Public outrage in Peru over an unfair ruling in a case of violence against women culminated Tuesday in a national movement called “Ni Una Menos” or “Not One Less.”
The new movement comes after men involved in the brutal attacks against Cindy Contreras and Lady Guillen received suspended sentences.
News of the judge's ruling first went viral on social media before mainstream media published the story.
The ensuing public backlash has led to a nationwide movement to protect women’s rights. A march has been set for August 13 to protest the ruling and call for an end to violence against women.
The case of 27-year-old Cindy Contreras shot into the public spotlight in 2015 after video footage of the attack was released.
In the videos, recorded by security cameras at a hotel in Ayacucho, southern Peru, a naked Adriano Pozo Arias is seen severely beating up Contreras and pulling her from her hair.
“He tried to rape me and kill me,” claims Contreras.
Despite the severity of the attack, the Superior Court of Ayacucho sentenced Pozo to one year of “suspended imprisonment.”
A suspended sentence means the person will be not serve time in prison but has to report periodically to the judicial system.
Lady Guillén’s case also caught public attention after photos of the dancer and an entertainer were made public in June 2012.
In the photos, the dancer’s face and body are seen to be heavily bruised and beaten
Guillen publicly accused her former partner Ronny García for the physical abuse.
After four years, the Superior Court of Lima sentenced García to four years of suspended imprisonment, which means he will not serve a single day in prison.
“They have to see you die to have some justice,” Guillén stated after the judges gave the verdict.
In just one day, tens of thousands of people have signed up online to participate in the marches being organized under the banner of “Not One Less.”
In the Facebook group of the movement, hundreds of women overnight have shared personal cases of gender violence. The goals of the campaign are to demand justice from the state and educate the public on the problems of violence against women.
Gender violence is rampant in Peru. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable People reported that 54 women have been murdered by their partners. There have been a further 118 femicide attempts.
The official date also shows that seven out of 10 Peruvian women have experienced physical violence and according to the feminist organization Flora Tristan, 42 percent of women do not report incidents because they believe they will not receive justice. In 2011, Congress passed a law to add femicide to the legal code but the number of violent attacks against women continues to grow unabated.
For the director of Flora Tristan, Liz Meléndez, impunity is one of the causes for the growing number of femicides since perpetrators believe they can get away with the crime. She also argues that the cases of Contreras and Guillén sets a bad precedent for justice in Peru.
Meléndez explains, “what the judicial power is telling us with this judgments is that it does not matter if we denounce the violence because either way the aggressors are going to end up free.”
The ombudsman for Peru, Eduardo Vega, made a similar argument. In an official statement, he stated “Those types of decisions perpetuate impunity, favor social acceptance for the violence, and generate a sentiment of distrust, shame, guilt, and fear in the women victims, discouraging them from making accusations.”