Domestic Violence is a growing phenomenon in the Galapagos Islands. At CADI, Centro de Atencion y Desarrollo Integral, or the Center for Domestic Violence, from January to December 2009 there were 768 cases of domestic violence, which includes physical, psychological and sexual abuse. However, in 2010 there were 2506 cases of domestic violence. Galapagos ICE works together with local institutions, including CADI, the Santa Cruz Municipal Government, the Council for Children and Adolescents Rights and the local police department to rehabilitate offenders and help prevent domestic violence.
Domestic violence in the Galapagos Islands
Domestic violence and sexual abuse is a daily phenomenon affecting a large population in Ecuador, and the problem extends to the Galapagos Islands. In the October 2008 INFA report Baseline on the Situation of Children, Adolescents and their Families in the province of Galapagos it states that,
“In general, most focus group participants stated that some physical punishment is necessary to maintain discipline among children and adolescents.”
Domestic violence includes sexual, psychological, verbal and physical abuse. The economic crisis in Ecuador in the nineties led to many broken homes in a culture that can be best described as transient. Bad role models led to violence being passed on from generation to generation. On top of that the Galapagos’ isolated location and growing drug and alcohol abuse problem plays a large role in the growing number of domestic violence cases being reported. The main challenge is in changing behavior, teaching children and parents about morals and values and thereby breaking the cycle of violence.
The story so far
In the Santa Cruz Municipal Government Administration from 2005-2014 mayor of Santa Cruz, Leopoldo Bucheli and his wife Brenda Flor Gil, President of the Patronato realized the seriousness of the increase of domestic violence and. The Patronato is a municipal government department that works with the rights of children, adolescents and the elderly; the improvement of the social and cultural community, and aids in assistance for those with low income for medical emergencies.
In 2005 the Patronato started with one psychologist, Patricio Pardo and one social worker, Esther Cobena to work with the issues at hand. In 2008 the Patronato signed an agreement with MIES, the Ministry of Social and Economic Inclusion, that created CADI, the Centro de Altercion Desarrato Integral (CADI) that consists of a coordinator, social worker, psychologist and lawyer. Their main focus is to work with domestic violence victims and increase the awareness in the local community through workshops. Patricio Pardo, director of CADI (a center for victims of domestic violence in Santa Cruz Island), stated that there were 768 cases of domestic violence in 2009. This number is equal to 19% of the population. Though CADI works with victims, they cannot work with the aggressors simultaneously which means there isn’t a structure in place to rehabilitating offenders and breaking the violent cycle that had become engrained in the daily life.
A volunteer from Alaska, Lisa Schrier, suggested we use HEALS™, which is a program that has proven effective in changing the behavior of someone with anger management issues. Galapagos ICE, led by Lisa, trained the local police department to start a rehabilitation program based on the HEALS™ program. The basic concepts of HEALS™ were adapted to suit the Galapagos culture and were translated into Spanish. Using this toolkit, including a package of information and powerpoint presentation, Emily Pozo visited local jail and gave the heals presentation to the offenders to enhance their understanding of the reasons for their behavior and how to control their anger and emotions. Galapagos ICE is currently working with a new department in at the police station that deals with domestic violence. The team of three uses HEALS™, to rehabilitate domestic violence offenders and bring them to a point where they can function again in society after their release.
Galapagos ICE continues to look for family psychologists to work with the offenders and their family to aid them professionally. If you are a psychologist or social worker please contact someone at Galapagos ICE.
How you can contribute
Galapagos ICE wants to work even closer with the local police department and other local institutions to develop and run rehabilitation and prevention programs. We are always looking for volunteers (in particular psychologists and social workers) to help us develop and run these programs. Ideally volunteers work with us for three to six months. Some examples of projects are:
- Running rehabilitation and awareness workshops within the local community
- Teaching kids and parents about morals and values and how to manage emotions
- Developing Compassionate Parenting programs to help break the cycle of violence
- Participating in and developing of preventative campaigns, such as our Sports program or a Drug & Alcohol Abuse program
- Volunteer with CADI working with domestic violence victims.
One of the prevention campaigns we did at CADI involved students making collages using pictures from magazines as to male and female stereotypes. Then they drew silhouettes of a woman and a man and wrote down what women and men really are.