The Global Report

Bolivia: Politics, a risky business for women

Added under Women

Taking an active part in politics in Bolivia can be a hazardous undertaking. Hundreds of reports of violence against women participating in politics attest to the risk. And while attacks go unpunished, a bill designed to protect the rights of women occupying public office has spent almost a decade in Congress waiting to be approved.

MarĂ­a Eugenia Rojas, leader of the Bolivian Association of Women Town Councillors (ACOBOL), which works for the right of women to hold public office, told IPS that the members of her organisation are in dire need of a law that will protect them and raise awareness on a critical but little known reality.

But she also admitted to weariness, brought on by Congress' lack of sensitivity to the problem. Things hardly improved for women in politics even after President Evo Morales took office in 2006, representing the interests of the country's impoverished indigenous people and ushering in social changes. Not even the new constitution in effect since February 2009, which strengthens women's rights, has had much of an effect in that area yet.

When asked to give an example of a particularly alarming case, Rojas said all cases of violence targeting women politicians are equally disturbing. "Which is worse? The case of the councilwoman who was attacked and suffered a miscarriage? Or the one that was beaten within an inch of her life? Or the municipal official who was raped?" she asked.

But she had no doubt about a common denominator in the more than 200 complaints filed through the association alone: "They all involve gender-based discrimination and violence."

Sources: Inter Press Service

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