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"In our March/April news section we reported on a rape law in Peru that said if a rapist married his victim, he would not be prosecuted. On March 12, the New York Times ran a front-page story on the issue, and, on April 4, the Peruvian Congress voted to repeal the law. "
- From Ms. Magazine (July/August 1997 issue):

For background on this issue, see below. Thanks to all of you for all your activism!

From The New York Times (3/16/97):

"Women anywhere are understandably reluctant to report rape. But in much of Latin America, women have a particularly potent reason to keep silent. The law in 14 Latin nations decrees that if a rapist marries his victim, he's off the hook. In Costa Rica, all he must do is offer; whether she accepts it or not, he's free. And in Peru, if it's a group attack, all the rapists are exonerated if one of them walks up the aisle."

"In Lima, a 17-year-old girl on her way home from work was raped by a group of drunken men. Her family tracked them down, vowing vengeance, and she was set to press charges. Then one of the men proposed, and two others vowed to slash her face if she refused. Her relatives, the family honor at stake, pressured her to accept. She did. Her husband abandoned her a few months later."

From Ms. Magazine (March/April 1997 issue):

"The law stems from the traditional notion that a woman who has been raped is unmarriageable and that her virginity - or lack of it - is a private matter to be dealt with by her family. Rather than risk a loss of honor, especially if a rape case is reported to authorities and becomes public knowledge, many families give their daughters to the men who raped them...

"The Defense of Women's Rights (DEMUS) and the Latin American Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Women (CLADEM) submitted a draft law to several congressional committees demanding that rapists be subject to criminal prosecution in all cases. "This is about human rights, not virginity," says Teresa Hernandez of DEMUS, a group of Peruvian lawyers that lobbies against violence against women and represents victims of such violence. DEMUS, which is currently handling the cases of 15 women who were forced into marrying their rapists, published a study that said that three rapes an hour (25,000 a year) are committed in Peru. The great majority of these cases involve victims under age 14. Only an estimated one third of the cases are reported to police, and a mere 11 percent make it to court, the group said."

This obvious outrage requires an immediate outcry - and although there is no convenient e-mail address, we urge you to take five minutes right now and send letters supporting efforts to change rape laws to CLADEM Peru (to be forwarded to the Peruvian Congress):

P.O. Box 110470
Lima 11, Peru




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