Latin America is world’s most violent region for women, UN says

A group of people disguised as zombies hold a protest asking the population not to vote for presidential candidates unaware of the violence against women in the country in the upcoming election, in Tegucigalpa on November 17, 2017. (AFP / ORLANDO SIERRA)
Updated 23 November 2017

Latin America is world’s most violent region for women, UN says

PANAMA CITY: Latin America and the Caribbean is the most violent region in the world for women, the United Nations said Wednesday, highlighting Central America and Mexico as particularly dangerous.
In a report presented in Panama, UN Women and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) found assaults on women persisted in the region despite severe laws aimed at curbing the phenomenon.
“The issue of violence against women in Latin America is critical. It’s the most violent region in the world against women outside of conflict contexts,” Eugenia Piza-Lopez, head of UNDP’s gender mission in Latin America, told AFP.
The rate of sexual violence against women outside of relationships is the highest in the world in the region, and the second-highest for those who are in, or were in, a couple, the report stated.
Three of the 10 countries with the highest rates of rape of women and girls were in the Caribbean, it said.
Femicide — the killing of women — occurred on a “devastating scale” in Central America, it said, explaining that two out three women murdered died because of their gender.
“In some countries it has become a severe crisis. In the Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) and Mexico the problem of femicide and violence against women has reached epidemic levels, in many cases with links to organized crime,” Piza-Lopez said.
Central America’s Northern Triangle is considered the most dangerous area in the world outside war zones, mainly because of rampant gangs and drug cartels.
The UN report noted that 24 of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have laws against domestic violence, but only nine of them have passed legislation that tackles a range of forms of other violence against women in public or private.
It also said that 16 of the countries had femicide on the books, and a few punished newer types of crimes, such as cybercrime, political violence, or acid attacks.
Despite those advances, though, the “plague” of violence continues to be a threat to human rights, public health and public safety, it said.
The UN recommended strengthening institutions and policies in the region, and allocating resources to empower women. It also advised that “patriarchal” cultural norms that maintain gender inequality needed to be addressed.
The report added one third of women worldwide have been a victim of violence in their relationship or of sexual violence by people outside their relationship.


Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

Updated 15 August 2020

Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

  • Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio is still endemic
  • Since Jan., Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials on Saturday launched a seven-day vaccination campaign against polio as part of efforts aimed at eliminating the crippling disease amid a steady decline in fatalities and infections from the coronavirus, which had recently overwhelmed the country’s fragile health system.
The anti-polio campaign, which began amid tight security, aims to vaccinate as many as 34 million children across Pakistan, including former Taliban strongholds bordering Afghanistan, a government statement said.
Medical workers participating in the drive against polio were seen adhering to social distancing regulations as they wore face masks and gloves while going house-to-house to avoid a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign,” said Faisal Sultan, an adviser to the prime minister on health issues.
According to Rana Safdar, who heads the government’s polio program, similar campaigns against polio will be launched in October, November and December.
Earlier Saturday, Pakistan’s military said Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, praised Islamabad’s success in the fight against coronavirus in a telephone call to the country’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. It said Gates also discussed the resumption of the drive against polio.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic. The nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped Pakistan and other places worldwide fight the disease.
Pakistan had hoped to eliminate the disease by 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But there was a surge in new cases the following year. Since January, Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country, including the northwestern region bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani Taliban and other militants regularly stage attacks on polio teams and security forces escorting them because they claim the anti-polio drive is part of an alleged Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence. Attacks on polio teams increased after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse by the CIA in the hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by US commandos in 2011 in Pakistan.
Pakistan halted the drive against polio in March and resumed it last month amid a decline in infections and fatalities from COVID-19.
On Saturday, Pakistan reported only 9 new deaths from the new virus in the past 24 hours, increasing the country’s total of COVID-19 deaths to 6,162. So far, Pakistan has reported 288,047 cases and officials say about 93% of the patients recovered since February, when the country reported its first confirmed case.