This article analyses the specific ways in which Latin American countries have judicialised domestic violence over the last decade. In particular, it highlights the new definitions of spousal abuse and procedures adopted in both criminal and non-criminal courts. The region has seen two countervailing tendencies, the first to criminalise, through penal code definitions and higher penalties, the second to divert this offence into legal arenas that tend, either implicitly or explicitly, towards effective decriminalisation and downgrading of this form of social violence due to their emphasis on conciliation and transactional procedures. This has resulted, in many cases, in a two-track, hybridised treatment of domestic violence that is ultimately unsatisfactory in meeting the various needs of women victims.
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