Women’s Day in Peru marked by ongoing political crisis

Lima, Mar 8 (EFE).- Peru’s observance Wednesday of International Women’s Day was marked by the political crisis that has gripped the Andean nation for the last three months, with calls for more democracy accompanying the usual demands for an end to discrimination.

“We demand a prioritization of the agenda of women’s rights in this context of political and social crisis that we know is very serious and which must be addressed by authorities,” Liz Melendez, director of the feminist organization Flora Tristan, told EFE.

“The struggle for equality, against violence, discrimination and for democracy cannot be set aside,” she said.

The theme of Wednesday’s marches across Peru was “Women in resistance. For life and democracy,” alluding to opposition to transitional President Dina Boluarte, whose disapproval rating stands at 77 percent, according to results of a recent survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP).

Then-Vice President Boluarte was elevated to the highest office on Dec. 7, when congress ousted elected President Pedro Castillo after he tried to dissolve the legislature and begin preparations for a constitutional convention.

Castillo’s removal spurred protests that have led so far to 76 deaths, the majority of them demonstrators killed by security forces.

Clad in red skirts, women of the Marcha Roja (Red March) group gathered Wednesday in front of the Palace of Justice to perform a dance inspired by a poem of Cesar Vallejo, one of Peru’s greatest writers.

“As women of Lima we must reclaim the voice that has passed to the comrades of the provinces,” performer Melissa, a drama student, told EFE, referring to the concentration of protests in southern Peru, far from the capital.

Indeed, some indigenous Aymara women from the south were in Lima on Wednesday to mount a peaceful sit-in to demand Boluarte’s resignation.

The southerners brought with them some of the reed rafts used on Lake Titicaca, filled with placards demanding justice and equality, Peruvian flags and black banners of mourning.

“We believe that it is an illegitimate government in the sense that it violates fundamental rights and human rights as it has done since the explosion of the crisis with the massacres in Ayacucho, Puno and other parts of the country,” Melendez said.

Another of the Marcha Roja dancers, Carla Coronado, said that Peru finds itself in the “context of dictatorship in which the rights of people who protest peacefully in the streets of Lima are violated and in the regions, where we have seen the violent and racist action of the police.”

“We want a life without discrimination, for little girls and adolescents to live without sexual violence, which claims thousands of victims every year,” Melendez said. “In 2022 alone, 8,100 rapes of girls and adolescents that are then also forced to continue with a pregnancy that results from rape.”

Melissa said that in her family’s hometown in the interior, people continue to regard a woman as the property of her husband.

“We have to end that thinking,” she said. EFE pbc/dr

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