Face on a milk carton? Peruvian NGO distributes thousands of matchboxes stamped with faces of male assassins and abusers

Peruvian women’s rights groups distributed thousands of matchboxes embossed with the photos of men, famous and unknown, accused of violence against women to raise awareness in Peru ’s capital, Lima, for the International Non-Violence against Women Day.

Among the images embossed on the matchboxes of wife murderers and rapists is former President Alberto Fujimori, who during his 10-year, authoritarian rule in the 1990s implemented a policy of coercing thousands of poor Andean women into undergoing sterilization surgery.

International Non-Violence against Women Day, celebrated each year on Nov. 25, is of special importance in a country like Peru, where approximately nine women are killed each month, by their current or former significant other.

From January 2004 to July 2007, more than 400 of these gender-based murders, or feminicides, were perpetrated in Peru, reported the NGO Demus.

The term “feminicide” is distinct from its root “femicide,” and is purposefully politically charged. It is used by feminists in Peru — and throughout Latin America – to describe the crime not only committed by the male, but also by the State and judicial structures that normalize misogyny, and fail to ensure the safety of female citizens.

According to Demus, in 30 percent of registered cases of feminicide, the murdered women had already and repeatedly been victims of abuse and had asked for help from police, or other government-sponsored institutions.

Feminicides are on the rise in Peru, and according to the November 25th Collective — an umbrella group for 41 NGOs and women’s organizations — the increase can be attributed to two main factors: lack of government funds dedicated to prevention and protection, and a weak justice system that perpetrates impunity.

The government has dedicated 14 million soles, or approximately $4.6 million, to prevention, said Carmen Vildoso, Minister of Women and Social Development.

This is largely insufficient, she added.

Vildoso also holds Peru’s judicial system responsible for the increase of violence against women, by not adequately sanctioning authors of this violence, and the Congress, for not approving stricter and more drastic laws in agreement to commitments made by Peru at the international level.

Congress has yet to initiate debate about a bill titled “Crimes against the International Law of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” which proposes to modify Peru’s penal code to standards set by the Rome Statute, and to incorporate crimes against International Humanitarian Law, widely known as the law of armed conflict.

“This project would allow us to sanction sexual violence committed during the armed conflict that affected our country,” said Vildoso, “as well as the (forced) sterilizations committed during Alberto Fujimori’s government. Until that happens, aggressors will continue to enjoy impunity.”

Non-Violence Against Women Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls by increasing awareness, and revitalizing the spirit of anti-violence.

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