Over 900 women and girls have been reported missing over the past few months in Peru. The tragic news comes as the South American country is battling with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The virus has had a severe impact, infecting around 400,000 people and claiming the lives of 20,000.
According to France 24, a number of government officials fear that the missing persons and the coronavirus pandemic are related. Peru has long been plagued with a history of domestic violence, and many fear that the mandated lockdowns have only aggravated the problem by keeping abusers and their victims in close quarters.
The Andalusian nation is the third hardest hit by COVID-19 in Latin America, with only Brazil and Mexico surpassing its numbers. In addition, unemployment has spiked due to the crisis -- a fact that has likely only increased tensions in the home.
"During the quarantine, from March 16 to June 30, 915 women in Peru were reported missing," explained Eliana Revollar, who is leads the National Ombudsman office's mission for gender equality.
Revollar added that officials believe that a majority of the 915 may are feared to be dead.
Though the media describes those missing as women, a more apt description could be girls. Authorities estimate that around 70 percent of those who cannot be found are minors.
The high tally is fortunately grabbing the attention of Peruvian government authorities, who have expressed their commitment to investigating the matter.
"We need to know what has happened to them," stated ombudsman Walter Gutierrez.
Compounding the situation is that police are often resistant to efforts to quell the problem of domestic violence. According to France 24, law enforcement has even gone so far as to "make fun of victims" or claim that those who are missing have left their homes willingly.
The country does not have a database for missing persons. However, Revollar is hoping to change that by creating a national list. The hope is that such a registry will help officials be more proactive in finding those missing and punish those responsible.
In addition, it could help provide a more accurate picture of domestic violence in the country. Official numbers often grossly underestimate the true number of missing persons. For example, the South American nation tallied 166 female homicides last year. However, just 17 had been reported missing before their bodies were found.
Meanwhile, in other South American news, scientists have discovered that high altitudes appear to have a drastic impact on the coronavirus's contagion and death rate, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.