BMJ Case Reports 2018; doi:10.1136/bcr-2018-226048
  • Global health

Challenges facing a woman wishing to report intimate partner violence in Belize

  1. Trevor Romo2,3
  1. 1Department of Neurosurgery, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Hillside Health Care International, Punta Gorda, Belize
  3. 3Pacific University College of Health Professions, Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Oscar James MacCormac, oscar.maccormac{at}
  • Accepted 19 October 2018
  • Published 1 November 2018


We present a case of a 29-year-old woman who presented to a volunteer-run primary care facility in Southern Belize. Her initial presentation was vaginal itching and white discharge; she also requested insertion of a sub-dermal contraceptive implant. During the insertion, marks suspicious for deliberate self-harm were noticed on the patient’s arm, and on further exploration she revealed she was being physically and emotionally abused by her husband. With some encouragement, she requested help in taking further action to preserve her safety; however, in Belize clinicians have no power to assist in cases involving adults. Therefore, the victim should self-present to a police station, resulting in a significant potential barrier to reporting intimate partner violence (IPV). Here we discuss this barrier further, as well as other barriers that exist to reporting IPV, and discuss possible policy changes that may improve the situation in Belize.


  • Contributors OJM was responsible for consultation, consent and drafting of the original manuscript. TR was responsible for manuscript review, patient follow-up and additional editing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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