“A total of 915 people – 606 girls and 309 women – have been reported missing from the start of lockdown on March 16 through June 30,” said Isabel Ortiz, a women’s right’s commissioner in the National Ombudsman’s office in an interview with Reuters.
The number of reported missing cases of women per day has surged from five to eight daily cases after the lockdown. Women’s ministry in Peru has notified that the total reports of missing women and children have risen to 1200, adding the cases reported in July.
Authorities recorded the alarming rates at which the cases spiked and called for action from the Peruvian government against the rising femicide – the killing of women by men and – pushing them to create a missing person registry. “We know the numbers of women and girls who have disappeared, but we don’t have detailed information about how many have been found,” Ortiz said. “We don’t have proper and up-to-date records.”
As the cases increase, the lack of national registry to record the updates on all the missing reports (whether found dead or alive) veils the actual number of cases, while making it hard to track the crisis. Speaking about the national register, Ortiz stated, “A national missing person register would allow cross-referencing of information with other crimes against women to help find missing people and identify potential suspects”. She believes a proper register would help to link the disappearances of women to other crimes like sexual violence, human trafficking, and forced prostitution.
Authorities claim that in most cases the perpetrator of the crime is often the one who reported it. NGO’s and women’s rights groups say that “there is resistance from the police to investigate these cases”, or they deny investigating it, make fun of the victims or assert the victims voluntarily left their homes.
One in three Peruvian women experiences physical or sexual violence in their house most likely from a family or a partner, estimated UN. Almost 20 million women and adolescents are subjected to domestic violence in Peru in a year.
Peru, reportedly, has one of the highest rates of violence in Latin America which is “driven by a macho culture and social norms that dictate women’s roles.” The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated violent crimes like domestic violence and femicide. In 2019, Peru reported 166 killings of women of which merely a tenth of the cases was first reported to be missing. According to the Women’s Ministry, under 30,000 calls were made to report domestic violence.
A wave of national protests to spread awareness about the staggering gender-based violence was rocking the country right before pandemic took over. “Femicide is not unique to Peru. The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a global spotlight on how male violence against women will continue to flourish unless and until the authorities take it seriously and hold perpetrators to account,” said an NGO official.
Feature Image Via Canva