Peru: Women Face Machismo at Home and in the Courts

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Women, there was a 40 percent increase in cases of domestic violence between 2005 and 2009. In 2009, 139 women were murdered, and over 40,000 women sought support from emergency shelters due to a domestic violence incident.
 
The Head of Women’s Affairs in the National Ombudsman’s Office, Teresa Hernandez, explained that often the violence is viewed as justified by those who are supposed to protect women from these crimes. The machismo attitude held by many in society dictates that a woman deserves to be punished if she does not look after her spouse, does not ask for permission to go out, or spends too much time outside the home. This attitude may also influence police, prosecutors and judges. Hernandez noted that many complaints are not given the priority or urgency they deserve, many times judges do not issue restraining orders or confiscate weapons when needed, and in half of the cases, offenders are simply told to stop being violent. The Attorney General’s Office indicated that 18 percent of the women killed in Peru had asked the courts for protection measures.
 
In many of the murder cases, aggressors seek the benefit of a sincere confession, or defend the act as a result of violent emotion.  Doing so is known to reduce the murder sentence to less than 15 years in prison. This culture of impunity worsens the situation for women in Peru.
 
Compiled from: Martinez, Monica, “Peru – Women are victims of male machismo at home & in court,” Latin America Herald Tribune, published by Women’s UN Report Network, 21 May 2010.