Monday, June 27, 2005

Culture might be a factor in Hispanic sexual abuse

Megan Butler:

Tuesday night's agenda for the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners included a presentation by police and social workers on the rising frequency of statutory rape among Hispanics.

A recently released report compiled by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department showed there has been a 50 percent increase in sexual assault among the local Hispanic population. But experts say part of that might be attributed to cultural differences.

In many Hispanic cultures, it is acceptable for men to engage in sexual activity with younger women, says Dr. Elizabeth Peterson-Vita, who is speaking this week at a mental health conference in Charlotte. She is focusing on cultural differences concerning North Carolina's growing Hispanic community.

"We always have to look at cultural norms, and if people are coming from other areas and different cultures, we have to understand the culture that they've come from and the ideas they have, which may not be synonymous with American culture and law," she said.

Such culture clashes are to be expected when there is such a large influx of immigrants, social workers say.

"As the Latino population in Charlotte and North Carolina continues to burgeon, there's going to be all sorts of things that come along with that," said Lynn Bradley Hiltz of Hope Haven.

In Mexico, an Unpunished Crime


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