- The IRC identified psychological violence as the most common type reported by Venezuelan women that participated in programs in Colombia (40%), Peru (38%) and Venezuela (64%).
- Current or former partners were the perpetrators in most cases across the three countries.
New York, NY, November 25, 2022 — Gender-based violence represents an underlying risk for women affected by the Venezuelan crisis, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned after analyzing data collected between 2020 and 2022.
The IRC examined information from case management and protection programs implemented in Colombia, Peru and through local organizations in Venezuela. Based on the insights provided by more than 2,200 women, the IRC identified that:
- Psychological violence was the most reported type in all three countries, as expressed by 64% of women in Venezuela, 40% in Colombia and 38% in Peru.
- In Venezuela, the second most reported type was physical violence, related to 20% of the cases.
- In Colombia, physical violence was reported as much as psychological violence, affecting 40% of the surveyed women.
- In Peru, where one in four women reported having experienced more than one type of violence, physical aggressions were the second most common type, with 25% of the cases.
Marianne Menjivar, Director for the Venezuela Crisis Response at the IRC, said:
“In a world where women are exposed to different types of violence just because of who we are, those living in the middle of a humanitarian crisis are even in more danger. That’s particularly the case for Venezuelan women, not only in their home country but also in the communities where they are in transit or trying to resettle, since every day they encounter marginalization, unequal access to assistance and discrimination.
“When programs are designed to respond to the most urgent needs of Venezuelans, we need to ensure that existing protection and integration mechanisms are strengthened to create the conditions for women and girls to rebuild their lives free of violence.”
In addition to hunger and economic downturn, women in Venezuela face gender-based violence on a daily basis. For instance, Utopix has reported that, during the first nine months of the year, there was one femicide every 37 hours. Based on information provided by 792 women who participated in case management programs implemented through local partners–and funded by the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)–between January 2020 and October 2022, the IRC found that:
- Psychological violence was the most common type, reported by 64% of women, followed by physical violence (20%) and sexual violence (12%).
- In most cases violence was perpetrated by someone close to the survivor: their current or former partner (58%), another relative (11%) or a primary caregiver (6%).
- Regardless of the type of violence experienced, 4 in 5 women expressed they did not want to report the case to the authorities, even if 74% mentioned the incidents were recurrent.
Women and girls represent 77% of the almost 355,000 cases of domestic violence registered in Colombia between January 2019 and January 2020 and, during the first ten months of this year, at least 500 femicides have been tracked. Venezuelan women and girls in the country are at risk of experiencing gender-based violence as they face marginalization, xenophobia and are subject to abuse and exploitation.
The IRC is currently implementing women’s protection and empowerment programs in Colombia. After analyzing information provided by 1,489 women that participated in case management projects–funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the European Union (EU), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO)–from January to October 2022, the IRC identified that:
- Psychological and physical violence were the most reported types, related to 40% of the cases each, followed by sexual violence (14%).
- Most women (68%) indicated that the perpetrator was their partner and 5% identified another member of their family.
Additionally to the case management project, the IRC reviewed information provided by 296 women during a psychosocial evaluation conducted in Nariño, Northern Santander, Antioquia and Cundinamarca. Psychological and physical violence were also the most common types experienced by women (35% and 20%, respectively), and economic violence was in third position, with 15% of the cases. Of the surveyed women, at least 42% expressed they had felt in danger during the last year, with 10% mentioning sexual harrassment as one of the identified risks.
Gender-based violence is an everyday challenge in Peru, where from January to October 2022 there have been at least 101 femicides, according to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations. When the IRC conducted a needs assessment in Peru in 2021, gender-based violence was constantly mentioned by Venezuelan women. After launching the response in the country in early 2022, the IRC analyzed data provided by 86 women who have participated in a case management program (funded by the European Union) between June and October, concluding that:
- Of the surveyed women, 24% reported they had experienced more than one type of violence. Almost 40% of women reported experiencing psychological violence, 25% reported physical violence and economic and sexual violence were mentioned by 5% each.
- In 53% of the cases, violence was perpetrated by a former partner while the current partner was responsible in 16% of the cases. Although most women expressed they did not want to report the situation to the authorities (71%), 5% were already following a legal process.
The IRC’s Response to the Venezuela Crisis
With the Venezuelan crisis in its 7th year, the IRC is actively working to promote durable solutions, with an approach to bridge humanitarian needs with long-term development opportunities and sustained results. The IRC is currently working in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru–the main host countries for Venezuelans–as well as through local organizations in Venezuela. Our work includes ensuring that government systems are strengthened to respond to multiple needs of both host populations and Venezuelans, while promoting their integration into their new communities.
In relation to gender-based violence, the IRC implements different programs focused on prevention and response, including case management; awareness group sessions or workshops; collaboration with community leaders (advocates) and the creation of safe spaces.