By: Ruth Hermitaño Salvador, Alejandra Mestas Ampuero y Josué Carnero Huamán
The normalization of abuse and harassment of women is a very serious problem today and has been for many centuries. As Cesar Gonzales mentions in an article from the University of the Basque Country, many authors in different works justified in some way violence against women, making them look inferior, imperfect and subject to the will of men. Not only that, but at other levels and within the idiosyncrasy of societies, many macho behaviors were mixed, which somehow triggered some kind of violence (Gonzales, 2008).
The Government, being the main responsible for watching over our common good, is the first actor in this type of situations. In fact, as a result of the awareness of sexist acts worldwide, in 1996 the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Human Development was created in Peru, which later became what is now known as the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP), and with it began a long struggle against gender inequality.
Gender violence in Peru
To better understand what we are trying to express when talking about gender-based violence, we can consult the definition of the MIMP, which citing the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, mentions that gender-based violence can be recognized as a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women, and is defined as "any act or conduct based on gender that causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering, whether in the public or private sphere" (Convention of Belem do Para). (Convention of Belem do Para, 1994, as cited in MIMP, 2016).
What is particular about this definition is that they mention the word gender to refer to violence against women, but, in reality, this terminology is used to emphasize the fact that much of the violence against women is originated in the social order, which discriminates against women simply because they are women, devalues them and generates gender inequalities (MIMP. 2016).
Our country is not unrelated to this type of violence. On the contrary, it is one of the territories where the highest rate of inequality is observed, ranking 79th according to the latest human development report (UNDP, 2020), Additionally, 31.2% of Peruvian women have stated that they suffer violence at the hands of their partners. (Bott et al., 2021).
The pandemic and its effects on violence against women
According to UN data (2021), before the COVID -19 pandemic, one out of three women suffered physical or sexual violence. Isolation measures have led to an increase in abuses against girls and women who have been left with nowhere to turn. This fact has been confirmed by the Ombudsman's Office, which reveals that in the pandemic the level of violence against women and gender increased by more than 130%.
On the one hand, the measures taken to mitigate the effects of the health crisis encouraged the increase of gender violence, causing the increase of femicides, abuse and unwanted pregnancies, damaging the mental health of the family and causing the so-called normalization of these events.
That is why we are still in a chaotic situation. If we focus on the development of our government in this situation, we still "lack a gender approach", which hinders a correct model of prevention of gender violence. Peru is one of the countries that in the last two years dropped two places in the list of the best countries to live as a woman, placing us in 54th place (WEF, 2020). This is due to the fact that women do not have a place in decision making, have a lower rate of employability, less political participation and less participation in STEM programs.
As mentioned by the MIMP, "As face-to-face attention in the Women's Emergency Centers (CEM) is suspended at the national level, and despite the fact that the Itinerant Emergency Teams (EIU) are active 24 hours a day due to the mandatory social isolation, we still need help from the entire government in decentralized areas in order to foster a new culture of prevention for rapid attention to these acts of violence" (MIMP, 2020).
The spectacular nature of the news: The sensationalism of the media on gender violence.
The way in which the media reports on gender violence is a problem of culture and, above all, of stereotypes that contribute to the propagation of violence against women.
Based on the various studies that have been carried out on the media, it would be impossible to deny the fundamental role they currently play.
It is worrying that sensationalism is a relevant factor in communicating gender violence. What matters the most is the media's scope of dissemination or knowing how to inform and be a key part of building a culture of rejection of gender violence?
We often see that the way in which a news story is written alleges the act of the aggressor. It can be said that gender violence has been seen as sensationalist police narratives whose purpose has been, unfortunately, to entertain, but not to educate. And above all, it creates a culture of misconceptions about gender violence.
Likewise, we can say that men and women are presented in an unequal manner. On the one hand, the woman is presented as an object of aggression and, on the other hand, the man with "normal" behaviors, which would be out of reality, justice and equality.
The construction of a culture that rejects gender violence is in the hands of the media since they have an important role in society. Their purpose should produce the opposite effect to the one they are currently trying to achieve. However, there is still time to gradually change the way in which gender violence is seen.
What actions is the State taking?
The Peruvian government announced in its National Plan (2018 - 2021) a series of measures to eradicate gender-based violence. Among them, the Rural Strategy against violence would be fully implemented this year. In addition, the Police Squadron for the prevention against family violence would be doubled and the creation of a Stimulus Fund for regional and local governments with lower incidence of gender violence (MIMP,2018). While it is true that these plans were created to reduce the alarming figures of violence against women, these have not yet been able to materialize. A clear example of the inefficiency in the execution of the action plans is the increase of more than 47% of formal complaints of violence against women, and this without counting the rest of those that still, sadly, remain silent. (Ombudsman's Office, 2021).
Likewise, the Government allocated a budget of more than s/690 million soles for the Prevention of Gender Violence. In addition, it proposed the creation of the AURORA Plan for its execution during the years 202o and 2021, in response to the effects of the pandemic. The implementation of these plans has not yet shown a decrease in the statistics of aggressions and violence in general against women.
Finally, we can conclude that the national programs that seek to find a solution to the problem in question have not yet been developed sufficiently to help prevent them. It is necessary to have accurate diagnoses, accessible information at all levels (urban-rural) and to get regional governments to work in favor of the prevention of gender violence. The Peruvian State should abide by the recommendations of international organizations and experts in the prevention of abuse and violence, as this would provide a more solid basis on which to act.
Bott S, Guedes A, Ruiz-Celis AP, Adams JM. La violencia por parte de la pareja íntima en las Américas: una revisión sistemática y reanálisis de las estimaciones nacionales de prevalencia. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2021;45:e34. https://doi.org/10.26633/RPSP.2021.34
GONZÁLEZ MÍNGUEZ, C. (2008, 5 marzo). Sobre historia de las mujeres y violencia de género. Universidad del País Vasco, 5(2008). http://www.durangoeraikitzen.eus/portalDurango/RecursosWeb/DOCUMENTOS/1/1_514_1.pdf
Ministerio de la mujer y poblaciones vulnerables. (2016, julio). VIOLENCIA BASADA EN GÉNERO - MARCO CONCEPTUAL PARA LAS POLÍTICAS PÚBLICAS y LA ACCIÓN DEL ESTADO. Recuperado 24 de octubre de 2021, dehttps://www.mimp.gob.pe/files/direcciones/dgcvg/mimp-marco-conceptual-violencia-basada-en-genero.pdf
Observatorio Nacional de la Violencia a las Mujeres y los Integrantes del grupo Familiar.
Organización de las Naciones Unidas (2021). Mujeres Empoderadas. Hechos y Cifras: Empoderamiento Económico . https://www.unwomen.org/es/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and-figures
Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo. (2021). Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano 2020. United Nations Development Programme. http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2020_es.pdf
Rosario Sasieta M.(2021) Ministerio de la mujer y poblaciones vulnerables. Proyecto de Presupuesto 2021. https://www.congreso.gob.pe/Docs/comisiones2020/Presupuesto/files/sectores/mujeer_y_poblaciones/presentaci%C3%B3n_%C3%BAltimo_mujer.pdf
United Nations Development Programme (2021). Human Development Report. Violence Against Women in COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.undp.org/press-releases/car-violence-against-women-surging-amid-covid-19-pandemic-study-finds
World Economic Forum(2020). Global Gender GAP Report 2020 . https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf