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Broadcast live from the IDB

For a few hours on October 20, the IDB's Washington, D.C., headquarters turned into a sort of radio grand central, as more than a dozen radio talk show hosts broadcast live coverage of "Domestic Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean," a two-day conference attended by some 400 experts from 37 countries.

From portable "studios" set up outside the Bank's Andres Bello Auditorium, the radio hosts took calls from listeners and transmitted discussions in Spanish and English to an estimated audience of 25 million in the United States and Mexico.

The event allowed individuals in their homes and offices to exchange views on domestic violence over the air with leading political and policy-making figures, giving unprecedented exposure to an issue that has long suffered from official neglect.

Among the participants at IDB headquarters was U.S. first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who told listeners that domestic violence against women is one of the most serious and devastating human rights violations in the Americas. Also speaking at the conference were Billie Miller, deputy prime minister of Barbados, Ulrica Messing, minister for equality affairs of Sweden and Mayra Buvinic, chief of the IDB's Social Development Division.

A recent Gallup poll found that between 22 percent and 53 percent of respondents in Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States knew personally of a case of physical aggression in the home. Gallup said that an estimated 30 million U.S. women suffered domestic violence at one time or another. Of those who held jobs outside of the home, between one-half and one-third of the victims said abuse by their spouses resulted in greater job absenteeism and reduced workplace efficiency. Conference speakers noted that figures such as these underscore the need to address domestic violence as a development problem that harms society as a whole.

IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias told participants that the Bank plans to incorporate projects to combat domestic violence into its programs in the areas of health, judicial reform, education, and modernization of the state. The Bank is also financing two specific programs to reduce and prevent domestic violence: one seeks to build organizational networks to prevent domestic violence, and the other is to train judges in domestic violence issues.

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