Discriminatory and sexual violence laws in Latin America stigmatize teenage abuse victims-a global issue

  • View Barbara Jimenez-SantiagoWashington DC)
  • International news agency

Discriminatory laws that perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes reinforce the stigma of survivors and tolerance of abusers.

Equality Now recently analyzed the rape laws in the Americas and we found that the laws are severely inadequate and fail to adequately prevent sexual violence and ensure justice for women and girls who have been abused. One of the most common but insidious legal loopholes we have found in Latin America is the so-called “estupro clause.”


The Estupro clause penalizes the rape of a teenager over the legal age of consent less than the punishment for children or adult women. The basis is that teenagers seduce and seduce older men to attack them, or older men seduce susceptible and naive people and teenagers. Have sex.

This interpretation puts forward a concept of the rank of rape, in which case some perpetrators are considered to be actually the same crimes less severe than others, while some victims are implied to be less harmed by this experience. , So it does not deserve to be treated fairly.


These laws are rooted in outdated concepts of chastity, morality, and female sexuality, allowing prosecutors to argue that teenage victims manipulated attackers to abuse them. Estupro’s laws and regulations continue the view that the victim is at least responsible for the crimes committed against her.

Estupro is often incorrectly defined as “statutory rape” on the Internet, but the two charges are not the same. The commonly used statutory rape in the Criminal Code of the United States of America refers to sexual acts that would have been regarded as mutually agreed, but the minor involved in the minor is too young, which means that the law considers that she or he is not capable of giving consent.

The punishment for statutory rape is usually higher than for other types of rape, while the punishment for estupro is lighter.


Regarding our report on rape laws in the Americas, Failure to Protect: How Discriminatory Sexual Violence Laws and Practices Hurt Women, Girls, and Adolescents in the Americas, We interviewed Doña Petita, whose daughter Paola was raped by a school deputy principal in Ecuador.

Paula tragically committed suicide after becoming pregnant and performed an abortion under pressure from the abuser. Her killing occurred after the continued abuse and grooming of an adult man, who manipulated his position of power and her trust in him.

Doña Petita was unable to obtain support after the tragic death of her adolescent daughter. Not from the school, not from the law enforcement agency, not from the court. Paola’s rapist is a very powerful person in the community. He has access to lawyers, resources, and political connections, while Doña Petita does not.


In addition, Paola’s community did not see her as a victim, but as an actor who was equally guilty of the abuse she suffered. As Doña Petita told us: “Paola is a girl, he is a man in his 60s, but people accuse my daughter, saying that she must have seduce him. They don’t understand that he is an old man who manipulates her. Not the other way around. She is the victim.”

Estupro law strengthens the concept of accusing victims, so it is not surprising that Ecuador is one of the 17 jurisdictions found in our report to have such regulations. In practice, the estupro clause is often used to circumvent the application of rape, thereby minimizing the crime and implying that sex is not violent.

By applying the estupro clause, prosecutors and judges have continued the myth that adolescent girls are treacherous seducers and manipulators, plundering helpless adult men. As Paula’s case proves, these harmful myths and gender stereotypes have far-reaching effects.

Doña Petita has difficulty delivering justice in her native Ecuador. She adopted three different legal proceedings, but in each case, her case was dismissed. The abuser of her daughter fled the country and was never held accountable for her crimes.

Thanks to Doña Petita’s unremitting determination and the efforts of the non-profit organization Centro Ecuatoriano para la Promoción y Acción de la Mujer (CEPAM-Guayaquil) and the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held that Ecuador was responsible for the failure to protect Paula and violate her right to life, The right to integrity, the right to private life and the right to dignity; she enjoyed the special protection rights of the state as a child; her right to equality and non-discrimination; her right to education; and her right to be free from gender-based violence.

The court’s ruling was not only a victory for Paola and Doña Petita, but also a victory for girls in the entire region. However, Doña Petita should not wait 18 years for justice-she should be able to rely on national laws to protect her daughter and hold her daughter’s abuser accountable. so that.

If this happens, Paola will be recognized and provide support services for her exploitation, and she may be alive today. But the sexual violence laws in the region, like those encountered by Paula, are failing women, girls, and teenagers, leading to tragic results.

Discriminatory laws, such as the estupro clause, not only deny justice to victims, but also legitimize accusations of victims by implying that adult perpetrators may be lured or tricked into having sex with minors. Latin American governments must take immediate action to abolish any existing estupro clauses.

This reform must be complemented by comprehensive reforms of sexual violence laws, including the adoption of a consent-based definition of rape, to ensure that girls and all survivors are protected from sexual violence under all circumstances.

Reforming the Sexual Violence Law not only allows survivors of sexual violence to obtain justice with dignity, but also plays a key role in shaping the way society understands sexual and gender-based violence.

Barbara Jimenez-San Diego Is the regional representative of Latin America to promote equality


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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: International News Service

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