Peruvian Government Complies with Settlement in Decades-old Sexual Assault Case

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Closes Sexual Assault Case in Peruvian Public Hospital

(PRESS RELEASE) Almost 20 years since a doctor at a public hospital raped a young woman who was seeking medical care, the Peruvian government has finally complied with the friendly settlement of the woman’s case, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)—a main human rights body for the Americas.

The settlement the Peruvian government reached with the petitioners in March 2000, required the State to provide financial reparations to the young woman known as M.M., revoke the rapist’s medical license, improve access to justice in cases of sexual violence, and admit responsibility for the human rights violations that M.M. suffered under international law.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“No woman should fear that she will be raped by a doctor entrusted to provide her with critical medical care, and no woman who suffers such deplorable treatment should have to wait this long for justice to be served.”

“We commend the Peruvian government for accepting its responsibility for this young woman’s   suffering and taking action to prevent this situation from being repeated.”

“Now it’s time for Perú’s policymakers to build on this work to ensure all cases of sexual violence are expedited and handled fairly, and all women are protected from similar violations of their fundamental human rights.”

M.M. was 22 years old when she went to the Carlos Monge Medrano Juliaca Public Hospital in January 1996 complaining of a severe headache and pain throughout her body, stemming from involvement in a traffic accident a few months earlier. Instead of treating M.M. for her symptoms, the doctor at the hospital lured her into an examination room where he drugged and raped her.

After filing a criminal report immediately after the rape, M.M. was subjected to mistreatment and discrimination from the hospital staff, police, and the judicial system. Her case was dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence in July 1997.   

The Center, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM) and DEMUS (Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer) filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on April 23, 1998 on behalf of M.M. The friendly settlement was reached on March 6, 2000.

As part of the settlement agreement, last March the Peruvian government adopted a resolution that includes the training of judges on gender and justice issues as part of their core curriculum. The resolution is yet to be implemented in accordance with the IACHR agreement. 

“The Peruvian criminal and court systems failed M.M.,” said María Ysabel Cedano, executive director at DEMUS. “We urge the government to hold the Judicial Academy (AMAG) to its promise of including gender and justice as part of the basic training for judges in its curriculum, plans and budgets in 2014, 2015 and beyond. In addition, we call on National Judicial Council to adopt the formal proposals by DEMUS on gender training received in the AMAG as part of the selection process, ratification and promotion of judges and magistrates.”

“Violence against women is a serious human rights abuse in Perú,” said Gabriela Filoni, litigator at CLADEM. “The government acknowledges this but it must hold health, criminal justice and legal professionals to a higher standard when women file complaints.”

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