For girls, the biggest danger of sexual violence lies at home – a global problem

Maya Calderon, a sexual and reproductive rights activist, stands on San Martin Avenue in San Juan de Lurigancho, Peru’s most populous municipality. He complained that the epidemic once again highlighted the fact that sexual violence against girls comes primarily from someone close to home and that girls are often not trusted. Credit: Marila Zara / IPS
  • By Mariela Jara (Lima)
  • Inter Press Service

The 19-year-old university student, whose study of audiovisual communication has been hampered by restrictions imposed to prevent the Covid-19 epidemic, is a worker who belongs to the youth collective ViaMos of San Juan de Lurigancho district. Where Lima is.

Located northeast of the capital, it is a district of valleys and highlands at an altitude of 2200 m above sea level, where water is supplied by a rare commodity and tanker trucks. San Juan de Lurigancho was created 54 years ago and has a population of 1,117,629 inhabitants, according to official figures, mostly consisting of families who came to the capital from the western part of the country.

A total of 9.7 million people live in Lima’s 43 districts, and San Juan de Lurigancho has the largest population ever.

In an interview with the IPS while walking on the streets of his district, Calderon said he helped one of his friends during the Order of Mandatory Social Separation in this Andean nation between March and July 2020, which was sometimes followed by further restrictions on movement. Outbreak of new Covid-19.

Since then, classrooms have been closed and education has virtually continued from home, where the girls spend most of their time.

“She was in lockdown with her two sisters, her mother and stepfather. But she left before her stepfather could rape her; the harassment became unbearable. Now she is terrified of what could happen to her younger sisters because she is still at home There is, “he said.

But there is no support network for all girls and adolescents at risk of sexual abuse.

Information that reveals violencee

Official figures reveal a grim reality: According to the Ministry of Health’s Birth Registration System (CNV), 1,763 girls under the age of 14 were born between early 2020 and August this year.

All of these pregnancies and births are considered the result of rape, because the concept of sexual consent does not apply to girls under the age of 14 who are protected by Peruvian law.

Looking at CNV statistics from 2018 to August 2021, the total number rose to 4483, which means that an average of five girls under the age of 14 give birth in Peru every day.

It was also concluded by the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM), which conducted a nationwide study on forced abortion in Peru in September, published on Tuesday, October 19th.

For Claude, forced child pregnancy is the pregnancy of a minor under the age of 14 who has been raped and whose access to therapeutic abortion has not been guaranteed, which is the only form of legal termination of pregnancy in Peru.

“These figures are unacceptable, but we know that under-reporting could make them worse,” Lisbeth Guilen, the Peruvian coordinator of the Latin American network whose regional headquarters is in Lima until August, told IPS by telephone.

The activist led the “Monitoring and Advocacy for the Prevention, Care and Punishment of Violent Child Pregnancy” project, which was funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women between 2018 and August 2021.

A provocative reason for at-risk girls and adolescents was that during the months of lockdown, public services were suspended to deal with violence against women and the only thing available was a toll-free telephone number, which made it more difficult for victims to file complaints.

“What we’ve experienced shows us again that homes are the most risky places for girls,” Guillen said.

The Cladem study further reveals that the number of births of girls under the age of 10 has virtually tripled, from nine cases in 2019 to 24 in 2020. And the situation is worrisome, as seven cases have already been registered as of August this year.

One district experience

Julia Vargas, a local resident of Villa El Salvador, said: “Sexual violence against girls during this period is indescribable, worse than Covid-19. Men are taking advantage of their daughters, they think they have control over them.”

Emerging as a self-managed experience south of the capital five decades ago, the municipality offers health promotion as part of its public service.

Vargas, a 61-year-old mother of four adult children, is proud to be a health promoter, for which she has received training from the Ministry of Health and private organizations such as the Flora Tristan Peruvian Women’s Center.

“It’s hard to imagine so much violence against girls,” she told the IPS angrily at a meeting in her district, “and the worst thing is that mothers often close their eyes; they say if she (their partner) leaves, who will support me.” “

Studies indicate that women’s economic dependence is a factor that prevents them from exercising autonomy and strengthening unequal power relationships that perpetuate gender-based violence.

Vargas continues: “There was a case of a father who got his three daughters pregnant and had their secret abortions, and do you think the judiciary did nothing? Nothing! It said there was consent, how can a young girl give consent ?!”

“Girls can’t be treated so badly, they have rights,” she said.

Criminal nearby

Calderon is also familiar with this situation. “The epidemic highlights the fact that sexual violence comes primarily from someone close to home and is often not believed by girls: ‘You provoked your uncle, your honest father’, their families say, instead of focusing on the abuser.” He said.

Her collective Vyamos works to help girls get the right to enjoy every stage of life. Due to the epidemic, the group had to limit its face-to-face activities, but as an imbalance, it increased the publication of content on social networks.

“No girl or adolescent should live in fear of sexual violence or face such risks,” he said.

However, Cladem’s research indicates that between 2018 and 2020, there were 12,677 allegations of sexual violence against girls under the age of 14 in the country, leading to many forced pregnancies.

But official statistics do not differentiate between child and adolescent pregnancies.

The 2019 National Health Survey reported that 12.6 percent of the 15- to 19-year-old female population became pregnant or already a mother. The percentage in rural areas was higher than the national rate: 22.7 percent.

Young activist Mia Calderon, health promoter Julia Vargas and Claude member Lisbeth Guillain all agree on the need to make abortion a crime in rape cases and the need for timely delivery of emergency kits by public health services to prevent forced pregnancy and maternity.

These kits contain emergency contraceptive pills, HIV and hepatitis tests, and other ingredients for comprehensive health protection for infected people.

“There are regulatory advances such as this joint action protocol between the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Health to allow emergency victims to access emergency kits for any girl victim of violence, but in reality it is not complied with by some operators due to personal perceptions and deprivation of this right.”

He stressed that in order to overcome the weak response of the state to such a serious problem, adequate enforcement of existing regulations, guarantee of access to therapeutic abortion for girls and prevention strategies also need to be adopted, as the danger often lies directly at home. .

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All Rights ReservedSource: Inter Press Service

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