End of the Year Venezuela Reading II: Women Pushed to the Limit

Another recent report that I would like to highlight is Mujeres al Limite: El peso de la emergencia humanitarian: vulneración de derechos humanos de las mujeres en Venezuela, a collaborative effort by Asociación Venezolana de Sexualidad Alternativa, Asociación Civil Mujeres en Linea, the Centro de Justicia y Paz, and the Centro Hispanoamericano para la Mujer FREYA.

This is a sixty page report that looks at various aspects of women’s rights and how they are being pushed to the limit. Of course, both men and women are affected by Venezuela’s dictatorial slide and economic meltdown, but the report shows that in some areas, women suffer more.

  • In Venezuela it is women who bear the burden of obtaining food and who are most likely to go without. They show data revealing that 90% of time-consuming CLAP and MERCAL purchase are made by women. And women eat fewer types of food with less nutritional value than men do.
  • Of course scarcity of contraceptives disproportionately affects women. The Federación Farmaceutica de Venezuela says that there is currently 90% scarcity in contraceptives (p.22).
  • Maternal mortality has skyrocketed, increasing by 13% in 2014, 9% in 2015 and 65.8% in 2016 (p.26). (For a discussion of the broader significance of this statistic as an indicator of the  state of health care see here.)
  • Women were also the victims of sexual violence in the context of protest arrests and detentions. They review four concrete cases of women detained who were raped or sexually abused.

The report recognizes the efforts the government has made over the years to advocate for women’s rights. But concludes as follows:

While it is worth recognizing the interest in and political will to take on women’s issues at the highest levels of government, the reality is that the efforts made, are not accompanied by concrete measures. In many cases, initiatives go no further than declarations of good will which are diluted over time or simply are not applicable in practice…The result has been a manipulative use of gender issues by the government without substantive improvements in the rights and lives of women. To the contrary, the autonomy of Venezuelan women has been subordinated to a state whose interest in gender issues has been determined by the establishment of clientalist relations which do not represent an advance in terms of rights.