Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (Aidesep) stands against a bill that expunges “gender violence” and related concepts from every official document and public policy.
Aidesep, one of the most well-represented Indigenous organizations in Peru, claims the bill puts women’s rights at risk, especially the Indigenous, citing the high number of femicides and physical violence in the Amazon communities.
“The vulnerability of indigenous women is very high. The State still has pending debts to eradicate this problem,” the statement reads.
The bill 3610/2018-CR was promoted by the spokesperson of the Fujimori far-right Popular Force (FP) party Carlos Tubio, on Nov. 7, and aims to ban the word “gender” and all its derivative concepts, such as “gender equality,” “gender perspective,” “gender violence,” “and any other word that threatens equality between men and women.”
The Fujimori party argues that such concepts and public policies “generate confusion in society” and are at odds with the equality principles stated in the Constitution, “especially because of the linguistic ambiguities of such expressions that remove man and woman from the scene.”
It would also change the name of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Peoples (MIMP) to “Ministry of Family, Women and Vulnerable Peoples,” giving it the duty to protect “family and its members under a perspective of equality between woman and man, making sure they have the same conditions and opportunities of all members of the family.”
The law project has sparked controversy in Peru, where PF is still one of the largest political forces, and feminist and human rights organizations have warned about its potentially negative effects on LGBT and women’s rights.
But the women of Aidesep have a different perspective and explain that violence against women is present at different levels and spaces. Removing “gender perspective” from every law, code and public policy would only make them more vulnerable. As an example, they highlight the “the bad practices of private companies’ projects that can generate different impacts on indigenous women, fostering violent situations towards them.”
To counter gender violence in their communities, Aidesep and other regional organizations carry out workshops in the Peruvian Amazon, trying to cultivate respect for their rights, and also look for the support of lawmakers to legislate for women’s rights.
But conservative organizations have showed their support for the bill. The ‘Don’t Mess With My Children’ collective organized a march on Nov. 15 to “end the imposition of gender ideology by the State.”
“We demand for Education Minister Daniel Alfaro to stop promoting ideologies that are against life and family in the National Policy of Education,” they protested.
On Jul 28, President Martin Vizcarra declared that a gender perspective was “important to eradicate violence in the country” and announced he would promote a National Policy for Gender Equality to reduce femicide numbers and cases of violence against women.
The bill, signed and supported by several conservative parties, also has the support of the former Justice Minister Salvador Heresi, who declared in an interview that he didn’t read it because he was busy with the Lava Jato debate.
“I will check it thoroughly to see if it goes against the government’s policies. If so, I’ll immediately remove my signature,” he said.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women commemorates the murders of the Mirabal Sisters in Dominican Republic on Nov. 25, 1960.