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    Shelter from the storm.

    Barricklow D

    JOURNAL OF FAMILY WELFARE. 1993 Mar; 39(1):33-5.

    In 1960-70, right-wing, authoritarian governments in Latin America condoned the raping of female political prisoners, thereby setting the tone for civil police to do so. Police officers in Venezuela often rape sex crime victims who seek their help. Caracas' police chief has fired officers for being sexist and taking advantage of women. In 1984, a psychologist formed the Venezuelan Association for an Alternative Sexual Education (AVESA) to give rape victims somewhere to go for counseling. Its sex education programs target diverse groups. Funding from the UN Development Fund for Women launched AVESA's sex education program for police officers in April 1990, which attempts to sensitize police to rape victims. It has trained 450 police officers, 20% of whom are female police officers. A graduate claims that this AVESA training is responsible for him treating a rape victim with dignity which he would not have done before the course. A female police officer says that, before the AVESA course, she would have asked a rape victim what she did to provoke the rape. She credits the course for showing her how deeply ingrained sexism is in society. For example, men in the course blamed women for becoming less desirable after having children and for not wanting to have sexual intercourse anymore, thereby justifying their right to beat them. Statistics confirm that women are indeed afraid of reporting sex crimes to the police. In January-June 1990, there were 37 reported cases of sexual violence, but AVESA provided help to 146 rape victims. A mother of a 5-year old rape victim reported to the media the undignified way the police treated her, resulting in the arrest and conviction of the middle-aged physician who raped her daughter. AVESA also lobbies for changes in the inherently sexist legal system (e.g., it allows men to rape their wives).
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