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Hundreds of Peru women and girls gone missing during virus lockdown

07:10 | 08/08/2020

At least 1,200 disappearances reported across Latin American country since the start of coronavirus pandemic in March.

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hundreds of peru women and girls gone missing during virus lockdown
Peru's women's ministry said 1,200 women and girls had been reported missing during the pandemic. Photo: Filepic

Hundreds of women and girls have gone missing and are feared dead in Peru since a lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, reported Aljazeera.

From March 16 through June 30, a total of 915 people - 606 girls and 309 women - were reported missing, according to authorities.

Last week, Peru's women's ministry said 1,200 women and girls had been reported missing during the pandemic - a higher figure that included the month of July.

"The figures are really quite alarming," Isabel Ortiz, a women's rights official, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

"We know the numbers of women and girls who have disappeared, but we don't have detailed information about how many have been found," she said. "We don't have proper and up-to-date records."

The Andean nation home to 33 million people has long had a domestic violence problem, but the home confinement measures because of the pandemic has made the situation worse, said Eliana Revollar, who leads the women's rights office of the National Ombudsman's office.

Peru is one of the hardest virus-hit Latin American nations, with more than 430,000 COVID-19 cases and 20,000 related deaths.

Hospitals are struggling to cope with the rising number of patients and healthcare workers have protested against a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

hundreds of peru women and girls gone missing during virus lockdown
Doctors and nurses say they’re struggling to treat a flood of patients even before the expected peak of new coronavirus cases. Photo: ABC News

Before COVID-19, five women were reported missing in Peru every single day, but since the lockdown, that number has surged to eight a day.

The women's ministry said the government was working to eradicate violence against women and had increased funding this year for gender-based violence prevention programmes.

Countries worldwide have reported increases in domestic violence under coronavirus lockdowns, prompting the United Nations to call for urgent government action.

Before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of women throughout Latin America, including Peru, were staging mass street demonstrations demanding that their governments should act against gender-based violence.

hundreds of peru women and girls gone missing during virus lockdown
Women and girls in Peru are struggling with domestic violence issues. Photo: peru-zo

Lockdowns around the world are helping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but women and girls are paying the consequences.

Girls and women forced to stay home in Latin America and the Caribbean are at a heightened risk of gender-based violence, the organization Plan International USA warned.

According to the report “Surge in violence against girls and women in Latin America and the Caribbean” released by Plan International in May. Imbalanced household burdens, machismo culture, and the prevalence of victim-blaming survivors all contribute to high domestic violence rates in Colombia. Domestic violence reports during stay-at-home orders skyrocketed by 175% compared to the same time last year in the country, according to government data.

In El Salvador, male family members often have authority over women and violent gang culture condones the abuse of women. Gender-based violence complaints have spiked by 70% during the COVID-19 crisis.

Meanwhile, in Peru, violence against women is prevalent across all socioeconomic groups and in rural and urban areas. Social norms, however, have prevented leaders from acknowledging domestic violence as a major issue.

(Source: Global Citizen)

hundreds of peru women and girls gone missing during virus lockdown
Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in an increase of domestic violence throughout the region. Photo: The Dialogue
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Tony Nguyen

Reuters, Aljazeera