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UN experts urge Peru to step up efforts to tackle discrimination against women

LIMA / GENEVA (22 September 2014) –The Government of Peru  must do more to tackle deep-rooted gender discrimination and violence that affect many Peruvian women and the machismo which oppresses and silences them, United Nations human rights experts have said.

“In the past decade, the country has seen rapid and sustained economic growth and reduction of poverty. This has not resulted in improvement of the Human Development Index and has not brought decent work opportunities for the vast majority of Peruvians, with women particularly severely affected by the precarious nature of employment,” said experts Frances Raday and Alda Facio from the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice at the end of their first official mission* to Peru.

“Some 78% of working women are in informal work, without social security, annual leave, maternity leave, or breastfeeding breaks, and without health coverage or occupational pensions,” the experts observed.

“Peru has made considerable efforts in recent years to reinforce its legal and institutional framework regarding the promotion and protection of women’s human rights and gender equality,” said Ms.Raday and Ms.Facio. But they noted that women in sectors with a typically female workforce, including domestic work, agro-export and craft industries, suffer discrimination under the law, which entitles them to lesser rights regarding minimum wage and hours of work.

“Despite the economic benefits to the country of the extractive industries, the serious social and environmental consequences of the extractive industries, aggravated illegal and informal mining, for indigenous and rural communities are known, but the pervasive and extreme harm to women has not been acknowledged. Women told us how these industries have led to increased sexual violence and trafficking of girls, and how they see their cultural heritage being damaged,” said the experts.

Ms Raday and Ms Facio also raised other concerns:
 
High rate of teenage pregnancy: “Young people are prohibited from obtaining contraception unless accompanied by a guardian. We call on the Government to ensure sex education from an early age in all schools and access to contraceptives to prevent teenage pregnancy and avoid unsafe illegal abortions.” 

Violence against women: “This is widely seen as a severe and widespread problem in all spheres of life, including home, school, work and public spaces. It requires urgent action at all levels. Investigations and prosecutions of crimes against women are still not receiving the priority they deserve.”
 
Access to justice: “Many of the women we spoke to, especially rural and indigenous women, face huge hurdles in seeking justice, including cost, language barriers, lack of familiarity with their rights, and distrust of  the judiciary and police. They can also risk becoming a victim all over again and suffering stigma if they approach the justice system.”
 
1980-2000 internal conflict: Crimes against women from this period have not been adequately compensated or punished.

Discrimination in reproductive rights against women in poverty:  An appalling number of forced sterilisations were carried out in the 1990s as a form of birth control for poor women, with no appropriate redress or prosecution. Though there is a right to contraception, free contraception is not always available and the Constitutional Court has banned emergency contraception from public health.

Racism: The Government should step up its efforts to combat deeply-rooted racism and racial stereotypes, which lead to multiple forms of discrimination and violence against indigenous, peasant and Afro-Peruvian women.

During their nine-day visit from 11 to 19 September, the Working Group members met Government officials in Lima and Ayacucho. They also met representatives of civil society and UN entities.

Based on the information obtained during the mission, the Working Group will present a report with final findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June 2015.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15078&LangID=E

The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice was created by the Human Rights Council in 2011 to identify, promote and exchange views, in consultation with States and other actors, on good practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women. The Group is also tasked with developing a dialogue with States and other actors on laws that have a discriminatory impact where women are concerned.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts: the Current Chair-Rapporteur Frances Raday (Israel/United Kingdom), Alda Facio (Costa Rica), Kamala Chandrakirana (Indonesia), Emna Aouij (Tunisia) and Eleonora Zielinska (Poland). Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Peru: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/PEIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Lima: Christian Sánchez (Christian.sanchez@unic.org  / +51 1 6259140)
In Geneva: Hannah Wu (+41 22 917 9152 / hwu@ohchr.org) or Bernadette Arditi (+41 22 917 9159 or +41 79 752 0485 / barditi@ohchr.org) or write to wgdiscriminationwomen@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN mandates:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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