Peruvians demand sex education to protect kids from violence

By Monica Martinez

Lima, Dec 23 (EFE).- Nearly 12,000 Peruvian children and adolescents have been victims of sexual aggression in 2021 and a coalition of organizations says that sex education in schools must be part of efforts to address the problem.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, the government’s 416 centers serving victims of sexual or domestic violence registered 12,828 cases involving minors.

During the same period, authorities received 5,728 criminal complaints for sexual assault against people 17 and under, according to the Alliance for Comprehensive Sexual Education, which comprises more than 25 youth and civic groups.

Adolescents also account for 14 percent of the 1,563 women slain in Peru since 2009.

Yamile Cortez, a student leader in Lima’s Villa El Salvador district, told Efe that the incidence of sexual violence has risen during the Covid-19 pandemic, “especially among minors” and that comprehensive sex education would provide young people with tools to protect themselves.

Children and teens must learn “not to remain silent in the face of threats from aggressors because in many cases they don’t report it or talk about it because they’re afraid of what could be done t them and they don’t know where to go,” she said.

Comprehensive Sex Education was approved in principle by the education ministry in 2008 and a plan to incorporate the subject across various areas of the curriculum emerged in 2017.

Implementation was supposed to begin in June, but the program has yet to really get off the ground amid opposition from the political right, Elga Prado, coordinator of the Manuela Ramos feminist organization, told Efe.

“When there are fundamentalist, conservative, anti-gender, anti-human rights movements, the result is backward steps or things stay where they are, they stall,” she said.

Prado pointed to Fuerza Popular, the party of three-time defeated presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, and Avanza Pais, led by economist Hernando de Soto, who was an adviser to imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori (Keiko’s father).

“They are the parties of the far right who ally against the focus on gender and the entire issue of sexuality and macho violence,” she said.

Many primary-school teachers are themselves in need of sex education, the activist said.

“The matter of sexual violence has been made visible at an alarming level, girls under the age of 10 who have ended up pregnant, which reveals that home is not a safe space,” Prado said.

“Girls need tools for self-care, to identify risks in time,” she said. EFE mmr/dr

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