In Peru, between 2019 and part of 2020, there were 754 cases of sexual violence against girls between the ages of 10 and 14, as revealed by a recent report on forced child pregnancy published by CHIRAPAQ Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru.
Through the review of statistical data and interviews to indigenous women and girls, CHIRAPAQ estimated that in 2020 about 30 indigenous girls were victims of rape, harassment or sexual exploitation per month. Likewise, the report indicates that every day one indigenous girl between the ages of 10 and 14, in a rural area, is forced to become a mother.
Reporting these cases is almost impossible due to the geographic remoteness of specialized public services, the expenses that families must undertake in search of justice, and the perception that State agents hold a discourteous and questioning attitude toward the victims. This was stated by the indigenous activist Tarcila Rivera Zea, president of CHIRAPAQ.
“The fact that the aggressor is usually a family member, a teacher or a person close to the victim or the community makes it even more difficult to be encouraged to file a report,” explains Rivera Zea. “Additionally, indigenous girls are seen as sexual objects destined to serve the man and the home in places where early motherhood is seen as normal, a situation that must change,” she explained.
The coronavirus pandemic leads to the confinement of many indigenous girls with their aggressors. The Ombudsman’s Office and other agencies denounced the increase in cases of violence during confinement. “The Women’s Emergency Centers and schools are the first stage where sexual violence against indigenous girls is detected, and their closure due to a new forced immobilization would mean that most of these cases will not be reported,” she said.
The report recommends the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations that violence prevention and care for victims should consider indigenous girls of 10 years old onwards. In addition, the report advises the Ministry of Education to immediately oust denounced teachers and provide financial resources to the Local Educational Offices to proceed with the inquiry and report to the Public Prosecutor. Furthermore, the report recommends the central government to create a single database that includes the ethnic identification, gender, age and place of residence of the victims, in order to guide more effective protection actions, especially for children.
CHIRAPAQ also emphasized the need for regional governments to incorporate the problem of child pregnancy as an agenda item, increasing the budget allocation for prevention services, health care and reporting of sexual violence aimed at the indigenous population and, in particular, Andean and Amazonian girls.
The report, which covered the regions of Ayacucho, Junín, Pasco, Puno and Ucayali, aims to contribute to making sexual violence and forced pregnancy visible among indigenous children and youth. Likewise, it seeks to provide tools and guidelines to prevent, reduce and attend to these cases with respect for indigenous cultures and consideration for the particular life circumstances of their peoples.
For three years, CHIRAPAQ, in alliance with the Federation of Yanesha Native Communities (FECONAYA), the Ñuqanchik Maronijei Network Noshaninka, the Wayna Wila Organization Union of Aymara Indigenous Youth (UJIA), and other indigenous communities have worked together so that their young members can raise their voices against sexual violence and early motherhood among indigenous children and youth.
CHIRAPAQ, Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru, is an indigenous association with consultative status at the UN that, for the past 35 years, has worked for the affirmation of cultural identity and the recognition of the rights of these peoples and cultures, with a special commitment to indigenous children, youth and women.