Results from a public opinion poll about the perception of gender violence were presented on November 9th. The study was part of the campaign, "Between You and Me, a Different Life,"" a creative and innovate effort undertaken by Oxfam America and six Salvadoran civil society organizations who came together two years ago with the common commitment to prevent gender violence (www.unavidadiferente.org.sv).
Although 83.3 percent of the population considers rape to be a crime, 16.7 percent still denies it. This is an alarmingly high percentage which is then reflected in the high rate of rapes. In its 2005 report on crimes (through November), the Attorney General's office reported 2,296 registered cases of rape, sexual aggression and statutory rape. 40.2 percent of the people polled affirm that the place where these types of crimes most often take place is within the home—a place believed to be among the safest for women, boys and girls—and that the person who most often commits the crime is the step father (58.3 percent).
If the previous information sounds alarming, the panorama gets even worse. Seventy percent of those polled believe that the National Civilian Police (PNC) shows little interest in the rape cases that are presented to them, and 20 percent think the PNC could care less. At the same time, the PNC is one of the agencies where people most often go to denounce an act of violence. This was shown by another study done by the Human Rights Ombudswoman's office, which was also supported by Oxfam America.
This study, in addition to asking about the treatment that women receive in the different institutions of the State, also investigated the situation of gender violence within these very institutions. As well as a high rate of sexual harassment, there is a high degree of discrimination in the way women are treated and in opportunities that exist for them. Furthermore, the study reveals salary inequality between men and women. It highlights that although most of the women have a university degree, they usually don't denounce sexual harassment for fear of losing their job or other acts of revenge. Harassers operate with an alarming degree of impunity. In only 3 percent of the cases where harassment was denounced were the perpetrators fired or transferred.
The Human Rights Ombudswoman's Office convened many public functionaries from the aforementioned offices in order to share the results and said they would follow up.