Violence against women and girls is a global phenomenon. It happens every day, every hour,
and every minute. It is an infringement of women’s fundamental human rights. It not only
affects women who are battered, raped or sexually abused, it affects all women. It has serious
economic and non-economic costs for society.
Gender-based violence is violence that is directed mainly toward women because they are
women or that affects women disproportionately. For the past several decades, women and
women’s organizations around the world have called for action to provide a better response to
victims of gender-based violence and for changes in the societal conditions that provide a
breeding ground for this violence. Belize has been no exception.
As in many other countries, Belize has taken some steps to address the issue of gender-based
violence. These have included legislative reform, the establishment of two shelters for women,
and the establishment of a Domestic Violence Unit in the Police Department, among others.
Yet in Belize, as elsewhere, the impact of these changes has been limited.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s In-depth Study on Violence Against Women found
…states worldwide are failing to implement in full the international standards on violence
against women. They are not challenging gender-based discrimination and are allowing
crimes to be committed with impunity. Failing to hold perpetrators accountable not only
encourages further abuses, but also gives the message that violence against women is
acceptable or normal.