Domestic violence used to be rampant in parts of Bolivia. With a new program by Samaritan's Purse, those who were committing the crimes are now thinking twice.
Eugenia Lopez is a Samaritan’s Purse social worker in the Bolivia office.
Seven of 10 women in Bolivia are victims of domestic violence. Such violence includes physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Sadly, many of these women never receive justice because they have no place to appeal or are afraid of social repercussions.Help Protect Vulnerable WomenThis injustice was the norm in the locations where we were implementing our projects. One of the main factors leading to domestic abuse was the lack of a governmental entity open to receiving complaints. Offenders were left unpunished, and incidents recurred.
By God’s grace, we were able to help open an official ombudsman office in Caquiaviri in 2012. This office was the first entity to fight injustice in the area. While we rejoiced over this victory, we knew there was a growing need to implement a similar project in the Bolivian Amazon, another region where we had been working for nearly five years. This region was characterized by a high incidence of domestic violence and teen pregnancies caused by sexual abuse. Again, local inhabitants did not know where to turn when crimes were committed. Thus, violence of many forms was rampant.
We launched a domestic violence program in the Bolivian Amazon toward the beginning of this year. We feel there is so much to be done, yet we thank God for all He has allowed us to accomplish in this short amount of time. One of the victories we celebrate is the life of Beatriz Cuellar.
Beatriz was chosen as the program’s promoter for her community. She immediately began attending all the training sessions, soaking up every word. As a voluntary promoter, Beatriz’s responsibilities included orienting her community in topics of domestic violence and substance abuse, counseling young families, teaching, and reporting cases of rape and domestic violence to local authorities.
Since her election to office, she has experienced several victories. One of such cases involved the rape of a young girl by a ranch landlord. Normally, such cases were overlooked, and crimes were left unpunished. But now that Beatriz had received training and had assumed a position of authority in her community, she felt she had a moral obligation to seek justice.
When the rapist heard that Beatriz was preparing to report him, he threatened to harm her if she followed through. Despite his menacing words, Beatriz stuck to her convictions. The rapist is now in prison.
“Now landlords will think twice before raping a girl,” Beatriz said. “That didn’t used to be the case”.
Beatriz is thankful that she has had the opportunity to receive training from Samaritan’s Purse. She heard the Gospel through training, received Christ, and attends a local church. She now feels prepared and motivated to be a voice for those who are most vulnerable.