Every four days a woman dies in Colombia at the hands of her husband, a study published by the national forensic institute showed this week.
Of 1,139 female deaths reported in 2008, 92 were committed by a spouse or significant other, reported newspaper El Espectador. “Permanent partners” were cited as the principal culprit in 4.4% of these deaths.
In 50,058 cases of domestic violence reported from January-September of 2009, 88% of victims were women who had been beaten or mistreated by their partner.
Domestic assault cases represent 67% of intra-family violence. Between 2007 and 2008, there was a 1.8% increase from 57,495 to 58,533 cases, the majority of which never go to trial.
The coroner’s office and the Office for the Equality of Women confirmed that the most-affected group are women aged between 20 and 29, who made up 42% of cases recorded in 2008.
Young, educated women who are aware of their rights are more likely to report violence, but there are an alarming amount of cases registered involving adolescents.
One explanation offered by the 2008 forensic report highlighted cultural factors such as “accidental pregnancies, and a belief that you should have a family before reaching 30 years of age” and social pressures which encourage young people to live together before they are ready.
According to the report, the days with the highest domestic violence levels are Saturday and Sunday, when 41% of incidents occurred. Many incidents also take place over the Christmas period. Caracol Radio reported that there were 33 deaths in Colombia on Christmas Eve last year.
Peak hours for violence are between 6 and 11PM, and alcohol is often cited in violent incidents.
Almost 60% of women who are victims of violence reported some source of income. One theory put forward to explain violence against women is a culture of machismo, and the belief that women should assume the role of homemaker and mother. The Legal Medicine Institute also stated that women often do not report incidents for fear of losing financial support.
The four main reasons reported for domestic violence included intolerance, jealousy, alcohol, and machismo, which were reported in 60% of cases. Infidelity was reported in only 7% of cases.
The capital of Bogota reported 16,759 cases of family violence, or 1 case every half hour. Medellin reported 3,395 cases, Cali 2,514 cases, Barranquilla 1,429 cases, Cucuta 1,234 cases and Villavicencio 984 cases.
Newspaper El Pais reported an increase in violence in the city of Cali over the past year, and a report by the secretary of health stated that there was an increase of 1,866 domestic violence cases reported last year. Figures from the Observatory for Mental Health estimate that there were as many as 9,923 cases of domestic violence reported in 2009.