April 2010.
Flor Maria Diaz, the general coordinator of the study, stated in an interview with Semana, that the numbers reveal a “very bleak” reality in Colombia.
Of those surveyed, 52% were women, and 48% admitted to being victims of gender-based violence.
The study said that 9% of men admit to having punched their partners, and 14% have slapped them.
A total of 38% of the women affected are between 31 and 64 years old, 32% between 18 and 30 years, 18% between 11 and 17 years, and the remaining 12% are over 65.
Diaz pointed out that girls as young as 11 were victims of violence, “We’re talking about girls who begin their love life early, and their boyfriends, also very young, abuse them. This type of aggression is more common than you would think … and young people have a more tolerant mentality to abuse.”
“We have seen how these beliefs only change once one begins to study and overcome the patriarchal system which considers women inferior, and therefore justifies violence against them,” said Diaz.
The same study showed that violence against women occurred in all social groups, however, the violence at the upper levels was less likely to be reported to authorities, for fear of social repercussions.
There also seemed to be more tolerance within “marginalized” populations with “low educational levels” according to Diaz.
Only 4 in 10 women report their abusive partners, and 79% claim that “family problems” should be discussed at home.
A study of officials in 300 cities across Colombia found that 50% of officials agree that family problems should be kept within the home.
Of the women who do report abuse, between 3 and 4 out of 10 report that authorities made them feel guilty or at fault, forced them to go to different organizations without resolving anything, or did not know how to help them at all.
A separate report by the Colombian government shows that violence against women has increased in the country.