Historic verdict in Peru: 10 former soldiers convicted for sexual violence

Some former soldiers will have to serve sentences of six to twelve years for the sentence in the "Manta y Vilca" case: it is the first time that Peru opens a judicial trial for sexual violence as a crime against humanity

Forty years after the events and twenty years since investigations began, a landmark ruling has been achieved in a gender violence case, known in documents as the Manta y Vilca case. The judges have sentenced 10 former soldiers to prison terms ranging from six to twelve years. These individuals, members of the Peruvian army, sexually abused nine peasant women in the Huancavelica region, located in the southern mountains, in 1984.

In delivering the verdict, the First National Criminal Superior Court for Temporary Liquidation of the National Superior Court of Specialized Criminal Justice declared that these acts constitute crimes against humanity.

Historical context and military abuses

During the bloodiest days of terrorism, the government at the time effectively declared a state of emergency in several areas of Peru, setting up military bases. However, some regiments, under the pretense of fulfilling their mission to protect the population, committed various abuses.

This was precisely what happened in the adjacent neighborhoods of Huancavelica: Manta and Vilca.

A groundbreaking ruling

The sentence is significant because it is the first time Peru has opened a judicial process for sexual violence as a crime against humanity in the context of internal armed conflict. However, this milestone comes amid opposition: just a couple of weeks ago, Congress initially approved a bill aimed at prescribing the trials of those accused and convicted of crimes against humanity for acts committed before July 2002.

The scope of sexual violence

According to El Pais, the single registry of victims from the Ministry of Justice’s Reparations Council records over 4,800 cases of sexual violence between 1980 and 2000. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) concluded that 83% of these cases were perpetrated by law enforcement.

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