That’s the word from international rights group, Amnesty International USA, in its latest report card on human rights worldwide.
AI officials said although states in the LATAM and Caribbean region introduced legislation to combat gender-based violence, laws are seldom applied and investigations and prosecutions are rare.
The report cited countries such as Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and Nicaragua, as nations where failing justice systems help perpetuate impunity for gender-based violence and contribute to a climate where such abuse proliferated.
Many of those subjected to gender-based violence were girls under the age of 18, added the report, which pointed to Nicaragua as a nation where there is increasing evidence of widespread sexual abuse of girls and teenagers.
AI also said thousands of women in the region were raped, forcibly disappeared or killed during the year and in certain parts of Guatemala and Mexico, women were at particular risk.
In Guyana, AI said levels of violence against women and girls remained high with UNIFEM stating that one in four women suffered physically abuse in a relationship while in Haiti, the report’s authors said violence against women and girls was pervasive in and around formal and informal camps.
“Lack of security and effective protection mechanisms increased the risks of rape and other forms of sexual violence,” stated the report. “Impunity for these crimes remained a source of concern as very few cases were investigated or prosecuted. Many rape survivors had to overcome fear, discrimination and a lack of financial resources in order to get access to medical care.”
In Jamaica, the report said sexual violence remained widespread and reports of sexual abuse of children rose compared to 2009 while in Trinidad and Tobago, 482 rapes, incest and other sexual offences were reported between January and September 2010 compared to 491 cases in 2009.
The 2011 State of the World’s Human Rights documents abuses in 157 countries and concludes that while the human rights revolution now stands on the threshold of historic change, entrenched powers are using any means necessary to thwart them.
The report documents torture and other ill-treatment in at least 98 countries, specific restrictions on free speech in at least 89 countries, reports on unfair trials in at least 54 countries and highlights cases of prisoners of conscience in at least 48 countries.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General, said, “Courageous people, led largely by youth, are standing up and speaking out in the face of bullets, beatings, tear gas and tanks. This bravery – combined with new technology that is helping activists to outflank and expose government suppression of free speech and peaceful protest – is sending a signal to repressive governments that their days are numbered. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights.”