Wave of attacks on women in Peru lays bare official, societal indifference
By Paula Bayarte
Lima, Apr 5 (EFE).- A wave of extreme violence against women and girls in recent weeks has set off alarm bells in Peru, where experts say these incidents are being fueled by societal attitudes about gender roles and systemic neglect.
Over the past several days, two women were burned alive by a partner and ex-partner, respectively; an “influencer” provoked laughter from his friends when he confessed to taking part in a gang rape of a minor; a girl was brutally raped; and a nurse was sexually assaulted by her colleagues at a hospital.
“Ultimately, each case reveals a system that isn’t working,” Eliana Revollar, the national ombudswoman, told Efe.
Peru registered 136 femicides in 2021, 137 in 2022 and 40 in the first three months of this year. In March alone, a woman was killed every three days.
“There’s a serious problem in that prejudices and stereotypes of women continue to affect the work of police, prosecutors and judges,” Melissa Guillen, spokeswoman for the Manuela Ramos feminist organization, told Efe.
Guillen and Revollar says laws, mechanisms and protocols are in place in Peru, but consciousness and a willingness to bring about change are lacking within society and in the chain of people who attend to women who come forward to report violence.
“It’s noteworthy that despite the seriousness of these incidents in recent days, there still hasn’t been a different, more vigorous response from the government,” Revollar said, adding that several tasks tremain pending in Peru.
Those include initiatives to promote prevention and sexual education, as well as grassroots work to encourage respect for women and to foster dialogue and non-violent resolutions to interpersonal disputes.
Guillen also says a nationwide specialized justice system is needed so cases can be handled from a gender perspective and with knowledge of the legal framework.
Revollar, for her part, expressed the need to restructure and strengthen the Aurora program, which oversees a network of emergency centers for women and an emergency hotline (100).
“We’re coping with serious setbacks. We have no type of support from Congress nor, as we’ve seen, from the executive branch either … What little has been gained in terms of rights for (women) is being rolled back,” Guillen said.
She added that a recent National Institute of Statistics and Information poll showed that 30 percent of those surveyed believe that if a woman is disrespectful to her husband she deserves “some kind of punishment” and that a wife should always be available for sexual intercourse when her partner desires it.
The government also has come under criticism for comments made by Women and Vulnerable Populations Minister Nancy Tolentino, who after expressing her condolences to the family of a woman burned alive in Lima said she hoped “young people would make good choices about who they choose to be with.”
Dina Boluarte, a conservative who is Peru’s first female president, still has not denounced her minister’s remarks.
Guillen said Tolentino’s victim-blaming not only reflected her own thoughts but also those of much of society.
Revollar, for her part, said those women with the courage to come forward and denounce crimes are victims of two types of violence when their cases do not prosper – that perpetrated by their direct aggressor and a more hidden kind inflicted by an “indolent state” that abandons her. EFE