In the latest of a series of public demonstrations against gender-based violence in Latin America, some 50,000 women’s rights advocates took to the streets on Saturday in cities across Peru.
Peru’s newly inaugurated president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, marched with First Lady Nancy Lange as well as most of his cabinet in a gesture of support for women rarely seen in the country’s political history.
“What we do not want in Peru is violence against anyone, especially against women and children,” said Kuczynski, who urged Peruvians on Twitter to “reject all acts of inequality and masochistic violence.”
The protests, the largest of which took place in the capital city of Lima, followed similar protests in Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil over the past year. The international movement has gained traction under the slogan #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) which, according to the Guardian, paraphrases the words of murdered Mexican activist and poet Susana Chavez Castillo: “Ni una mujer menos, ni una muerte más” (Not one woman less, not one more death).
This weekend’s protesters demanded more action from judges and officials across the Andean nation, where there are almost daily reports of gender-based violence and abuse across socio-economic classes. One woman was recently disfigured after her husband hit her with a brick, according to the Associated Press, because he said the meal she had served had too much garlic. Others have been “savagely beaten by their partners,” with three women killed last week in Peru due to domestic violence.
This year’s reports of gender violence have been particularly high. Peru’s Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) has so far recorded more than 50 cases of women murdered by their partners or ex-partners, La Prensa reports, and more than 100 cases of attempted femicide.
The MIMP also has data to indicate that seven out of 10 Peruvian women have suffered physical or psychological abuse from their partners, and roughly a third of the victims had complained about their aggressors before the attacks.
The Minister of MIMP, Ana Maria Romero, called the march the beginning of the path toward curtailing violence against women.
“This march is an expression, a cry of society that says enough of violence, no to impunity,” Romero told El Peruano. “It is the beginning of an important road we must follow and continue with this [level of]commitment.”
Romero said the new administration under Kuczynski, who took office at the end of July, would better train police to respond to domestic and other acts of gender violence, ensure better provision of psychological support, open more women’s shelters and establish 245 emergency centers for women across the country.
“Our problem is not a lack of legislation, it is how we apply the law,” she added. “Those in charge of justice need more sensitivity and a better understanding of the rights of the women.”