WASHINGTON (AFP) - One in three women in the Americas has suffered violence at the hands of their domestic partner at some point in their life, according to a study released Thursday (Nov 29) by the Pan American Health Organization.
"In our region, intimate partner violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women, affecting one in every three women in the Americas," said Isabella Danel, the deputy director of the organization.
She said rates vary from country to country across the region, with some nations recording a rate of 14 per cent and others, such as Bolivia, as much as 60 per cent.
Alessandra Guedes, the group's regional expert on domestic violence, said the problem was extremely widespread and that states have not given it sufficient attention.
"Even though we know it is an extraordinarily large problem and that we need intervention to allow us to address it, we carry on having no policies, or have policies that are not sufficiently funded to allow concrete change," she told AFP.
The study was carried out using national surveys in 24 countries, and showed that some types of violence had declined over the past 20 years in Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.
But it warned that violence against women still had very serious consequences, including the death of abuse victims, either through murder by a partner or suicide, or through health problems associated with infections and maternal mortality.
The researchers also noted the difficulty of obtaining reliable data on the problem, because so few surveys on the issue have been carried out in the past two decades.