Preventing Violence against Women
With increasing significance, the world continues to meet issues involving domestic and sexual violence against women. As a country in a continental hotspot for violence against women, Peru is extremely familiar with conflicts involving sexual abuse. According to Freedom House, “spousal abuse is perhaps the greatest problem facing women in Peru today, although recently the government has taken some steps to address the issue” (1). One circumstance that increases the risk of women experiencing sexual violence in Latin America is the fact that governments or professionals overlook the severe issue of violence against women that occurs within their national borders. In 1993, Peru adopted a law against domestic violence which was then amended in May of 2003 in order to remove reconciliation between the aggressor and the victim since it didn’t effectively resolve the conflict. The amendment also called for a police report of the incident within five days of the instance. Medical exams for victims are now free; however, some medical professionals refuse to do them because they don’t want to be involved with the case. This is a prime example of discrimination against women, which is a factor that makes it exponentially more difficult to combat violence against women (2).
In a survey conducted in the United States, 28% of heterosexual women, as opposed to 10% of heterosexual men, had experienced some sort of intimate partner violence which resulted in PTSD, being injured or needing health, or being involved in more social and legal services utilized by said victim. In an assessment of reproductive health surveys in six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean it was found that the proportion of women ever married or in a union that reported physical or sexual violence by a partner was more than twice as high for women who had experienced sexual abuse in childhood as those who had not in all six countries. Women and girls make up 20% of homicide cases internationally, and they also comprise 64% of intimate partner and family-related homicide and 82% of intimate partner homicide alone (4). Additionally, Latin America is also the most common region in the world for domestic and sexual abuse. In 2017, Brazil was the hotspot for femicide, where 1,133 women were killed in just one year.
Existing data on violence against women from sources such as UNFPA, UNICEF, UNODC, UN Women, and WHO regarding the issue of violence against women continues to be a global pandemic and therefore an issue that should be immediately eradicated. After observing the statistics of 2017 and 2018 regarding homicide cases involving women, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted a survey in the U.S. about gender-related crimes that found that 87,000 women and girls were intentionally killed in 2017 and 58% (50,000) of them were killed by partners or family members. While it can be difficult to provide concrete statistics on the cruel numbers of homicides motivated by sexism, this provides light on some cases. UN Women partnered with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in order to create a global non-formal education program in efforts to prevent violence against women by providing young girls with the knowledge on how to avoid domestic violence.
Additionally, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979. CEDAW General Recommendation 35 emphasizes that specific acts of gender-based violence can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment within the context of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 39/46, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. These acts include: “violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as forced sterilization, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, criminalization of abortion, denial or delay of safe abortion and/or post-abortion care, forced continuation of pregnancy, and abuse and mistreatment of women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health information, goods and services, are forms of gender-based violence that, depending on the circumstances, may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
Seeing as how 7 out of 10 women in Peru will experience sexual or domestic abuse in their lifetime, the Peruvian government has begun to take precautions to fully eradicate this issue within its national borders. In order to do this, Peru proposes to implement emergency shelters (CEM’s) for women under the National Program Against Family Violence (created by decree in 25 April 2001). Each CEM has a staff that consists of a medical examiner, a social worker, a lawyer, a reception coordinator, and a coordinator of training programs for local and regional authorities. During 2004, CEM’s carried out 254,788 professional interventions in just 2 years (2002-2004). These interventions also helped women who were experiencing problems other than domestic abuse. With the help provided from these shelters, official reports of domestic violence increased from 29,000 to 30,000 in the same year.
In addition to CEM’s, Peru would like to focus on preventing this issue through legislative reforms. In order to do this, Peru would like to propose two solutions. First, Peru would like to utilize the Inter-American Convention. This convention focused on the punishment, prevention, and the eradication of violence against women by involving Latin-American countries in the discussion of eradicating femicide in their continental borders. This discussion was able to clearly clarify what it means to charge someone with “femicide”, and the fact that countries who are working towards ending this conflict should focus on effective punishment rather than creating impunity. Through this convention, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and El Salvador incorporated the crime of femicide into their legislations, making it a valid charge. Additionally, the sponsors wrote the explicit definition of “femicide” into the treaty, so that judges would not blindly mischarge those who are on trial for femicide, increasing the specificity of various homicide cases against women in Latin America by 33.7%.
The second solution for improving legislative regulations Peru would like to focus on is creating In 1993, Peru adopted a law against domestic violence which was then amended in May of 2003 in order to remove reconciliation between the aggressor and the victim since it didn’t effectively resolve the conflict. The amendment also called for a police report of the incident within five days of the instance. Medical exams for victims are now free; however, some medical professionals refuse to do them because they don’t want to be involved with the case. This is a prime example of discrimination against women, which is a factor that makes it exponentially more difficult to combat violence against women (2).
By considering these statistics, and utilizing these solutions to their full extent, the issue of violence against women can be prevented.