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Page last updated at 04:03 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 05:03 UK

Venezuela abuse efforts 'at risk'

By James Ingham
BBC News, Caracas

Domestic abuse victim posed by model
Local groups say only one in nine women reports abuse

Amnesty International has urged Venezuela to do more to protect women from domestic violence.

The rights group says a law passed last year which classifies domestic violence as a violation of human rights was a step in the right direction.

But Amnesty says the authorities have done little to implement it. Amnesty estimates that one woman in Venezuela is attacked every 15 minutes.

Latin America has some of the world's worst levels of domestic violence.

As in the rest of the world, women in Venezuela are still suffering violence at the hands of their partners or other family members.

Helpline

In a report focusing on this often hidden problem, Amnesty has both praised and criticised the Venezuelan government.

It says a law classifying domestic violence as a violation of human rights goes some way to improving the situation. But it says little is being done to implement it.

There are still only three women's shelters in the whole country, far fewer than the number promised a decade ago. And the police and other authorities have not been properly trained to handle this kind of crime. A helpline, however, has been more successful.

Last year, 4,500 women called for advice. But local organisations estimate that only one in nine women reports abuse.

Women here are taking more control of their own lives and form an instrumental part in running community affairs.

Housewives and mothers have also been given more rights and benefits. But the report warns that the good example set by Venezuela is in danger unless more resources are allocated to this problem.


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