Having boosted the support mechanisms in approximately 100 Bolivian municipal services over the past few years, the SDC is pursuing its specific commitment to Bolivian women by focusing on a new project that bears the evocative title: Life Without Violence.
This is a burning issue. In Bolivia, seven out of ten women will be the victims of gender-based violence at least once in their lives. As is so often the case in patriarchal societies, this violence is rarely prosecuted or the perpetrators convicted. Only 17% of women who are attacked dare to press charges, perhaps because only 0.28% of reports actually result in a conviction.
In the wake of a new law to protect women, adopted by the Bolivian authorities in 2013, the SDC promotes a profound reform of the care provided to women who are victims of violence. Solidar Suisse, the NGO appointed for the project, aims to train and raise awareness among 2,000 public servants (police officers, magistrates, health workers), as well as among officers in four regional provinces and in 80 urban and rural municipalities. The goal is to improve support for female victims and the effectiveness of the judiciary across the board. Two UN agencies, UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are collaborating on this project.
The support framework for women being backed by the SDC at a local level also relies on 80 'anti-violence networks' and 10 reception centres for abused women, which will be implemented or consolidated across the country. The networks pool the efforts of municipal representatives, civil society and local media groups. Thanks to their support, the SDC estimates that about 74,000 women will receive legal, medical or psychological assistance.
Persistent male chauvinism
The Life Without Violence project in parallel advocates considerable preventive work. A new countrywide study commissioned by the SDC in 2015, whose results were shared with the Bolivian authorities, confirmed persistent traditional male chauvinist values leading to numerous acts of violence against women.
Solidar Suisse is therefore working with a number of Bolivian NGO partners in the field to change these attitudes. Not only women but also men – young and old – are being challenged to think about their practices and views. The awareness-raising activities are being carried out in schools, youth organisations, among indigenous and rural communities, in cultural centres, and in the media, etc.
One hundred prevention campaigns
By 2020, it is expected that one hundred local or national prevention campaigns will be launched and reach a population of nearly 300,000 people. Four of the country’s provinces – La Paz, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca and Potosí – have initially been selected.
The SDC and its partners hope that by working both on caring for women who are victims of violence and on the cultural practices specific to the various population groups in Bolivia, impunity and social acceptance of domestic violence will diminish considerably over time.