The first such survey of human rights was carried out in 2013; here is the second. With fieldwork done in November 2019, the survey involved 3,312 respondents. Also published is a set of 25 articles on the survey results and the issues raised by academics working in the field. The mix is healthily multidisciplinary.
The survey shows:
- A lack of confidence in the state. 70% of respondents think that the state is the primary actor in guaranteeing rights but does little or nothing to guarantee access to justice or social security. Congress is criticised for failing to act in protecting rights. The ministry reflects that it needs to communicate better its own work.
- A large majority (72%) think that human rights are not, or very little, respected. 51% felt that rights are less respected today than five years ag, and 28% think that the situation will get worse in the coming five years.
- 30%-40% feel that the state is justified in not respecting the human rights of those committing acts of terrorism, delinquency or violations against minors. One in three thought that the rights of those involved in social conflict did not merit respect.
- Discrimination is seen as linked to racism, social status and culture.
- The media are seen as playing a negative role, promoting discrimination.
- A third claim they have suffered discrimination in the last 12 months for reasons associated with income, physical appearance and the colour of their skin.
- Of those who had suffered discrimination, only 12% had made some form of complaint. Of these 25% considered it a waste of time, 18% not important enough, 13% did not know how to report it, and 12% could not afford the cost.
- For 53% the main problem affecting respect for human rights is corruption, for 20% incompetent authorities, 9% the lack of education, and for 8% a lack of interest among the population.
A strength of the work is the breadth of the investigation into groups experiencing discrimination. The report covers prisoners, migrants, indigenous peoples, home workers, LGBT, those living with AIDS, women, children and adolescents.
While many of the 25 academic articles refer to the improvements that have been made legally and institutionally to strengthen the human rights framework (most notably the Human Rights National Plan), they underline the gap between what is written in law and society’s ingrained discriminatory views and practices.
The articles highlight the discrimination affecting what Maritza Paredes describes as “the new others” (p.36), referring to the LGBT community and those living with HIV. 45% of those interviewed believe that homosexuality is the result of a trauma, and 36% believe it is risky to leave a child with a gay person. Public spaces are deemed to be where LGBT communities are most vulnerable to discriminatory practices, including job centres, hospitals and local clinics.
On women, Norma Fuller (p. 50-52) expressed a modest optimism in that it appears that society now recognises that violence against women does not belong in the private sphere. The majority of respondents (53%) recognised that women are very discriminated against and nearly all (91%) were against the idea that women must stay with their spouses even if the latter are violent in order “not to ruin family unity”. Responses from rural areas were more conservative.
Marcela Huaita quotes INEI figures (p.54), showing that women’s participation in economic activities remains very low compared to men, although the figures differ from region to region. Views on whether it is acceptable for men to earn more than women decreases with the age of people interviewed; 19% of Peruvians older than 40 agree with the statement that “men have to be the breadwinners”, decreasing to 11% among 25–39 year olds and 8% amid the youngest group.
Summarising, Areli Valencia Vargas stresses three themes for further research:
- a structural analysis of inequalities and how they affect human rights;
- analysis of corruption and its impact; and
- analysis of interactions between the state and companies in the prevention and protection of rights.
Discrimination emerges as the key point in relation to the first of these. Policy must remedy structural causes (lack of adequate education and healthcare above all) but also attitudes. Legal provisions sanctioning discrimination are important, but so is the need to transform mindsets (p.81).
The focus on corruption is relatively new and very important, reflecting the impact of Odebrecht. There was concern among the responses about the way corruption diverts public funds from the projects needed to fight the structural causes of inequality.
With all this analytical effort, it is disappointing that no comparative work is done between the 2019 and 2013 results. The survey work was done before Covid-19 hit: the document stresses that the results would probably have been even more negative today.