Opinion: In Peru we all are rapists


By Patricia del Río for Perú21
Translated and edited by Jorge Riveros-Cayo

Opinion: We all are rapists
3,257 children were raped in Peru durinng 2010, according to del Río.  (Photo: Hebz 2007)

A seven-month old baby was raped by her father in Satipo [Peru’s central jungle]. The news is so horrifying, that just writing about it makes me feel terribly sad, but also drowns me in an immense rage against the heartless aggressor. However, if you ask me what has impressed me the most about this horrible crime, I would say it has been the dubious behavior of us all. And by “us,” I mean journalists, citizens, teachers, parents, doctors, attorneys, authorities, neighbors, ALL OF US. The entire society.

I will explain myself: since the news hit the headlines we have witnessed a gruesome display of details such as how the baby was attacked, what is her physical condition, or the collateral damage this unfortunate event will leave her in the future. I have seen unscrupulous reconstructions of the crime in the morning news programs using baby dolls and other objects. I have heard doctors and attorneys explain what kind of operations has been done to that tiny girl. I also know, thanks to this great media coverage, the names and surnames of the father and the mother, leaving the baby’s identity undisclosed.

Many will blame it all on the press. Or on the fact that we have a fascination for morbid news. And yes, there is something of that. But I wish that would be the only cause for which society keeps violating this baby’s privacy. The real reason this happens is because we DO NOT care about children. Let us be honest: the presidential candidates try really hard promising better education and nutrition programs for our children. We use their little faces in publicity to sell the idea of a better country, but we close our car windows and deny them alms; we sit down and watch them talk on television (with their faces disclosed) about what has been done to them, and we think it is quite natural to see them giving out flyers on the street corners, or with their heads against the sidewalks, sleeping past ten o’clock at night.

We are so used to see them suffer mistreatment on a daily basis, that we are hardly moved. That is why we do not protest, or even raise an eyebrow when cases such as the baby from Satipo are exposed publicly, without a bit of sensitivity and respect. According to official data from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, 3,257 children were raped in 2010 and only 651 people were arrested for these crimes. The rest of the rapers are probably strolling relaxed in the streets, molesting other children for sure. And we just sit around without demanding more effectiveness or clear, strong policies against children sexual abuse.

But of course, nobody beats us when we have to cry out loud “death penalty,” while we still ignore that kid on the corner begging us for a coin or two. God knows how many times these kids might have been disgustingly molested in exchange for money.

Patricia del Río hosts a program in Radio Programas del Perú and writes a weekly political column in Perú21. Read her profile of Jaime Bayly in
15 Peruvians of 2010.