Wednesday the 25th of November, several volunteers, the HOOP moms and I took to the streets of Arequipa to participate in the march encouraging the elimination of violence against women. With the sun shining bright, marching bands and banners, hundreds of women raised their voices about a cause so close to their hearts.
The date of the march was no coincidence, because the 25th of November is the International day of Elimination of Violence against Women, putting focus on the 1 in 3 women in the world who have been victims of violence1. It is defined by the UN as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women”2, and covers a number of different types of abuse towards women during their life-time3. The most common type of abuse is “domestic violence”, an act committed by a partner, husband or ex-husband4. However, this type of violence has traditionally been difficult to report because of the sensitivity and stigma around the topic. Yet, it is put increasingly more on the agenda, especially thanks to the activism of many women’s organisations, and the focus on the health effects it brings2. Because not only is violence against women is an important health issue, it is also a clear violation of human rights3.
Gender-based violence is a global issue, and the women demonstrating to eliminate it on Plaza de Armas in Arequipa on Wednesday is evidence of its presence in Peru. However, to understand the situation of gender inequality in Peru, it is important to understand the situation of Peru in a post-conflict peacetime5. In the years between 1980 and 2000, Peru was under an internal conflict, costing thousands of lives and with soldiers using sexual violence as a weapon of war. Sadly, little was done to address these crimes, and some suggest this is the reason for the high numbers of domestic abuse in Peru after the conflict 5,6. Laws and systems were put in place, but little justice was made for the victims of these violations, which is why so many women still choose not to report them 5, 6, 7. But that does not mean it does not exist. According to an INEI family health survey from 2012, 37% of Peruvian women between the age of 15 and 49 have been a victim of violence from a partner, in comparison to the 35% worldwide average8. In Lima and Cusco the situation for women is even worse, where 49% in Lima and 61% in Cusco have experienced domestic violence. In Cusco, sexual violence towards women from their partner is reportedly even more prevalent, with numbers in 2005 as high as 69%9.
However, the enthusiasm shown by the women of Arequipa as well as HOOP’s own moms shows how this topic is getting increasingly more coverage, which makes the job to tackle the issue just a little bit easier. The women of Flora Tristán are no exception to the statistics. They do however have access to our social work program and HOOPs own psychologist to assist them. This is HOOPs way to fight the statistics, just one step at a time.
Words by Julie Celine Bergaust
Photos by Elise Fjordbakk
1. UN Women (2015) Facts and figures: ending violence against women. Available from: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures (26.11.15)
2. WHO (2001) Putting women first: ethical and safety recommendations for Research on Domestic Violence against women. Available from: http://www.who.int/gender/violence/womenfirtseng.pdf
3. Krantz, G. and Garcia-Moreno, C. (2005) ‘Violence against women’ in Epidemiol Community Health. 59: 818-821
4. Heise L, Ellsberg M, Gottemoeller M. (2002) A global overview of gender-based violence. Int J Gynecol Obstet;78 (suppl 1): 5–14.
5. Escribens, P. (2012) Woman and human righst in Peru. Peru Support Group. No 151. Available from: http://www.perusupportgroup.org.uk/article-560.html
6. USIP (2012) ’Sexual Violence and Justice in Postconflict Peru’ in Special Report 310 Washington. Available from: http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/SR310.pdf (Viewed 25.11.15)
7. Svec, J. and Andic, T. (nd) Rethinking Empowerment and Gender: A case study of Domestic Violence in Peru. University of Minnesota. Available from: http://paa2014.princeton.edu/papers/141452 (Viewed 25.11.15)
8. Chase, R. (2013) Peru: 37% of women have been victims of domestic abuse.
Peruthisweek.com Available from: http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-peru-37-of-women-have-been-victims-of-domestic-violence-101547 (Viewed 24.11.15)
9. WHO (2005) WHO multi-country study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women. Available from: http://www.who.int/gender/violence/who_multicountry_study/fact_sheets/Peru2.pdf (Viewed: 26.11.15)