Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, with penalties of six to eight years in prison. Femicide is a crime and carries a minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment for those convicted of killing a woman if she is an immediate relative, spouse, or partner. The law establishes sentences of up to life in prison when the victim is a minor, pregnant, or has a disability. Enforcement of these laws, however, was often ineffective.
The law prohibits domestic violence, and penalties range from one month to six years in prison. The law also authorizes judges and prosecutors to prevent the convicted spouse or parent from returning to the family home and authorizes the victim’s relatives and unrelated persons living in the home to file complaints of domestic violence. It also allows health professionals to document injuries. The law requires a police investigation of domestic violence to take place within five days of a complaint and obliges authorities to extend protection to female victims of domestic violence. Enforcement of these laws, however, was lax.
Civil society experts claimed that persons significantly underreported rape and domestic violence complaints, due to stigma, mistreatment, weak confidence in the authorities, and a fear of retribution, including further violence. Studies showed that only 27 percent of women age 18 or more who suffered an attack reported it, and most reports did not result in proper sanctions.
Violence against women and girls–including rape, spousal abuse, and sexual, physical, and psychological abuse–remained serious national problems. As of September the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations documented 38,567 cases of violence against women, an 18 percent increase from 2015. Through September the Ministry of Women also reported 85 femicides, compared with 64 in 2015 (a 33 percent increase), and 171 femicide attempts, compared with 124 in 2015 (a 38 percent increase). The Women’s Ministry also reported that 70 percent of women had suffered at least one incident of serious physical or psychological abuse. Additionally, the ombudsman found that 40 percent of police stations did not have adequate facilities to interview victims and the majority of police officers and prosecution office personnel did not have specialized training in the treatment of abused women. In one particularly emblematic case, in September a 15-year-old girl in the city of Ayacucho died two days after four assailants, two of whom were minors, raped her. The police captured all four assailants who were in detention awaiting trial.
The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations operated the Women’s Emergency Program. The program consisted of 238 service centers with police, prosecutors, counselors, and public welfare agents to help victims of domestic abuse. The program also addressed the legal, psychological, social, and medical problems of victims. NGOs expressed concerns about the program’s quality and quantity, particularly in rural areas. In addition, the ministry operated a toll-free hotline and implemented projects to sensitize government employees and the citizenry to domestic violence.
The government continued through its national program against family and sexual violence to provide technical assistance to regional governments to support temporary shelters in nine of 25 regions. NGOs and members of Congress stated there were not enough shelters for victims of domestic violence and trafficking in persons.
On August 13, thousands of persons, representing a broad cross section of the population, joined the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One Woman Less) peaceful, nation-wide march to protest violence against women. Between 50,000 and 200,000 persons marched in Lima, including domestic violence survivors, civil society organizations, celebrities, President Kuczynski, ministers, and members of Congress.
On August 9, the judiciary created a Gender Justice Commission composed of women judges responsible for promoting a gender justice perspective within the judiciary. The judiciary also created 24 jurisdictional bodies to address exclusively domestic violence cases.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment was a serious problem. In 2015 Congress approved a law that criminalizes sexual harassment in public spaces. Under this law sexual harassment is defined as unsolicited comments, actions, and touching of a sexual nature that is unwanted by the female or male victim. Sexual harassment in the workplace, however, is not a criminal offense. Instead, workplace harassment is a labor rights violation subject to administrative punishment. The law defines sexual harassment poorly, according to NGOs, and government enforcement was minimally effective. There were no available statistics on sexual harassers prosecuted, convicted, or punished.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
In August the Constitutional Court reversed the 2009 ban on emergency oral contraception in public-health policies, ordering the Ministry of Health to include the “morning after pill” in its reproductive health and family planning policies. The government accepted the decision and restarted the distribution of the pills in its health-care system in September.
In July the government issued a ruling that cleared jailed former president Alberto Fujimori and his health ministers of criminal responsibility for forced sterilizations in the late 1990s as part of a nationwide family planning program. The public prosecutor ruled that individual medical personnel were responsible for the isolated cases where women were sterilized without consent and recommended that five doctors be charged. Women’s rights activists protested against the ruling, which stated that the reproductive health and family planning program had not violated human rights as part of a state policy.
Discrimination: The law provides for equality between men and women and prohibits discrimination against women with regard to marriage, divorce, and property rights. While the law prohibits discrimination in employment and educational opportunities based on gender, there was a persistent underrepresentation of women in high-ranking positions, and the arbitrary dismissal of pregnant women and workplace discrimination remained common. The law stipulates that women should receive equal pay for equal work, but women often were paid less than men. The National Statistics Bureau estimated that as of September, women received on average 81 percent the average income of men.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived either by birth within the country’s territory or from one’s parents. Problems with government registration of births continued, although the government made significant efforts and progress. After a child is born and registered, parents receive their child’s national identification card, which is periodically renewed.
Obtaining a national identity document requires a birth certificate, which was a problem in the most remote rural areas, where many births occurred at home and were not registered. As a result, poor indigenous women and children who inhabit these remote areas disproportionately lacked identity documents. Undocumented citizens faced social and political barriers to accessing government services, including running for public office or holding title to land. Government representatives and NGOs assessed that undocumented citizens were particularly vulnerable to labor exploitation, human trafficking, and crime. To address this problem, in 2015 the government launched the Itinerant Social Action Platforms, which continued to send navy boats to rivers in the Amazon Region to distribute basic health-care and registry services to remote indigenous communities.
Education: The constitution stipulates that primary and secondary education is compulsory, universal, and free through the secondary level. Nevertheless, citizens and NGOs continued to claim that education was not completely free, and fees for parental associations, administration, and educational materials greatly reduced access for lower-income families.
Child Abuse: Children continued to suffer from violence and sexual abuse, which remained serious problems. Many cases went unreported because societal norms regarded such abuse as a family problem to be resolved privately.
The government continued to support overnight shelters for abandoned or neglected children and child victims of violence, including child trafficking victims, in 14 of 25 regions. The Women’s Emergency Program received information through child rights and welfare protection offices and assisted child victims of violence. The Children’s Bureau coordinated government policies and programs for children and adolescents. At the grassroots level, child rights and welfare protection offices resolved complaints ranging from child physical and sexual abuse to abandonment and failure to pay child support. Provincial or district governments operated approximately half of these offices, while schools, churches, and NGOs ran the others. Law students staffed most of the units, particularly in rural districts. When these offices could not resolve disputes, officials usually referred cases to the Public Ministry’s local prosecutor offices, whose adjudications were legally binding and had the same force as court judgments.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18. The law allows minors older than 16 to marry with civil judge authorization.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits exploiting children in prostitution and penalizes perpetrators with five to 12 years in prison. During the year government officials, police, NGOs, civil society leaders, and journalists identified numerous cases of child prostitution. The country remained a destination for child sex tourism, with Lima, Cusco, Loreto, and Madre de Dios as the principal locations. Involvement in child sex tourism is punishable by four to 10 years in prison. The Foreign Trade and Tourism Ministry disseminated information about the problem in coordination with NGOs and local governments as part of a campaign to combat child exploitation.
The minimum age for consensual sex is 14. Statutory rape law stipulates different penalties for different rape offenses. A conviction of rape of a minor younger than age 14 would lead to penalties ranging from 25 years to life in prison. The law prohibits child pornography, and the penalty for conviction of involvement in child pornography is four to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The law also prohibits adults from using deceit, abuse of power, or the vulnerability of a teenager to have sex with a minor under age 18.
In September 2016 the Permanent Chamber of the Supreme Court absolved a bar owner who had employed a 14-year-old girl found engaged in commercial sexual exploitation. The Supreme Court’s decision, accepting the owner’s argument that the girl’s job was only to encourage men to drink and that the owner was unaware she was having sex with patrons, was heavily criticized. Following widespread condemnation, the National Judiciary Council launched an investigation into the decision and the Permanent Chamber’s five-judge panel.
Child Soldiers: The government, NGOs, and journalists reported the Shining Path used child soldiers (see section 1.g.). The Ombudsman’s Office reported the army had no cases of enlisting underage soldiers during the year.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
Estimates of the Jewish population ranged from 3,000-4,000 persons. There were no reports of violent incidents or cases of harassment against the Jewish population.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transport, access to health care, and provisions of state services, and it establishes infractions and sanctions for noncompliance with specified norms. The law provides for the protection, care, rehabilitation, security, and social inclusion of persons with disabilities; mandates that public spaces be free of barriers and accessible to persons with disabilities; and provides for the appointment of a disability rights specialist in the Ombudsman’s Office.
The law mandates that the government make its internet sites accessible for persons with disabilities and requires the inclusion of sign language or subtitles in all educational and cultural programs on public television and in media available in all public libraries.
The government devoted limited resources to law enforcement and training on disability issues, and many persons with disabilities remained economically and socially marginalized. Governments at the national, regional, and local levels made little effort to provide persons with disabilities with access to public buildings. There were few interpreters for deaf persons in government offices and no access to recordings or braille for blind persons. The majority of government websites remained inaccessible to persons with disabilities, and only the congressional television channel offered sign language interpretation. The National Statistics and Information Institute (INEI) reported there were 18 registered sign language interpreters for more than 500,000 deaf persons. On September 27, political parties represented in the 2016-2021 Congress created a special caucus to work for the rights of persons with disabilities.
The government failed to enforce effectively laws protecting the rights of persons with mental disabilities. NGOs reported the number of medical personnel providing services in psychiatric institutions was insufficient to care for all patients. The ombudsman and NGOs reported many children with disabilities were unable to attend public schools due to lack of physical access.
While officials made advancements on the enforcement of the rights of persons with disabilities during the year, the country’s disability community still faced immense challenges due to inaccessible infrastructure, minimal access to education, insufficient employment opportunities, and discrimination, according to a cross section of government and civil society leaders. During the year the Ombudsman’s Office reported that approximately 87 percent of children with disabilities did not attend school and 76 percent of persons with disabilities did not work. One government survey reported that 70 percent of employers stated they would not hire a person with a disability.
The law requires the government to treat all citizens equally and forbids discrimination based on race, national origin, or language. Nevertheless, persons of indigenous and African descent (Afro-Peruvian) in particular faced societal discrimination and prejudice. Indigenous people and Afro-Peruvians remained underrepresented in leadership positions in government, business, and the military. Although the law prohibits mentioning race in job advertisements, employers often required applicants to submit photographs with their employment applications.
Racial discrimination, a small population size, lack of political representation, and a dispersed geographic location along the coast all contributed to the Afro-Peruvian community’s political and economic underdevelopment. The Ministry of Culture reported in July that Afro-Peruvians had particular difficulties accessing health and education services. While the percentage of Afro-Peruvians ages 18 to 26 with access to higher education increased from 26 percent to 35 percent from 2004 to 2015, it remained below the national average of 43 percent. As of October, the 130-member Congress included two self-identified Afro-Peruvian representatives.
On July 15, the government adopted the National Plan for the Development of the Afro-Peruvian Population. The plan recognizes the rights of Afro-Peruvians and adopts principles and goals for improving the political, economic, and social development of the Afro-Peruvian community. Under the minister of culture’s lead, a broad array of government ministries must adopt measures to gradually implement the National Plan and monitor its fulfillment.
Indigenous communities remained politically, economically, and socially marginalized. The constitution and laws stipulate that all citizens have the right to use their own language before any authority through an interpreter. Quechua, Aymara, and other indigenous languages share official status with Spanish in regions where citizens primarily speak these languages. Nevertheless, the government dedicated insufficient resources for interpretation services, impeding the full participation of indigenous persons in the political process.
Some indigenous persons living in remote areas lacked identity documents. In many cases the government did not have offices located in the areas where indigenous people lived. Additionally, NGOs and civil society leaders reported that some government officials allegedly sought bribes in exchange for documents, which indigenous persons were unable or unwilling to pay. Without identity cards, they were unable to exercise basic rights, such as voting and gaining access to health services and education.
While the constitution recognizes that indigenous persons have the right to own land communally, indigenous groups often lacked legal title to demarcate the boundaries of their lands, making it difficult to resist encroachment by outsiders. The granting of land titles remained slow. Amazonian indigenous people in particular accused the national government of delaying the final allocation of indigenous land titles. By law local communities retain the right of unassignability, which should prevent the reassignment of indigenous land titles to nonindigenous tenants. Some indigenous community members, however, sold land to outsiders without the majority consent of their community. The Ombudsman’s Office reported the government took steps to assure government funds and other resources were available to improve Amazonian land-title policies.
Much of the conflict involving indigenous people in the Amazon related to extractive industry projects. By law the government holds the subsurface mineral rights for land throughout the country, which frequently caused disputes between the local indigenous communities, national government, regional government, and the various extractive interests. The law also requires the government to establish a database of indigenous communities entitled to consultation and produce a detailed implementation guide to facilitate government and private-sector compliance. Several indigenous organizations and the Ombudsman’s Office expressed concern that indigenous communities did not have sufficient training to engage in consultations with the government and industry. As of January the government had concluded 18 agreements with indigenous communities and companies to undertake extractive projects.
Indigenous persons often faced threats from illegal miners and loggers who operated near or within their claimed land holdings. Indigenous leaders raised concerns that the government remained unable to protect indigenous communities from these threats, due in part to the relative isolation of indigenous communities within the Amazon provinces. As of December the 2014 killings of four Ashaninka indigenous leaders from the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community in the Amazon near the border with Brazil remained unsolved and under investigation.
Many indigenous persons and others with indigenous physical features faced societal discrimination and prejudice. They were often the victims of derogatory comments and illegal discrimination in public places, including theaters, restaurants, and clubs.
The Ministry of Culture created several tools to help protect the rights of indigenous people. These continued efforts included interpreter training, implementing guidelines for providing public services, and administrative processes for creating indigenous land reserves. The Ministry of Education operated bilingual schools in certain areas of the Amazon, maintaining special education programs in Spanish and the local indigenous language. As of October there were 30 institutes and nine universities offering training for teachers in bilingual education, with 1,790 teachers trained and 4,500 enrolled.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
LGBTI persons remained some of the most marginalized individuals in the country and frequently were targets of discrimination. The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and the government did not keep national-level statistics on such discrimination. The government does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions. The constitutional procedure code, however, recognizes the right of individuals to file legal claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Four of the regional governments (in Piura, La Libertad, Loreto, and San Martin) have regulations that prohibit discrimination against LGBTI individuals explicitly and provide for administrative relief but not criminal sanctions.
Government officials, NGOs, journalists, and civil society leaders reported official and societal discrimination against persons occurred based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, education, and health care. According to NGO and Ombudsman Office reports, government authorities, including the police, harassed and abused LGBTI persons, particularly transgender women. NGO studies revealed that law enforcement authorities repeatedly failed to protect, and on occasion violated, the rights of LGBTI citizens. Police violence and harassment particularly targeted transgender women, despite training.
The law does not provide transgender persons the right to identify with their gender or change their names on their national identity documents. The only path available to transgender people to change their names is through a long, unpredictable judicial process that frequently results in denial or at best enables them to adopt a “gender neutral” name. Transgender persons, therefore, often did not have national identification cards, which limited their access to government services.
Local NGOs reported that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was widespread, culturally sanctioned, and largely underreported due to fear of violence or additional discrimination. NGOs reported that LGBTI youth were frequently targets of severe bullying that contributed to higher rates of suicide than for non-LGBTI youth.
On August 31, the Ombudsman’s Office became the first public institution to issue a report dedicated to LGBTI human rights.
Studies conducted by local NGOs indicated 95 percent of LGBTI citizens had experienced some type of violence or discrimination directed at them because of their status as LGBTI persons. On May 3, a 14-year-old transgender girl was shot and killed at a party after having been harassed for being transgender. While the alleged culprit faced criminal prosecution for the killing, he did not face hate crime charges.
On February 13, a group of LGBTI activists gathered in Lima’s central square for an event called “Besos Contra Homofobia” (Kisses Against Homophobia). When the activists embraced and kissed, the police told them to leave the square. When the activists refused, police used a water cannon, shields, and clubs to push the activists out of the square. The government prohibits all protests in the central square, but since equally peaceful events have taken place there unbothered, LGBTI activists contended that PNP’s response singled out LGBTI citizens and discriminated against their use of a public space.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Persons with HIV/AIDS faced discrimination and harassment, including societal discrimination for employment, housing, and general social inclusion. The Ministry of Health implemented policies to combat discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status. HIV/AIDS affects transgender women disproportionately, and many of them could not obtain health care because they lacked national identification cards reflecting their gender and appearance.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The Ombudsman’s Office reported 154 active social conflict cases as of October. The report found that 71 percent of the social conflicts involved social-environmental issues, with mining-related incidents accounting for 63 percent of the cases. These conflicts disproportionately affected indigenous populations in the Andean and Amazon Regions. At times violence occurred during protests between the security forces and protesters.
Socio-environmental activist Maxima Acuna, who received the Goldman Environmental Prize in April, continued her long-running land dispute with a multinational mining corporation. Acuna and her family alleged the company had threatened and harassed them since 2011 in an effort to take their land. On September 18, Acuna and her husband clashed with the mining company’s security guards, which resulted in moderate injuries to her and minor injuries to her husband. Officials were investigating the confrontation and reviewing Acuna’s security. On September 28, a fact-finding report on the land dispute (financed by the company) faulted both parties for poor communication and the company for failing to assess the impact of its actions on Acuna. The report did not find conclusive evidence that the company committed human rights abuses.
The police shot and killed Quintino Cereceda during an October 14 protest against noise and pollution resulting from trucks transporting materials from the Las Bambas mine in a highland rural area of the Apurimac Region. Minister of Interior Carlos Basombrio declared the police operation was “unilateral and not consulted” with national authorities. Basombrio acknowledged the existence of problematic agreements between the mining company and local police that should be revised.