Feminicide: Between Data and Social Indignation

Feminicide: Between Data and Social Indignation

In Peru anger rises towards the worst cases of violence while apathy reigns towards harassment and physical, psychological and economic violence. 

Creator: Jhony Laurente. All rights reserved.

After years of actions to raise awareness of feminicide as the cruellest expression of violence against women, we can say that significant progress has been achieved both at a political level and with regard to the increasing public outrage at this form of violence. Unfortunately, this has not led to a decrease in the number of cases. 

In terms of progress made in confronting feminicide, we note the following: (1) the creation of official databases of cases, (2) the typology of feminicide, (3) the Interagency Action Protocol to deal with feminicide, attempted feminicide and high risk intimate partner violence, (4) the approval of the Law against Violence towards Women and Family Members (Law 30364) with risk assessments of cases in order to prevent feminicides, and (5) the approval of the Legislative Decree 1323 which includes aggravating circumstances in the sentencing.

Databases of feminicide cases

The collection and analysis of data on feminicide cases was started by feminist organizations [1]. Later, in 2009 the Public Ministry (MP in its Spanish acronym) [2] decided that a Registry of feminicides and attempted feminicides should be set up within the Criminality Observatory, where currently a database continues to be compiled with data supplied by family, criminal and mixed prosecutors.

This database can be accessed by the public and provides key information based on variables such as ages of the victim and the perpetrator, the relation between them, and the details and location of the criminal act [3]

That same year the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP in its Spanish acronym) [4] started the Registry of victims of feminicide and attempted feminicide, which is managed by the National Program against Family and Sexual Violence. This registry – which can be accessed by the public – uses data mainly provided by the media [5], as well as a database of cases that arrive at the attention centres in charge in this sector (Centres for Women in Emergencies).

According to the database provided by the MIMP, which is updated every two months, 927 cases of feminicide and 1,165 cases of attempted feminicide were reported between 2009 and 2017 – an average of 115 cases per year.

The variables handled by the MIMP are quite complex [6]. Apart from the data provided by the Public Ministry, there is a more complete profile of the victim, the location of the crime [7] and information about the victim’s previous reports of violence. According to this database, 45% of women reported acts of aggression before suffering an attack on their lives. 

Some recommendations to improve these databases are as follows: 

  • Unify databases, taking into account the many variables, the possibility of updating and the impact of the MIMP database with the aim of creating a joint Observatory [8]
  • Increase research into non-intimate feminicides
  • Collect information about the situation of indigenous Amazonian and Afro-descendent women, as well as women with disabilities
  • Include the variable: sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Provide data that help establish a link between missing persons and feminicide
  • Information about the legal status of the perpetrators, sentences and aggravating circumstances of the crime, with the implementation of the feminicide law and any future legislation pertaining to the final goal
  • Inform about the situation regarding sons/daughters in orphanages as a result of the violence
  • Include information about suicides of women victims of gender-based violence and forced pregnancies as a result of sexual violence. Increase research and conceptualization of feminicide violence, as a form of sexist violence that leads women to their deaths

Beyond data, social outrage

In the last five years the feminist movement has significantly diversified throughout the country. With its base in feminist organizations [9] and academia, the movement has significantly broadened to numerous women’s collectives, groups, local and regional initiatives as well as individual activism that constitutes a transformative force. 

The growth of communication media and the use of social media have created greater possibilities for exchanges of information and for coordination to confront violence against women at both a global and national level. 

The demonstration and march Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) – Peru of 2016 was a milestone not only in the history of mobilizations against male violence, but also contributed enormously to make concrete changes in the people who came out onto the streets in large numbers to defend the right to live without violence. The demonstration also had a significant impact on the State, resulting in the approval of legislation to improve sentencing and an increased focus on the victims. However, the response from the authorities and the budgets allocated are still far from sufficient; impunity for offenders is still the norm and the issue of prevention is generally neglected. 

While the issue of women’s rights has become more publicized and the work and actions of the feminist movement feature more in the public discourse, it is important to note that conservative and fundamentalist forces have strengthened their strategies and become more active in disseminating messages of hate and opposition to equality.

Despite decreasing tolerance of gender-based violence and greater public concern about it, only the very worst cases of violence against women – such as feminicide and the rape of young girls – ignite widespread public opprobrium. However, there still exists indifference when it comes to other forms of aggression such as harassment, psychological, economic and physical violence, adult sexual violence, lesbophobia, transphobia and the denial of reproductive rights to women.

We can conclude that on the one hand feminist organizations have been responsible for the creation of national feminicide databases, which have been a significant factor behind new policies aimed at the prevention, penalization and attention of all violence perpetrated against women. 

On the other hand, the combination of visibility given to the cases, data and strength of argument along with a local and globalized feminist movement using all its varied means of expression (i.e. social media), have helped to create greater public outrage. However, it is necessary to continue working to confront the conservative resistance and ensure that this public anger is not focused solely on the cruellest cases of violence, but on the complete situation of exclusion suffered by women, as feminicide is the last link in the chain of discrimination.

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[1] Specifically, in 2003 by the Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan and Demus, which compiled the first database from information in newspapers. The database was shared with state institutions and played a key role in incidence. Qualitative and quantitative data demonstrated the fatal consequences of the prevalence of violence and the characteristics of gender-based crimes.

[2] The Criminality Observatory has the responsibility for the Register of Feminicides and attempted Feminicides as mandated by a ruling by the Attorney General No 216-2009- MP-FN. Another ruling by the Attorney General 1690-2009- MP-FN resulted in Decree No 006-2009- MP-FN which called for the inclusion in the Feminicide Register of those cases where the aggressor had no intimate relation with the woman (non-intimate feminicides) as well as attempted feminicides.

[3] The latest information available provides data up to 2015, where it is reported that between 2009 and 2015 there were 299 cases of feminicide.

[4] As mandated by the Ministerial Resolution No 110-2009 MIMDES dated March 6, 2009.

[5] This information is checked with the authorities, both the National Police and the Public Ministry to confirm its veracity.

[6] The records can be accessed at: http://www.mimp.gob.pe/contigo/contenidos/pncontigo-articulos.php?codigo=39

[7] Data separated into urban, rural and urban-marginal zones.

[8] Although up to now, in order to facilitate joint access, the MIMP has highlighted in its report the data produced by the Public Ministry.

[9] There is historical effort – decades of struggle and raising awareness about women’s rights by feminist organizations in the country.

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