Securing justice for women faced with violence was the focus of a seminar held by The Organization of Americans States (OAS), of which The Bahamas is a member.
The OAS opened its "Human Rights, Violence Against Women and Access to Justice," seminar yesterday at OAS headquarters in Washington DC.
The seminar, held under the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS, was organized with the intent to heighten sensitivity to violence against women along with human rights issues.
The seminar was also designed to encourage the law to respond appropriately to violence against women.
CIM president, Rocío García Gaytán, said violence against women is one of the greatest hindrances to sustainable human development, noting that violence against women is encouraged when it goes unpunished.
"Though all human rights exist in the private as much as in the public sphere, violence against women, in particular the intra-familiar or domestic kinds, is still considered at the social level a private problem that should be resolved between couples," she said.
Gaytán said because of this attitude, it is not addressed in public policy with regards to justice and security.
"An indispensable part of an adequate response against violence against women, without a doubt as in other crimes, is an effective and transparent system of justice," she said.
OAS secretary for political affairs, Víctor Rico, said the human rights system is the foundation of the fights against violence towards women.
"It is not possible to move this action forward without an inter-American and universal framework of protection and defense of human rights," he said. "Without a timely and adequate access to justice, this conceptual framework cannot be effective, it cannot have a concrete result in the reality of our countries."
Rico noted that in Latin America where access to justice is traditionally low, the statistics are even worse when it comes to women, which is usually the case amongst the most vulnerable groups.
Rico however, noted that there has been tremendous progress within the last the last 10 years.
He said the Caribbean and Latin America have made the greatest progress by formally recognizing the rights of women.
Rico said laws and policies have been created specifically to address them.
He said the Caribbean and Latin America have also made the most progress in closing the gap between men and women in education, the labor market, civil rights, rights of property and land in terms of family codes.
"The systematic violence of which women and girls are object in the Americas, and the impunity that is characteristic of this violence are facts that threaten human rights, peace and democratic governance in the region," Rico said.
He noted that it continues to be one of the greatest obstacles.