Peru is an extraordinary country. Its geography, its people, and its history reveal a lively, creative, and hardworking nation that has managed to rise from different major crises.
Nevertheless, terrible acts also occur against people and their communities. Poverty and extreme poverty are high, affecting millions of Peruvians. Peru is one has one of the highest rates of abuse against women and children in Latin America. Discrimination against race, gender, economic status, and even language create an everyday sorrowful reality. Sadly, human rights are no more than dead words for most citizens.
However, our country is changing. Citizens are now increasingly becoming aware of the issues around them and are willing to join efforts to end these social ills.
Children at Risk
We are worried about the high rates of sexual and physical violence, trafficking of minors, and disability discrimination affecting children and adolescents. Certain risk factors such as weak or unavailable public institutions and services in poor communities, the bad quality of those services, and cultural factors, justify the use of violence to discipline children.
One specifically tragic case was an 8 year old girl named Yuri, who was horribly abused and then killed in a small town in Huanuco in 2003. In the end, the crime went unpunished. This case shows that the judicial system in Peru does not meet the demand for justice of millions of people that live under the line of poverty.
Consequently, it is necessary to develop a critical attitude that questions gender violence and authoritative, sexist cultural practices
We see tendencies of change in both the Amazon communities and farming communities: the hoarding of land, the loss of communitarian identity, the rise of new demands among the indigenous communities, and the contamination of their territories.
The hoarding of land is a phenomenon that affects both the Amazon and farming communities of the Andes. The loss of common land directly affects migration, especially of youth towards the cities, and the practice of new activities. The commoners that stay inside the communities progressively become pawns. Both processes weaken traditions and common practices along with human rights.
Nevertheless, the rights of indigenous towns and the communal identity are important among the groups that fight for land (property rights), such as the Shawis and Kichwas. The fight for land protection develops a sense of belonging to the Shawi and Kichwa towns, as well as appreciation for their language and ancestral knowledge. The work hypothesis is: communal identity and culture redesign strengthen the defense of territory and vice versa.
Another aspect to consider is the presence of youth, especially women, in the defense of land and projects related to agriculture, tourism, and other activities. We allude to the young adults’ case of Quispillaccta (Ayacucho), who now have access to higher education. They promote the cultural identity linked to the management of water and the rescue of ancestral knowledge.
Children in Apurimac lack good education in their own language, Quechua, which affects their learning. With poor and limited knowledge, they will have less chances for personal development, falling into the circle of poverty.
Violence against Women and Children
After Bangladesh and Ethiopia, Peru takes the third place in high levels of sexual assaults in the world. The Social Tolerance Index in regards to family violence to women is very high, now reaching 54.8%. (Source: Ministerio de la Mujer del Peru)
In regards to violence in the household, statistics show that 40% of women have been abused by their partner (INEI). The same happens for children who are abused mostly by the people closest to them. Abuse has an intense effect on people and can replicate from victims to then becoming abusers themselves.
It is important to consider that more women are participating economically in the household. These are the transformed entrepreneurial women that fight for a better quality of life for their children. For these women, the tolerance for abuse from the male side of a family has decreased. When they reject the abuse of masculinity, some women imitate the aggressive behavior of the male. This is an important social change in marital relationships.
Climate change is a global process of transformation that impacts every part of life for every town. Scientists say that two ways to face it exist: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation happens through the improvement of the Management of Disaster Risks, which is based on the use of modern technology and ancestral knowledge that develop communities. From a mitigation perspective, areas that must be promoted are changes in social group attitudes towards the environment and the strengthening of their impact in the industrial areas.
The culture is weak in the prevention of disaster risks from the subnational governments. No investment in storm drains exists or any territory arrangements for earthquakes and river overflowing ever happens.