Peru officially added femicides to the country's penal code in 2011.
Ciudad Juarez in Mexico is usually associated with the gender-based murders of women yet femicides are a problem throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Such is the case of Peru where the government revealed alarming data on violence against women.
According to Peru’s Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations, Carmen Omonte, at least fifty-six confirmed femicides took place during the first six months of this year. At his pace, the number of confirmed femicides would be less than the 131 detected in 2013. Nevertheless, the eighty-eight suspected femicides cases between January and June of this year could outpace the 151 possible instances believed to have occurred last year.
In light of theses statistics, Omonte said that her ministry was working on a protocol “across multiple sectors” to better address the “serious problem” of violence against women and femicides. Yet the minister, who admitted last month to have been the target of sexual harassment, urged female victims of violence to speak up and not live in fear.
“It’s still an uphill battle in getting women to report that they’ve been assaulted, and to stop [women] from assuming it’s a natural thing to just suffer in silence… However, I believe that little by little, society and the government, working together, are helping more women to take heart and go to the authorities,” Omonte said.
Earlier this month, Omonte joined former Olympian and revered figure Natalia Malaga in launching a public campaign aimed at encouraging women to stand up for their rights. The program could help combat feelings of machismo still prevalent in Peru:
“In many homes in Peru and other countries, girls are still brought up to assume a role in society that is secondary to a man, accepting whatever he has in mind,” said Angelica Fuentes, the Mexican director of a foundation aimed at empowering Latin American women.
“As women, we need to understand that all change starts with education. In many cases, we generate machismo ourselves through the differences between our children at home.”
Machismo runs strong in Peru, where 65 percent of men think that if women wear provocative clothing they open themselves up to disrespect, according to a June survey by polling firm Ipsos.The data on femicides comes following two high-profile cases of violence and intolerance against women in Peru. Last March, popular cumbia musician Edita Guerrero died of an aneurism that may have been caused when her husband assaulted her. Magaly Solier, the actress best known for starring in the film “The Milk of Sorrow” (“La Teta Asustada”), alleged nearly two months ago that a man rubbed up against her and masturbated on a public bus Lima.
“It’s shameful and disgusting to have to face these actions. It’s horrible,” said Solier after she formally denounced the incident took place in front of dozens of passengers who did nothing to defend her.
“There are is too much violence, too much harassment, too many rapes in Peru. This has got to stop,” an angry Solier added.
Video Sources – YouTube users MIMP TV, 24HorasPTV and teleSUR
Online Sources – CIP Americas Program; The Latin Americanist; Peru.com; Peru This Week; BBC Mundo; The Raw Story