If ever I was to become a victim of physical aggression, I should have to think twice before denouncing the act to the proper authorities. If you think I am crazy, then I will tell you the reasons.
The “Arlette” case. Arlette is a young woman studying law at a certain province of Peru. Almost a year ago, she was chased, beaten and dragged all over the floor of a hotel lobby while being pulled by the hair, by her ex-boyfriend. Despite the fact that the guy was completely naked while perpetrating the abuse, he showed no shame at all even though hewas in front of the security cameras and the staff of the hotel.
Arlette was “rescued” by the staff of the hotel and the police. She filed a lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend, citing attempted rape, attempted murder and battery leading to major injuries.
A year later, the judges presiding the case passed the verdict that: it wasn’t attempted rape, the injuries sustained by the plaintiff were minor, and it should be taken into consideration that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol (“and everyone can get a little bit aggressive when drunk, right?”). And so, he was released. And now Arlette is living scared, fearing some kind of retribution from that man. And well, who wouldn’t?
The “Lady” case. Lady is a young woman who was beaten by her boyfriend on the year 2012. The guy in question punched her in the face repeatedly, bit down her eyebrows and crashed her head against the walls time and again. Lady claims she thought she was going to die. Fortunately, her neighbours were alerted by the screaming and intervened timely to stop the aggression. Eventually, Lady healed physically, but she declares that the psychological damage still lingers.
Four years later, the judges presiding the case decided to release Lady’s aggressor, condemning him to “4 years of suspended prison”, which means that he will not be imprisoned at all unless he incurs in an act against the law again. Lady felt as though she had been beaten again, but now by the judiciary system in Perú.
The “María Elena” case. María Elena was a 20 years old woman. I have referred to her in the past tense due to the fact that she is now dead. María Elena was killed by a man (Erick) because she refused to engage in sexual intercourse with him. Following her refusal, he tried to force her, and when she resisted him, he went into the kitchen, picked a big knife and stabbed her several times. Afterwards, he put her inert body in his car, drove a little while and then tossed her onto the street just like that: as though it was garbage.
And do you know what the most infuriating part of this story is? That 5 months earlier, another girl had filed a lawsuit against that same man, citing sexual battery. He had beaten that girl, and also threatened her with a knife, trying to coerce her into having sexual intercourse with him. The girl escaped and screamed, and two of Erick’s neighbours helped her. While at the police station, the girl was deemed to carry “only minor injuries”, so the authorities decided that Erick could go free during the litigation process.
Months later, the girl had to drop the lawsuit because she didn’t have the money to pay for a lawyer. Whereas Erick, a man free to roam about, five months later finally kills a woman, using a knife, and in the same apartment where he assaulted the first girl.
So, WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING WITH THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN MY COUNTRY?
A woman shows videotaped evidence of the aggression that was inflicted upon her, she has a lot of witnesses, she shows her own disfigured face, she exposes herself in a state of fear and humiliation, and nobodycares? Lady can barely open one eye, and Arlette was dragged all over the floorlike an abused animal, and for the judges all that amounts to minor injuries?
So, what about the other women? Those who don’t have videotaped evidence, those who don’t have pictures and those who don’t have witnesses of the assault? Our judiciary system most likely will just say to them: “sorry,but you don’t have enough proof”; and when they showed up carrying proof, our judiciary system will just say: “oh well, it’s OK, no more than minor injuries, so you can go home and rest, and so will your aggressor”.
Peru haslaws against femicide, so why didn’t the judges take these cases as the attempts of femicide they actually were!?
The women in my country are furious, and many feminist organisations are planning a march for this August 13th, with the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (which would be translated as “not a single female less”) they are promoting adherence to the cause and creating enthusiasm around this event. In a private Facebook group, they are sharing experiences about sexual aggression, physical aggressions and more, they are forging bounds to ensure that this march will be more than just that: this march will aim to create awareness about the claims for justice for every woman who has ever been assaulted and never given legal remedy.
We are claiming: “if you touch one, you touch every one of us”, and under this motto, women are calling out to other women to rally in different cities of Peruon the same day.
“They want to see us deadbefore they do something!” claim some of this women, and I think: “yes, they do, because if they didn’t, then they’d be protecting us!”
Each one of us – from the woman who has her aggression videotaped to the woman who can’t afford to go to trial – deservejustice! Justice is for everyone.
I will be in that march. Because I am tired of walking with fear at night, fear that some men would try and touch me or rapeme or kill me. I am not overreacting, Peru is the country in Latin America with the second highest rate of femicide, so I have many reasons to be afraid. And in case someone touches me, rapes me or kill me… WOULD I GET JUSTICE?