ANALYSIS OF THE INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM MEMBER STATES AND
As of the Commission's 98th regular period of sessions, Special
Rapporteur Dean Grossman had received responses to the questionnaire from the
following member states: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay,
Peru, Mexico, and Uruguay, as well as responses from the nongovernmental
organizations: Instituto de Estudios de la Mujer "Norma Virginia Guirola de
Herrera" CEMUJER (El Salvador) and the Centro de Estudios de la Mujer
-Honduras CEM-H (based in Tegucigalpa). These
responses were received between December of 1996 and December of 1997.)
While the Commission was meeting during its 98th period of
sessions, responses were received from Canada and Venezuela.
The Commission wishes to recognize these States and organizations for
their work in responding to the questionnaire, which sought very comprehensive
information across a wide range of issues affecting the status of women.
The responses received demonstrate the very real commitment on the part
of member states throughout the hemisphere to advancing that status, while
recognizing that much work remains to be done.
The Commission notes that the responses received varied in their breadth
and depth, ranging from only a few pages to over 100 pages.
The present report is based on the responses received, and corresponds to
that extent to the level of information provided.
The Commission has also benefitted from receiving information about
ongoing projects being conducted by other entities within the inter-American
system. The Rapporteur has received
information from the PAHO, which has identified the search for gender equity in
health and human development as a priority.
PAHO, through its Regional Program for Women, Health and Development, is
working in favor of lessening the gap that restricts women's
access to and control of resources necessary to protect their health, and
has mobilized extensive resources to support work at the national level to
combat gender violence. The
Rapporteur has also received information from the Inter-American Development
Bank, which, through its Women and Development Unit is engaged in programs
addressing the role of women in civil society and institution-building, as well
specific activities focusing on the causes and consequences of gender violence.
The IIDH, for it parts, has provided information and important
collaboration, through its Program on Gender and Human Rights, throughout the
elaboration of the project.
The following analysis is intended to be initial in scope, to identify
certain trends and priorities in the region, and to establish a basis for future
inquiry and action. It focusses on
the issues which emerged as most vital, and about which the Commission received
substantive submissions of information.
MEASURES, NATIONAL POLICIES AND JUDICIAL GUARANTEES FOR THE PROMOTION AND/OR
PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN: (Articles 2, 17, 25, and 26, American
Declaration; Articles 1, 2, 8, and 25, American Convention; Articles 7 and 8,
Convention of Belém do Pará)
The responses received from the States reveal that, within the framework
of the hemispheric process of transition to democracy, major initiatives were
developed to promote participation by women, without discrimination in public
life, and to achieve full recognition of their rights as established in
international instruments. With this in mind, various countries in the region
established institutions with the authority to coordinate, formulate, and
implement policies on women's rights that resulted in national plans and
programs for the promotion, research, and dissemination of information and legal
initiatives to protect the rights of women.
This process fulfills the terms of Article 1 of the American
Convention of Human Rights, whereby the States Parties undertake to respect the
rights and freedoms recognized therein and to guarantee the exercise of these
rights by all individuals, without discrimination.
Article 2 of the Convention establishes that the States have the
obligation to "adopt, in accordance with their constitutional processes and
the provisions of this Convention, such legislative or other measures as may be
necessary to give effect to those rights or freedoms."
For instance, between 1984 and 1987, Argentina created within the
purview of the country's Executive Branch the Subsecretariat of Women, reporting
to the Ministry of Health and Social Action; the Directorate of Women, which
reports to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship; and the Women's Health
and Development Program, which falls under the Ministry of Health and Social
Action. Decree 219 of 1995
established the National Council of Women, attached to the Office of the
President, which began functioning in 1991 as a Council for Coordinating Public
Policy in charge of supervising the application of the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Under the Legislature, a Bicameral Commission was created to promote the
elimination of all discrimination against women.
In Bolivia, the Directorate of Gender and Family Matters was
established in 1993, attached to the Vice Ministry of Gender, Generational and
Family Matters, for the purpose of designing standards and policies to achieve
gender equality and to create institutions that guarantee equality of
opportunities. In Brazil,
the National Council of Women's Rights (CNDM) was established in 1985, under the
Ministry of Justice. In Canada,
the federal government and the territories and provinces have a Minister or
Secretary of State Responsible for the Status of Women, as well as agencies
which work with other Ministries to advise on gender analysis, public policies
and legislative reforms. There are
also government programs designed to support the involvement of nongovernmental
organizations and the community in this sphere.
In Chile, the National Women's Service (SERNAM) was established in
1991, with responsibility for formulating and coordinating policies to improve
the situation of women. In Colombia,
the National Directorate of Equity for Women was created to implement gender
policy in the country. In Costa
Rica, the Commission for attention to and Prevention of Intrafamily Violence
was established. In addition, the
1990 Law on the Promotion of Social Equality for Women provided that the
Ministry of Justice, in coordination with the National Center for the
Development of Women and the Family, would promote programs to guarantee
protection and guidance for the victims of aggression and work towards its
prevention. In Ecuador, the
National Directorate of Women was established in 1994.
Its functions include promoting and coordinating training programs with a
gender perspective. In Guatemala,
the National Office of Women (ONAM) was created under the Ministry of Labor and
Social Security, and in 1996 a project of technical and political support for
women and judicial reform was initiated. One
of its many functions is to prepare drafts reforms to the Civil Code as well as
draft legislation to amend the Electoral and Political Party Act.
In Mexico, the National Program for Women was initiated to advance
the promotion and full participation of women in society, with opportunities
equal to those of men. In Panama,
the Ministry of Health initiated an integrated health promotion plan for women
through the Women, Health, and Development Program.
In Paraguay, the Secretariat of Women was created in 1992 as an
agency which, working closely with Ministries and other independent agencies,
has set up mechanisms to achieve equality.
In Uruguay, a Technical Office to support Victims of Family
Violence has been functioning under the Ministry of the Interior since 1992.
Also established was the National Institute of Women for the integration
and development of the rights of women in national policies.
In Peru, the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Human
Development was established to coordinate government plans and programs.
In Venezuela, the National Council of Women (CONAMU), a dependency
of the Presidency, acts to coordinate and implement programs, projects and
campaigns to raise social awareness of the diverse problems affecting women.
The issue of intrafamily violence is a priority aim of many of these
institutions, a number of which were in fact established specifically to address
this serious human rights violation. These
institutions have also been responsible for presenting legal initiatives on many
occasions with a view to achieving full equality for women.
At the same time, in some countries, such as Argentina
, and Colombia
, these institutions have implemented programs at different levels to
assist and provide guidance to women who have been the victims of domestic
violence. In other countries, such
, the establishment of national plans aimed at proposing standards
governing the situation of women has been adopted as a methodology.
In light of the reports received, the Commission is also pleased to note
that new ways and means for participation by civil society have increased the
interaction between State entities and nongovernmental organizations.
This leads in the first place to a better understanding of the problems
facing women; in the second place, to more active involvement by the private
sector in legislative and social proposals.
AND POLITICAL RIGHTS OF WOMEN
Capacity (Articles 2 and 17 of the American Declaration; Articles 1, 3, and 24,
In a number of countries in the region, standards are being adopted to
achieve equality between men and women in the area of civil capacity.
In Argentina, law 23,264 was approved in 1985 to amend the
previous Civil Code provisions covering parental authority and filiation.
In 1987, the family law regime was amended to give both spouses equal
standing before the law. In Belize,
women enjoy full capacity to acquire, administer, and dispose of property and to
assume rights and obligations
. In Bolivia, the
Political Constitution of the State and the Civil Code recognize the human
personality and juridical capacity of all individuals without distinctions based
on sex. In Brazil, the
Federative Constitution of 1988 incorporated regulations representing a major
step forward for women's rights by establishing equality between men and women
before the law and with respect to rights and obligations. In Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
of 1985 guarantees equality before the law without discrimination.
In Chile, through the 1989 reform, progress was made on the
subject of the capacity of women who had previously enjoyed relative incapacity
since they had been classified with minors.
In Colombia, the Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind
against women. According to the Civil Code and subsequently approved
legislation, married women have ceased to be deemed incompetent and now possess
equal rights and obligations. In Costa
Rica, the Civil Code recognizes full legal capacity on equal conditions with
men to contract, administer, and dispose of assets of the conjugal union.
In Ecuador, the Civil Code does not contain any discriminatory
provisions with respect to the legal capacity of women in general.
There is equality with respect to acquiring, contracting, disposing, and
administering conjugal assets. In Guatemala,
the Civil Code establishes that spouses have equal capacity in certain respects
to acquire, administer, and dispose of the assets of the conjugal union
. In Guyana, the
1980 Constitution provides for equal rights without distinction between men and
. In Honduras, in
the questionnaire submitted by the Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (CEM‑H),
it is reported that the Civil Code recognizes that spouses have equal capacity
to administer and dispose of conjugal assets.
In Jamaica, in general women enjoy the same legal capacity as men
with respect to acquiring, administering, and disposing of assets and entering
into contractual relationships
recognizes gender equality in its Constitution, stating that men and women are
equal before the law. Similarly,
the Civil Code for the Federal District establishes that men and women have
equal legal capacity, which applies to the administration and organization of
the family. In Panama, the
Constitution and the Civil Code recognize the full capacity of women on equal
conditions with men. Prior to 1994,
there were provisions in the Commercial Code that discriminated against women,
but these were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In Paraguay, the National Constitution and the Civil
Code confer full capacity on married and unmarried women, on conditions of
equality with men. These provisions
also apply to the administration of conjugal assets and the exercise of parental
authority. Uruguay grants
full capacity to women under its Constitution and in its civil legislation.
In Peru, the Civil Code establishes that each spouse may exercise
any profession or business permitted by law, with the express or tacit consent
of the other spouse. As to legal status in marriage, spouses enjoy equal rights
and obligations under the Civil Code. In
the Dominican Republic, the Civil Code recognizes full capacity for women
. In El Salvador,
the Family Code establishes equality of rights and duties for spouses.
Despite these advances, problems still exist in the region with respect
to full equality for women in the area of civil capacity.
These negative circumstances are generally found in the following areas:
on the exercise of a profession or on work by women insofar as the authorization
of the husband is required. In
their responses to the questionnaire, Bolivia, Guatemala, Panama,
Peru and the Dominican Republic reported that restrictive laws are
between men and women with respect to the authorization to contract marriage (Bolivia,
Brazil), or to remarry (Mexico, Costa Rica).
between men and women in acquiring, administering, and disposing of assets of
the conjugal union. In Argentina,
assets whose origin cannot be determined are administered by the husband. In Chile, the husband in certain cases administers the
assets of the union as well as those of his wife. In Brazil, a married woman does not have the same
capacity as her husband to administer certain assets.
In Ecuador, unless otherwise stipulated, the husband is presumed
to administer the assets of the conjugal union. In Guatemala, the husband is the administrator of the
conjugal assets. In the Dominican
Republic, the husband administers the conjugal assets and those of his wife.
between men and women with respect to parental authority.
To cite an example, in Chile, parental authority is exercised by
the father and is conferred upon the mother only in his absence.
of women with minors in labor legislation, for example, in Bolivia, Costa
Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala.
on a woman's right to property. In
the Dominican Republic there is a restriction that prevents women campesinos
from owning plots of land under the Constitution itself.
of treatment between women and men with respect to certain criminal offenses,
for instance, in the case of adultery in El Salvador and Venezuela
with respect to access to the administration of justice, diminished penalties or
the absence of penalties when the victim is a woman.
Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama,
and Paraguay, report in their responses varying degrees of inequality in
this particular area.
Rights (Articles 20 and 24, American Declaration; Article 23, American
Women hold political rights on equal conditions with men under the
Constitutions and the domestic legislation of the countries in the region.
General elections have provided women with great opportunities given the
potential that they may provide an incentive for political parties to vie with
one another for their votes. To
date, however, the proportion of women who hold positions in public life in the
region is still very low.
In the face of this situation, some countries have begun to pass
legislation that ensures a certain minimum representation by women in the
institutional structure of the state. Accordingly,
laws have been adopted for the purpose of establishing minimum quotas of
participation by women in politics. Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, and Costa Rica should be noted in this
In Argentina, the proportion of women holding elected office was
favorably affected by the national law on quotas in 1991, with the percentage of
women in the National Congress standing at 31.9%.
In 1996, Bolivia passed a similar law, and 22% of the
representatives in the Congress are women.
In 1995, Brazil approved a law requiring political parties to
ensure that women hold 20% of elected offices.
In Costa Rica, under an Electoral Code reform that took effect in
1996, the bylaws of political parties must contain mechanisms to ensure that
women account for at least 40% of the party structures and the lists of
candidates put forward.
In general, most countries in the region report that participation by
women in levels of decision making in the three branches of government is still
In Argentina, in the executive branch, there is one women minister
(Ministry of Education), and two women in charge of Secretariats (Environment
and Civil Service). In Bolivia,
only one of a total of 10 ministries is headed by a woman.
A similar situation is found in departmental governments, municipalities,
cities and other recently created control bodies.
In Brazil, it is estimated that 20 of the country's 350
Secretariats of State are filled by women.
There have been four women ministers since 1994.
In Chile, women hold relatively few positions at the executive
level in ministries and in local, state, provincial, and departmental
governments, with the proportion being somewhat higher in the case of mayors (27
of 334) and town council members (273 of 2,130).
In Colombia, women account for 6.8% of senators and 12.2% of
representatives in Congress, the percentage being higher in the central
government, with a high representation overall except at the decision-making
level. In Costa Rica, in the
executive branch, there are two women ministers (Minister of Cultural Affairs,
Youth, and Sports, and the Minister of Justice) and four Deputy Ministers
(Education, Health, Justice, and Labor). In
the legislative branch, seven of 57 representatives are women.
In Ecuador, in 1996 none of the 12 nationally elected
representatives were women, and at the provincial level, there were 64 elected
representatives of whom four were women. The
absence of women is also evident in other areas at the executive level.
In Guatemala, three of the 28 cabinet ministers are women, and of
a total of 330 mayors, three are women. In
many countries in the region, participation by women in the higher levels of the
judiciary is low, and virtually nonexistent at the Supreme Court level.
RIGHT TO LIFE, PERSONAL INTEGRITY, AND HEALTH
to life (Article 1, American Declaration; Article 4, American Convention;
Articles 1, 3 and 4, Convention of Belém do Pará)
The responses from the States demonstrate that there are no laws whose
purpose is to formally discriminate against women from a legal standpoint in the
protection of these important rights. With
respect to the protection of the woman's life, however, the Inter-American
Commission has been able to confirm that there are no accurate statistics in any
of the countries showing the causes of feminine mortality.
In accordance with the information submitted, the Commission has been
able to establish that a high proportion of maternal mortality is attributable
to abortion, with levels of 29.1% in Argentina and 26% in Chile.
It has also been able to confirm that a high proportion is also due to
pregnancy and child birth. For Bolivia,
child birth accounts for 58% in urban areas and 63.5% in rural areas, and
pregnancy 26.8% in urban areas and 20.4% in rural areas; for Chile, the
figure is 39.7%. For Peru,
maternal mortality averages 261 deaths per 100,000 births. Peru is third behind Bolivia and Haiti.
In rural areas, the maternal mortality rate is double the rate in urban
areas. In the Dominican Republic
the maternal mortality rate is 185 per 100,000 live births.
to Personal Integrity and Protection from Violence against Women (Article 1,
American Declaration; Article 5, American Convention; Articles 3 and 7,
Convention of Belém do Pará)
In the different countries in the region, legislation has been adopted
and steps have been taken to afford protection from violence against women.
In Argentina, law 24,417 was passed for Protection against Family
Violence in 1994, and the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1996.
In Belize, special legislation on domestic violence was passed in
1992 (Domestic Violence Act), and the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified
in 1996. In Bolivia, Law
1,674 on Domestic or Family Violence was adopted in 1995, and the Convention of
Belém do Pará was ratified in 1994. In
Brazil, the Federative Constitution of 1988 incorporated an explicit
commitment by the State to create mechanisms to address and repudiate violence
in the family, and the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1995. In Canada, the elimination of systemic violence
against women has been a government priority, as a principal objective of the
Federal Plan for Gender Equality. In
1993, the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women reported the results of its
extensive study on the dimensions and impact of violence against women.
Federal action has included the Family Violence Initiative which provides
economic resources to nearly 3000 projects and the establishment of emergency
shelters and housing for battered woman and their families.
In Chile, the Intrafamilial Violence Act was passed in 1994,
protecting all members of the family group that may have suffered aggression or
mistreatment by any other family member, and the Convention of Belém do Pará
was ratified in 1996. In Colombia,
there is special legislation that punishes violence against women within the
family, law 294 having been adopted in 1996 to prevent, remedy, and punish
intrafamily violence, and the Convention of Belém do Pará having been ratified
that same year. In Costa Rica,
Law 7,586 on domestic violence at the national level was passed in 1996, and the
Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1995. In Ecuador, women's precincts were created in 1994.
The law on Violence against Women and the Family was passed in 1995, and
the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1995.
In Guatemala, the Law for the Prevention, Punishment, and
Eradication of Intrafamily Violence was passed in October 1996 and the
Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1995.
In Guyana, violence against women is classified as a crime
punishable under the Domestic Violence Act of 1996.
Also, the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1996.
In Honduras, the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in
1995, and at the completion of the questionnaire by the Commission, a law on
domestic or intrafamily violence was in the process of being adopted.
In Jamaica, cases of physical violence are punishable under the
Offenses against the Person Act; some of its provisions relate specifically to
crimes against women. In Mexico,
an Intrafamily Violence Protection and Assistance Act was enacted in 1996. In
Panama, the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1995, and
intrafamilial violence and mistreatment of minors were classified as crimes by
Law 27 of 1995. In Paraguay,
the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1995
. In Uruguay,
violence against women is regulated by Law 16,107 or the Citizen Safety Act, and
the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1996.
In Peru, the Convention of Belém do Pará was ratified in 1996,
and Law 26,260/93 was passed, regulating family violence.
In El Salvador, Decree 902 of the Intrafamily Violence Act
was issued in 1996. Venezuela
ratified the Convention of Belém do Pará in 1995.
From a legislative or regulatory standpoint, regulations and services
have also been established in different countries in the region to make it
possible and/or easier to file complaints in cases of violence.
Since the mid-1980s, Brazil has developed and implemented
assistance services through offices and precincts set up to provide protection
for women across the country. Starting
in the 1990's, other countries have adopted similar mechanisms.
In Argentina, a Specialized Police Unit was set up within the
Federal Police to assist judges and victims of family violence
. In Chile,
Caribinero (police) personnel receive training in how to assist and protect
victims. In Colombia, the
women's precincts and legal offices for the family and other bodies take
complaints of intrafamily violence. In
Costa Rica, police officials are required to intervene de oficio
at the request of the victim or third parties, including entering the victim's
home, to apprehend the aggressor, and many even testify as witnesses during the
trial. Also, the Delegación de la
Mujer of the Ministry of Justice may file complaints and offer legal assistance.
Ecuador set up women's precincts in 1994.
In Mexico, Therapy Centers to care for the victims of intrafamily
violence, that report to the Attorney General (Procuraduría General) of the
Federal District, were set up commencing in 1996.
Also in Mexico, the Technical Judicial Police established a center
to provide care to victims of violence and a Department to take Complaints of
As well, the Commission received information on legislation that makes it
possible for judges to grant protection, including prohibiting the aggressor
from entering the victim's home and approaching the victim's place of work as
well as temporary decisions on payments for food and maintenance for children. In varying degrees this is the situation in Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Ecuador, Guyana, and Jamaica.
Notwithstanding the merits of these developments, the responses to the
IACHR questionnaire shows that serious problems of a general nature exist, that
are exacerbated by a lack of resources, poverty, and the marginalization of
broad sectors of the population in the region.
In this respect, the following points need to be stressed:
continues to be an absence of appropriate personnel or a failure to train
personnel properly to process complaints of violence. For instance, in its response, Ecuador reports that
for this very reason it is difficult to follow up on investigations of domestic
violence and to conclude judicial proceedings
. In other countries,
there is no information on subsequent status of cases after complaints have been
filed (i.e. Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay,
Peru and Venezuela), or there is no suitable training for police
officials, judicial authorities, and professional health workers in treating
women who are the victims of violence (i.e. Honduras, Guatemala).
existence of legal limitations that restrict women from exercising their rights.
In some countries, for instance, domestic violence is seen as a crime
which must be brought as a private action, or limited and understood as
pertaining to the private sphere as is the case for instance in Brazil
. In other countries,
domestic violence is not considered a crime but a health problem (Guatemala).
With respect to crimes that are of special interest to women, such as
rape, statutory rape, abduction, and sexual abuse, the responses show that
specific criminal classifications exist in Argentina (crimes against
decency), Bolivia and Peru (crimes against sexual freedom), Brazil
(crimes against good morals), Chile (crimes against family order and
public morality), Colombia (crimes against freedom and sexual decency), Costa
Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica,
Mexico, Paraguay, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela
that similarly classify this conduct, protecting juridical interests related to
public decency and morality.
One widespread problem concerning these crimes is that the right being
protected in the legislation of several of these countries continues to be
"honor", which means that only "decent women" may be
victims, for example, of rape. Rape by one's spouse is not classified as a crime uniformly
across the region, and the laws governing persecution or sexual harassment are
minimal. Based on the information
provided, legislation exists only in Argentina in the public sector, in Costa
Rica under a national law, in Mexico under a labor law and in the
public sector, and in Peru under labor legislation.
One other matter of importance that adversely affects the rights referred to in this section has to do with inspections and body searches conducted of women who are detained in jail, or visiting prisoners. This procedure practiced as security measure on entry into a penitentiary in some countries in the region is only regulated in exceptional instances to ensure respect for mental and physical integrity and require the presence of specialized medical personnel (see Law 65 of 1993, Colombia, and its implementing regulations, 1995). In responding to the questionnaire, some countries did not supply information on existing legal safeguards for this procedure (Argentina), or indicated that it is practiced without specifying whether or not it is regulated with respect to the requirements mentioned earlier (Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Venezuela).
The rights and duties established within the regional human rights system with
respect to equality and nondiscrimination are broad and inclusive.
The present report does not pretend to be exhaustive; rather, it sets
out to analyze several areas of principal concern to provide a basis for
concrete recommendations for action. These
recommendations are aimed not only at assisting member states in enhancing
compliance with their human rights obligations, but also at encouraging the
mechanisms of the system to better respond to the needs of all the actors
within the system in advancing toward the full enjoyment by women of their
The Subsecretariat for Women formed in 1987 in Argentina set up a
National Program for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to provide training
to national and provincial law enforcement personnel and NGO's, as well as to
disseminate information on this issue.
The 1988 Federative Constitution contains an explicit commitment to establish
mechanisms to address and prevent intrafamilial violence, and also provided
for the establishment of over 150 women's offices and precincts.
In 1993 a Parliamentary Investigation Commission was formed to study
the issue of violence against women in Brazil.
The Colombian Constitution establishes that violence within the family
is considered destructive to its harmony and unity, and is therefore
punishable according to the law. Women's
bureaus and legal offices for the family have also been set up.
In 1993, the Deputy Minister of Gender, Generational and Family Affairs was
established to develop specific standards and policies, in conjunction with
the Interministerial Group for the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of
Violence, which was in charge of preparing the Family Violence Act.
In 1996, a project to provide technical and political support for the Cabildeo
de Reformas Jurídico-Sociales on Women, sponsored by the agency of Dutch
Cooperation and the UNDP, was initiated to support the efforts undertaken by
the National Office of Women (ONAM).
In responding to the questionnaire, several countries neglected to include
specific data concerning laws on women's rights, date of enactment, and scope.
In such cases, this report does not include that data.
However, the Civil Code grants conjugal representation (head of the household)
to the husband and establishes limitations on women who pursue activities
outside the home.
The capacity of the woman seems to be relative. The Guyana report refers to a law of Equal Rights of 1990
which has been criticized for the ambiguous wording of its text.
Although the equality of women is expressly recognized, there are differences
in the case of married women.
However, there are restrictions or limitations. As indicated in the report, the Constitution establishes that
women may not own plots of land. This
norm is in the process of being amended by a new agrarian law.
In 1996, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala declared that the article of
the criminal code on adultery discriminated against women.
In Paraguay there is still no specific national legislation on violence
against women, and cases of violence that are classified as crimes are
regulated by the Criminal Code. The
Secretariat of Women coordinates training courses for law enforcement
personnel to deal with cases of this kind.
In its response, Argentina reports that this specialized force was
established by regulatory decree, but it is not yet functioning.
In Ecuador, only 1.03% of a total of 1,548 complaints filed in Quito
resulted in a conviction. Of
1,923 complaints filed in Guayaquil, there was a judgment in only 2.13% of the
cases. In Lima, Peru,
there were 4,000 complaints on average between 1989 and 1993, although in
general considerable reluctance exists to file a complaint because of barriers
of distance and cost of medical-legal processing according to the response
submitted by the State.
In Brazil, the Supreme Court revoked the defence of honor as
justification for killing one's wife in 1991.
However, the courts are still hesitant to process and punish the
perpetrators of domestic violence.
In the case of Ecuador, in 1989, the Court of Constitutional Guarantees
suspended the application of an article of the Criminal Code that justified
homicide and/or assault and battery committed against a daughter,
grand-daughter, or sister, when surprised in an illicit sexual act, with the
woman being referred to only as the guilty party. This law has not yet been abolished.