In response to recent news of perpetrators committing violent crimes against women and getting lenient sentences, groups of protesters totaling more than 50,000 people gathered in the capital city of Lima and eight other cities in Peru for an unprecedented march.
Officials claim this was the largest gathering of protesters in the nation’s history.
“Today, the 13th of August, is a historic day for this country because it represents a breaking point and the start of a new culture to eradicate the marginalisation that women have been suffering, especially with violence,” said president of the Peruvian judicial system Victor Ticona to The Guardian.
Though the event was in response to violent crimes against women in Peru, it was inspired by a chain of mass protests in other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina that have taken place over the past year.
These marches have been united under the hashtag #NiUnaMenos, which was taken from the slogan “Ni una mujer menos, ni una muerte más” (Not one less woman, not one more death) coined by Susana Chavez Castillo, the Mexican poet and human rights activist who was found murdered in her home back in 2011.
“This march is a cry against impunity, it’s a cry for equality and for the decent treatment of women,” said Peru’s minister for women, Ana María Romero, according to The Guardian. “It will be a milestone, it will mark a before and after. There’s more citizen awareness about women’s rights.”
According to Romero, an average of 10 women are murdered per month in Peru, and about 20 more are survivors of murder attempts.
“If you add to those 10 who lose their lives to the 20 victims who are saved by the skin of their teeth, then we are practically talking about one [attack] per day,” said Romero. “Of those 10 who are killed around six are under the age of 20.”
The Peru march, however, not only was in protest of violence against women, but also failure on the part of Peru’s justice system to punish perpetrators.
A recent report by Peru’s ombudsman’s office confirms these allegations against the nation’s law enforcement officials as the study found that in 81 percent of cases examined, no measure was taken by the legal system to protect women who survived murder attempts and reported them to the authorities. As such, 24 percent of the women who made these reports to the police were later murdered in a subsequent attack by the assailant against whom they had filed the reports.
According to the World Health Organization, as reported by Yahoo! News, Peru is ranked third-highest in the world for number of women between the ages 15 and 49 who are victims of sexual assault, just behind Bangladesh and Ethiopia.
Peru’s newly elected president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, participated in the march, which ended in front of the palace of justice, along with his wife, Nancy Lange.
Earlier that same day, the president announced plans to create safe facilities for women who are victims of violent attacks to report the incidents in private in hopes to address the issue of violence not being reported or women becoming repeat victims after the assailants get wind of the reports.
The new administration, which has not even been in power three weeks, has reportedly been advocating better police training, particularly regarding how to handle domestic violence and sexual assault cases, establishing more women’s shelters, and building more emergency crisis centers throughout the country.
According to a poll released Saturday, 74 percent of Lima citizens, Peru’s capital city, believe the cultural values of their country have a masculine bias. The judicial and law enforcement system’s tendency toward machismo is believed by some to be reflective of these values.
The Peru march of 50,000 people, however, reflects a strong drive to rectify this.
[Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP Images]