Gender, Ethnicity and Health Unit (Formerly the Women, Health and Development Program)

Domestic Violence: Women's Way Out

2000


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Introduction

The Regional Program on Women, Health, and Development (HDW) of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), with support from Norway and Sweden coordinated the development of the research protocol Domestic Violence: Women’s Way Out, in the framework of the HDW Program’s subregional project Strengthening and Organization of Women and Coordinated Action between the State and Civil Society at the Local Level to Prevent and Address Family Violence.

The specific issue of family violence is a priority area of action for the Program. Domestic Violence: Women’s Way Out is intended to draw attention to violence against women and girls as a priority problem and to identify resources that can help to address it. The situation analysis of domestic violence reveals the complexity of the problem and shows that solving it will require coordinated intersectoral policies and action, with the participation of both the State and civil society. This research protocol is the result of the cumulative work and commitment of numerous investigators, activists, and officials to address violence against women and improve the services available for women affected by it.

The development of the protocol began with the drafting and review of a preliminary version by the team of investigators in the course of three workshops. The final protocol was applied in 15 communities in 10 countries, 7 in Central America and 3 in the Andean area, and it was tailored to each country’s conditions. Through field interviews, qualitative data were collected from a wide range of women, service providers, and community members, representing groups of varying age, ethnicity, socioeconomic level, and marital status.

As do other organizations, PAHO considers the problem of family violence within a social context. All governmental and nongovernmental institutions—in the social, professional, political, judicial, law enforcement, and civil society spheres—that seek to promote equity between men and women need to understand the path followed by women who are affected by family violence in order to provide the best possible response to their situation.

It is our hope that this protocol will be an effective instrument of support in the effort to prevent and control violence in society, and especially violence against women and children.