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Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons


Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, with penalties of six to eight years in prison. Femicide is a crime and carries a minimum sentence of 15 years. Enforcement of these laws, however, was often ineffective.

The law prohibits domestic violence; penalties range from one month to six years in prison. The law also authorizes judges and prosecutors to prevent a 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. 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.

Violence against women and girls–including rape, spousal abuse, and sexual, physical, and psychological abuse–were serious national problems. The government reported that 68 percent of women had suffered at least one incident of serious physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Additionally, the Ombudsman’s Office found that 40 percent of police stations did not have adequate facilities or specialized training.

The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations continued to operate service centers with police, prosecutors, counselors, and public welfare agents to help victims. NGOs expressed concerns about the program’s quality and quantity, particularly in rural areas. The ministry operated a toll-free hotline and implemented projects to sensitize government employees and the citizenry to domestic violence.

The government continued to support temporary shelters, but NGOs and members of congress stated there were not enough shelters.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment remained a serious problem. 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 but rather a labor rights violation subject to administrative punishment. Government enforcement was minimally effective.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: .

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 was 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 71 percent of 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 in remote areas of the country, although the government made significant progress in promoting registration.

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 in these 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.

Education: The constitution stipulates that primary and secondary education is compulsory, universal, and free through the secondary level. 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 were serious nationwide problems.

The government supported overnight shelters. Provincial or district governments operated approximately one-half of the offices to assist victims, 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 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 promoters with a minimum of 15 years in prison. Government officials, police, NGOs, civil society leaders, and journalists identified numerous cases of child prostitution during the year. The country remained a destination for child sex tourism.

The minimum age for consensual sex is 14. A conviction of rape of a minor younger than 14 carries 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 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. Following widespread condemnation of the court ruling, the National Judiciary Council launched an investigation into the decision and the Permanent Chamber’s five-judge panel. The judge who chaired the panel and issued the decision resigned in March.

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


Estimates of the Jewish population ranged from 3,000 to 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

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The law establishes infractions and sanctions for noncompliance. The law also 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.

The government failed to enforce laws protecting the rights of persons with mental disabilities. NGOs and government officials reported the number of medical personnel providing services in psychiatric institutions was insufficient.

While government officials improved 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 government and civil society leaders. In 2016 the Ombudsman’s Office reported 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.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The law requires the government to treat all citizens equally and prohibits 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 peoples and Afro-Peruvians remained underrepresented in leadership positions in government, business, and the military.

Indigenous People

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.

Of the approximately 200,000 persons (less than 1 percent of the population) without national identity documents, the government reported the majority were indigenous persons living in remote areas. NGOs and civil society leaders continued to report that some government officials allegedly sought bribes in exchange for documents, which indigenous persons were unable or unwilling to pay. Without national identity cards, they were unable to exercise basic rights.

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. Amazonian indigenous peoples in particular continued to accuse the national government of delaying the final allocation of their land titles. By law local communities retain the right of unassignability. Some indigenous community members, however, sold land to outsiders without the majority consent of their community.

By law the national government retains the subsurface mineral rights for land nationwide, which frequently caused disputes between the local indigenous communities, national government, regional governments, 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. Indigenous NGOs, legal experts, and the Ombudsman’s Office continued to express concerns that indigenous communities did not have sufficient training to engage in consultations with the government and extractive industry. As of November the government had concluded 18 agreements with indigenous communities and companies to undertake extractive projects.

Indigenous persons continued to face threats from narcotics traffickers and illegal miners and loggers who operated near or within their claimed land holdings.

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.

The Ministry of Culture continued to promote interpreter training, implementing guidelines for providing public services, and administrative processes for creating indigenous land reserves. The Ministry of Education operated bilingual schools in the Amazon. The public television channel launched two daily news programs in the Quechua and Aymara indigenous languages during the year.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The constitutional procedure code recognizes the right of individuals to file legal claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Four of the regional governments (Piura, La Libertad, Loreto, and San Martin) have regulations that prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals explicitly and provide for administrative relief but not criminal sanctions.

Government officials, NGOs, journalists, and civil society leaders reported that widespread official and societal discrimination against persons occurred based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, education, and health care. Police, harassed and abused transgender women. NGO studies revealed that law enforcement authorities repeatedly failed to protect, and on occasion violated, the rights of LGBTI citizens.

The law does not provide transgender persons the right to national identify documents that reflect their gender identity. Transgender persons, therefore, often did not have national identification cards, which consequently limited their access to government services.

In 2016 the Ombudsman’s Office became the first public institution to issue a report dedicated to LGBTI human rights. Studies conducted by local NGOs amplified the ombudsman’s report, finding that 95 percent of LGBTI citizens had experienced some type of violence or discrimination because of their status as LGBTI persons.

In February police blocked LGBTI activists from accessing Lima’s central square for an annual demonstration called “Besos Contra Homofobia” (Kisses Against Homophobia). The government prohibits all protests in the central square. Nevertheless, peaceful events previously had taken place in the square without incident, and LGBTI activists argued that police actions 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 affected 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 109 active social-conflict cases as of August, compared with 154 in 2016. The report found that most conflicts involved socioenvironmental issues, with mining-related incidents accounting for 64 percent of the cases. An August land dispute in Cuna Mori, Piura Region, left one protester dead and 10 injured.

Indigenous leaders and environmental activists working on socioenvironmental disputes were harassed and killed. Madre de Dios-based environmentalist Freddy Vracko reported receiving death threats in April for his environmental preservation efforts against illegal miners and pursuit of justice for the killing of his conservationist father in 2015.

In May the Supreme Court ruled socioenvironmental activist Maxima Acuna did not misappropriate land involved in her family’s dispute with a multinational mining corporation. Acuna, who received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016, and her family alleged the company had threatened and harassed them since 2011 in an effort to take their land.

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