Demonstrators rise their painted hands during a peaceful march against gender violence in Santiago, Chile, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

If you’ve been following the fight against gender violence in Argentina, you may remember how in 2012, the national government created the Single Registry of Cases of Violence Against Women (RUCVM). The registry, which was instituted as a consequence of Law 26.485 enacted in 2009, brought to light some shocking data. One particularly grim statistic that made national headlines was the realization that every day at least 55 women declare themselves victims of gender violence in Argentina.

Now, Indec, Argentina’s statistics bureau and the organisation that was appointed to develop the RUCVM in 2012, is working on a new survey to gage how many women are victims of violence, whether it be sexual, physical or psychological. Cristina Massa, head of the Office of Sectoral Statistics, told El Cronista that the agency is in the process of preparing the survey and is aiming to launch it next year, with the first results being released at the beginning of 2018.

Unlike the RUCVM, the survey will be an independent measurement that is dependent on the responses of each woman as well as information from organisations and the police, rather than just a record of official charges or complaints. This should yield more accurate data as it reaches out to the many women who are not able to officially report the violence they experience.

Violence Against Women: A global pandemic that comes in many forms. Whether in the home, in the street or in armed conflict. Physical, sexual and psychological violence. Via Fundación IRFA

Why it matters

Having concrete figures on this form of violence is crucial in forming effective policy that can combat it. Hard data helps visualise the severity and size of the problem, but it’s also useful for providing information on the situation within each region, what the most urgent problems are, and forces the State to respond through comprehensive public policies.

The survey will presumably compliment the remarkable work being done by organizations in Argentina like Ni Una Menos, allowing them to put more pressure on authorities to tackle the lack of funding and effective policy response.

In order to collate data from the entire country, the National Women’s Council is currently in the process of signing agreements with governors from each province. The plan is for different organisations within the provinces to send information to the Provincial Statistics Offices (DPE), who will then pass it on to Indec.

Massa assured El Cronista that the taskforce in charge of the survey is not experiencing any resistance from the provinces – and rightly so – but there are large discrepancies between provinces in terms of how advanced they are in their work on the issue. Two regional workshops have already been held with professionals from the Office of Sectoral Statistics, in order to raise awareness about gender violence and how to work on inter-agency relationships. These workshops have had almost perfect attendance.

Surveys like the one Indec is proposing are not easy to pull off well though, which explains the ostensibly long time frame. To get accurate information, the organizers have to be very sensitive to the fact that it is difficult for women to talk about their experiences, particularly if they feel afraid. Understandably, a woman may not be able to answer if there is a situation of violence at home. Massa explained, for example, that the survey “cannot be called ‘Gender Violence Survey’ because women may not engage. Nor can it be attached to another survey because we would be distorting the other operations.”

The survey’s creators need to be sensitive to the fact that it’s difficult for women to answer questions about domestic violence. Photo via Voces Escritas

This year, Indec decided to form a gender unit within the Office of Sectoral Statistics. Professionals from multiple disciplines will be involved so that all operations carried out by the data collection agency will have a comprehensive perspective on gender specific issues. Good work, Indec!