Ayacucho assault case adds to demands on women's rights

23 July 2016

On 16 July the stark naked man filmed dragging a woman, Cindy Arlette Contreras, by the hair in a hotel in Ayacucho was freed with a suspended sentence of one year. The judges ruled that there was no proof that there had been either rape or the risk of death, and that the attack that took year a year previously on 13 July had involved only minor injuries. The victim has declared she fears for her life, not least since her attacker, Adriano Pozo Arias, is back on the streets.

Reactions to this verdict have been unprecedented, largely because the images of the woman being dragged by the hair by a naked man were so offensive. A Facebook group was created on 18 July to organise a march, with the slogan #niunamenos, on 13 August in defence of women’s rights. The group quickly reached the more than 44,000 members allowed, while there has been an outpouring of emotion from many women who have been sharing their own stories of abuse on Facebook.

The level of child abuse, rape and violence against women has taken many (mainly men) by surprise and the case appears to have provoked a real sea change in attitudes towards women’s rights in Peru.

The media has taken up the cause, with newspapers covering the planning of the march and news columns being dedicated to the issue. This has led to widespread discussion of the changes needed to protect women and girls. A petition has been set up on change.org asking for justice to be served https://www.change.org/p/niunamenos-niunamenosperú-justicia-para-arlette-contreras?recruiter=134761570&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=des-lg-share_petition-no_msg&fb_ref=Default

As Jelke Boesten has argued (http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137383440) , the issue of violence against women in Peru is a recurrent one and runs deep. Connections are being made between the sort of violence that women experience in Peru today and the abuses perpetrated against women in places like Ayacucho during the years of internal conflict, when women were routinely raped and the forced sterilisation programme was introduced by the Fujimori regime.

A judicial response on the issue of the forced sterilisation is still awaited.

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