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Fury over Peru president’s reaction to woman’s murder by stalker

Category: Gender based violence 

Women’s rights activists in Peru have expressed outrage after the country’s president responded to the murder of a woman who was burned to death by a stalker by saying “sometimes that’s how life is”.

Eyvi Agreda died on Friday from infections caused by the attack in April which left 60% of her body covered in second and third-degree burns.

Agreda’s assailant, Carlos Hualpa, doused her with petrol on a bus and set her alight, telling her: “If you aren’t mine then you’ll be nobody’s.” According to her family, he had harassed her for two years, but police had not responded to her complaints.

Late on Friday, Peru’s president Martín Vizcarra offered his sympathies to Agreda’s family and demanded a life sentence for Hualpa – but then provoked widespread fury by adding: “Sometimes that’s how life is and we have to accept it.”

On Saturday,  women’s rights protesters from the NiUnaMenos movement were teargassed by police as they demonstrated outside the country’s judiciary demanding justice in femicide cases and an end to impunity.

Veronika Mendoza, a former presidential candidate and leader of the leftist Nuevo Peru party, tweeted: “No, Mr Martin Vizcarra, this is not ‘how life is.’”

“Eyvi was killed by Carlos Hualpa but also machismo in the state and in society. Promote policies with a gender focus to prevent and eradicate violence, don’t let them keep killing us; it’s in your hands,” she wrote.

Vizcarra announced the police stations would be on 24-hour alert and he would set up an emergency committee but women’s rights movements say a state of emergency should be declared across the country over the level of violence against women.

“Declaring an alert is OK but if it’s not converted into funding and policies in which sex education includes gender equality there will be little change,” said Rossina Guerrero, the programme director at Promsex.

“Regrettably, this president has ceded to the ultra-conservatives and doesn’t want to talk about the structural causes of violence against women like machismo,” she said.

The political right, which dominates Peru’s congress, has allied with evangelical groups and sectors of the Catholic church, to force the amendment of the school curriculum which, they claim, promotes same-sex relationships through “gender ideology”.

Rights groups argue this move rolls back the teaching of gender equality and perpetuates sexist attitudes which, ultimately, leads to higher levels of gender violence and rape. Nearly 20% of Peruvian prisoners are in jail for sex crimes, particularly the sexual abuse of minors, according the country’s justice ministry.

“[Vizcarra] is making political calculations at the cost of women’s lives,” Guerrero added.

There were 43 femicides and 103 attempted femicides in the first four months of 2018, according to women’s ministry statistics, a rise of 26.4% compared the same period last year.



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