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Uruguay: Update to URY20916.E of 25 July 1995 on whether the legislation on domestic violence is enforced and update to URY33928.E of 9 March 2000 on protection to female victims of domestic violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 19 July 2001
Citation / Document Symbol URY37420.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uruguay: Update to URY20916.E of 25 July 1995 on whether the legislation on domestic violence is enforced and update to URY33928.E of 9 March 2000 on protection to female victims of domestic violence, 19 July 2001, URY37420.E, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Uruguay has no law specific to domestic violence (Social Watch 2001), although a domestic violence bill is being considered for adoption in the Uruguayan parliament (Radio El Espectador 29 May 2001; Revista Marejada 10 Nov. 2000; UNDP 29 Nov. 1999).

However, within the Law on Public Security (Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana) of 12 July 1995, domestic violence is criminalized in Uruguay (UNDP 29 Nov. 1999). According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), however, the law had not produced the expected results and added that only 3 per cent of those accused under the domestic violence provision had been prosecuted (ibid.). On the issue of the 1995 law, IPS reported that:

Despite the slow progress in changing the habits of citizens, police and courts, analysts say the 1995 law has provided a key tool for women in situations of domestic violence. However, some experts see it as counterproductive for the law to provide for intervention by the state in cases in which the victim has not filed charges (8 Mar. 1999).

In an article published on the Inter-American Commission of Women Website, Angelina Ríos characterized the domestic violence legislation in Uruguay as an [translation] "isolated effort" as it was relegated to only one article within the Law on Public Security (2000).

Country Reports 2000 states that a new law was enacted in June 2000 that increased the sentences for sex crimes, including rape (2001, Section 5). Although, spousal abuse and spousal rape are covered under the Uruguyan Criminal Code, the judicial system seldom initiates criminal charges for these crimes (ibid.).

Graciela Dufau, author of a study on domestic violence in Uruguay commissioned by the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women's Rights (CLADEM), stated that there were [translation] "serious gaps in the regulatory framework that were unfavourable to the situation of women victims of domestic violence" (El Observador 20 Nov. 2000). Dufau further stated that every nine days in Uruguay, a woman dies because of an unresolved situation of domestic violence or because the situation was not responded to adequately (ibid.). She added that there were no institutions in the country with the training required to resolve situations of domestic violence, and that currently, the institutions responsible for dealing with domestic violence treated the issue as a family or criminal problem, as opposed to treating it as a social one (ibid.).

Radio El Espectador reported that the Women's Police Station (Comisaría de la Mujer) had received 1,644 complaints of domestic violence of which 41 resulted in judicial proceedings leading to prison sentences and 45 leading to sentences without prison (29 May 2001).

With regard to attitudes about reporting domestic violence, Mabel Simois of the Women's Home of La Union, a non-governmental organization which provides counselling and aid to female victims of violence, said that "women feel 'the police can't solve the problem'" (St. Petersburg Times 2 Aug. 2000). Similarly, Elena Fonseca, host of a radio program for women, related the story of a woman who had reported domestic violence by her husband 17 times to police, with no action taken because, in the opinion of the police, the husband was "just" an alcoholic (ibid.). Women's organizations have stated that "the courts and police often fail to act when women complain of spousal abuse" (ibid.).

On protection for women victims of domestic violence, St. Petersburg Times reported in August 2000 that Montevideo had "only a handful of women's shelters, open only at night" (2 Aug. 2000). The Montevideo-based magazine Revista Marejada published a list of governmental and non-governmental organizations that provide services to victims of domestic violence:

Asociación Civil Arcoiris (Civil Association Arcoiris). Service to minors. Cnel. Muñoz 3993 – 215 1418

Asociación Civil Bethania (Civil Association Bethania). Misiones 1264 – 916 7923

Asociación Nacional para el Beneficio de la Niñez Maltratada (National Association for the Welfare of Mistreated Children, ANIMA), Hospital Pereira Rossell. Blvr. Artigas 1550 – 708 7741 int. 246

Atención a la Mujer Víctima de Violencia (Service to Women Victims of Domestic Violence, Montevideo Municipal Government, IMM) 401 4177 (Zonales 8, 12 y 17)

Casa de la Mujer de la Unión (Women's House of La Unión). Serrato 2613 – 506 0601

Centro de Asistencia a las Víctimas de Violencia Familiar (Assistance Centre for Victims of Family Violence, Ministry of the Interior). Paraguay 1190 - 901 9907

Centro de Asistencia a la Mujer Maltratada (Assistance Centre for Mistreated Women, CONAMU). Centro Materno Infantil Hospital Maciel. 25 de Mayo 183 – 915 8431

Centro de Asistencia y Apoyo al Varón en Situación de Crisis "Renacer"(Assistence and Support Centre.for Men in Crisis Situations) Miguel del Corro 1474 – 403 4984

Comisaría de la Mujer (Women's Police Station). San José 1126 – 908 5580 / 901 5458

Consultorio de la Facultad de Derecho (Advice Bureau of the Faculty of Law). 18 de Julio 1824 – 400 3055

Defensoría de Oficio de Familia y Menores (Ombudsman for the Family and Minors). Soriano 1230 – 908 7869 / 900 3903

Instituto Mujer y Sociedad, IMS (Institute of Women and Society). Blanes 1231 – 409 3631

Mujer Ahora (Women Now). 400 9641

PLEMUU. Servicio de asistencia psicológica (Psychological Assistance Service). 401 7470 (10 Nov. 2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2000. 2001. United States Department of State, Washington, DC. [Accessed 18 July 2001]

Inter-American Commission of Women. 2000. Angelina Ríos. "Una realidad que golpea asunto publico, dolor privado." [Accessed 17 July 2001]

Inter Press Service (IPS). 8 March 1999. Raul Ronzoni. "Court Absolves Battered Woman in Landmark Ruling." (NEXIS)

El Observador [Montevideo]. 20 November 2000. A. Percovich. "Cada nueve días muere una mujer por violencia doméstica." [Accessed 17 July 2001]

St. Petersburg Times. 2 August 2000. Reese Erlich. "In Uruguay, Violence at Home Widespread." (NEXIS)

Radio El Espectador. 29 May 2001. "Violencia doméstica en el Parlamento." [Accessed 18 July 2001]

Revista Marejada [Montevideo]. 10 November 2000. Walter Román. "La mujer, la última colonia del hombre." [Accessed 18 July 2001]

Social Watch. 2001. Fernando Cortinas. "Uruguay: Would the Last One to Leave Please Turn Off the Lights." [Accessed 17 July 2001]

United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 29 November 1999. "Uruguay: Legislacion sobre violencia." [Accessed 18 July 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


World News Connection

Internet sites including:

Brecha [Montevideo].

Cotidiano Mujer

Fempress [Santiago]. 2000

Mujeres del sur

Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ)

Subrayado [Montevideo]. 2000

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