Has your husband ever hit you? Thrown you down the stairs? Threatened to re-arrange your face with a broken bottle? If not, and you live in Mexico, you have been lucky.
Spousal abuse in Mexico is endemic. The latest (2016) Survey on the Dynamics of Relationships in Households, which measures violence against women in this country found that, across the country, 66 of every 100 women with a partner has suffered some form of abuse and violence throughout their relationship. In Puerto Vallarta 75% of these women are hurt physically and financially. Because of their injuries they are not well enough to work and, in 2016, it is estimated that each woman lost 30 days a year of paid work because of violence. That’s a whole month of wages!
It gets worse. Spousal abuse has left millions of Mexican women single with children. Many move in with relatives to escape the aggression but many have nowhere to go. The Banderas Bay Women’s Shelter provides a refuge in this area for a few of these families. It accepts women and children who have been referred to them from DIF (the social services department of the federal government), the Justice Centre for Women, The Women´s Institute, the Secretary of Health and from other shelters across the country. All of the women have been subject to “extreme” domestic violence and their lives are endangered.
Although the demand is great, the local shelter can handle only 6 – 8 families at one time or, perhaps, 24 to 32 a year. The average stay is about three months but individual families may need more than that. Typically a woman arrives with three children but, if she is indigenous, that number is likely to be five.
According to David Zude, the President of the organization that runs the shelter, it provides for all of the needs of the families; food, hygiene, clothing, medical care, social worker services, professional services of psychologists and legal services. While the shelter is helped by grants from the federal government it needs private funding to cover the shortfall.
This is the only women’s shelter in this part of the country and a woman and her family, who cannot get in here, have to go to Guadalajara, a five-hour bus ride from here. Many times that is simply impossible and they end up back on the streets.
The Banderas Bay Women’s Shelter is registered as a 501c3 charity in the USA. You can make donations through www.compassionforthefamily.com
The International Friendship Club (IFC) is proud to support the shelter with a monthly contribution towards its operating costs and the club would welcome donations of children’s books (in Spanish) so that the shelter could start a small library for the children; some of whom may never have read a book in their lives. You can drop the books off at the IFC office, located above HSBC in downtown, on Insurgentes and Libertad.
We can’t help everyone but we can help someone.