Peru: Availability of shelters and support groups for battered women, police response to complaints of domestic abuse, and new legal measures to prevent and punish domestic violence (1995-June 1998)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 July 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||PER29752.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Peru: Availability of shelters and support groups for battered women, police response to complaints of domestic abuse, and new legal measures to prevent and punish domestic violence (1995-June 1998), 1 July 1998, PER29752.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad9120.html [accessed 30 August 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The information contained in this Response was obtained from reports published in Spanish by women's organizations based in Peru and Chile. Additional information on the sitatuion of women and legislation related to domestic violence can be found in Country Reports 1997, available through the Internet and at your Regional Documentation Centre.
By January 1998 there were seven shelters for abused women in Lima and two outside the city, whereas earlier there had been only one, in the "popular neighbourhood" of El Planeta, in Lima (Fempress Jan. 1998). In November 1997, representatives from all shelters gathered to start a coordinating network referred to as the Red Nacional Casas-Refugios del Perú (ibid.).
One report states that although the number of state and citizens' institutions dedicated to the problem of violence against women continues to grow, the state lacks a policy regarding shelters; the few in operation owe their existence to highly committed women's groups (ibid. Jan. 1997).
The information that follows is provided in a 1998 report published by the Flora Tristan Centre of Peruvian Women (Loli 1997).
New legislation came into effect after being published in the official gazette El Peruano on 25 March 1997. Law 26763 on sexual and family violence, commonly known as the Law on Family Violence (Ley de Violencia Familiar), modified the earlier Law 26260, establishing norms that, according to a women's group report, in some ways worsened and in others improved the situation of women in relation to family violence.
One criticism of the new law is that it does not include specific provisions regarding ex-spouses and ex-partners who, while no longer considered family members, nonetheless perpetrate violence against former members. Another criticism of the new law is that only penal and "learned" justices of the peace (jueces de paz letrados) can apply the protection measures provided by the law; this means that ordinary justices of the peace (jueces de paz) in small towns, who had handled nearly 60 per cent of cases before, are not entitled to apply such measures. Although women in small towns can seek protection measures from justices or judges in other locations, the transportation entails an economic cost that would exclude many women from seeking such redress.
Among the positive changes brought by the new law, the report published by the Flora Tristan Centre in Lima highlights the new definition of family violence, which includes "any action or omission that causes physical or psychological injury, abuse without bodily injury, including threats and grave coercion" (cualquier acción u omisión que cause daño físico, psicológico, maltrato sin lesión, inclusive amenazas y la coacción grave).
Another positive development is that the law establishes as state policy free assistance for medical examinations required by the police, attorneys or judicial authorities; the certificates provided by state health establishments are given full evidentiary weight in trials related to family violence. The law also gives authority to certain state bodies to convene conciliatory hearings (audiencias de conciliación), and requires all police detachments to receive any report of family violence and conclude an investigation by submitting a report on the case to the Family Prosecutor's (fiscal de familia) office and to the penal judge or to the justice of the peace. The degree of injury sustained by the victim can determine whether the penal judge or the justice of the peace hears the case.
The law authorizes police to obtain any reports or documents it considers necessary to complete its investigation, and in cases where the accused refuses to cooperate, the police is authorized to summarily detain him or her. The Family Attorney acts on verbal or written reports by a victim or their relative, on police reports, or by direct personal knowledge of a case involving family violence. The Prosecutor can order immediate protection measures if serious risk is perceived, and the measures can be adjusted to the needs of each specific case. The Attorney can also convene a conciliatory hearing, but cannot force a woman to attend if she is afraid or unwilling: her safety and peace of mind take priority. If a conciliatory arrangement takes place, it will carry the weight of a judicial sentence, and its fulfilment can be judicially ordered. Family judges (jueces de familia) can intervene upon request by a Family Attorney or by a victim, and have the authority to order immediate protection measures.
The judge's sentence must include:
1) protection measures (suspension of cohabitation, temporary expulsion of the aggressor, forbidding visits by the aggressor, and any other deemed necessary by the judge);
2) treatment for the victim, the family, and the aggressor, if deemed appropriate;
3) reparation or redress for injuries;
4) financial or alimentary support.
Despite the provision guaranteeing free medical examinations, the legal processes can be long and fees are charged for judicial services; this could exclude many women from seeking redress. The report adds that women's groups have to get involved in public education and debate to ensure effective application of the law.
Another report published by the Flora Tristan Centre discusses the judicial and practical limitations of the new law (Rojas Ortiz 1998). According to the report, the two main weaknesses of the new law do not stem from the law itself, but rather from two systemic problems: the existence of sexist prejudice, and the lack of knowledge and training among the agents of the justice system.
A limitation of the new law is that prosecutors do not have the power to ensure that measures they indicate are carried out; another is the legal criteria used to determine when an injury is considered graveparticularly problematic when dealing with psychological injury, as there are no established parameters for this. The report recommends that attorneys, including Civilian Provincial Attorneys (fiscales provinciales civiles), be given additional powers.
It would appear that Law 26763 has had an effect, as the number of family violence cases brought before police and courts has increased steadily since its introduction (Fempress Jan.-Feb. 1998). Every police station, and not just the already established Women's Police Station (Comisaría de la Mujer), must now provide support and take action when necessary. In addition, the police force has created specialized sections at each police detachment (ibid.). By the end of 1997, the Flora Tristan Centre and the Women's Ministry (Ministerio de la Mujer) had completed a training course for police agents in Lima; the course was expected to be given throughout the country later on (ibid.). The report states that these developments provide hope that a problem largely neglected in the past (tan poco atendido anteriormente), the abuse of women, is finally being given serious consideration (ibid.).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Fempress [Santiago, Chile]. January-February 1998a. No. 195. "Mas Casas Refugios en Lima." [Internet]
_____. January-February 1998b. No. 195. "Seis de cada diez mujeres son maltratadas en el Peru" and "Feministas capacitan a policias." [Internet]
_____. January 1997. No. 183. Mariella Sala. "Los desafios del Ministerio de la Mujer." [Internet]
Loli, Silvia. 1997. "Violencia: avances y retrocesos en la normatividad." Lima: Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristán. [Internet]
Rojas Ortiz, Grecia E. 1998. "Ley de Violencia Familiar y el aparato de justicia." Lima: Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristán. [Internet]