Marrying Your Rapist: Domesticated War Crimes in Ayacucho, Peru

TitleMarrying Your Rapist: Domesticated War Crimes in Ayacucho, Peru
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBoesten, Jelke
EditorPankhurst, Donna
Book TitleGendered Peace: Women's Struggles for Post-War Justice and Reconciliation
CityNew York

Until 1997, rapists who married their victims were exempted from prosecution in Peru. During the 20 year internal conflict between Shining Path and the counterinsurgency forces, some young women and their families called upon this law to “domesticate” the rape to which many were subjected by soldiers of the Peruvian army. The “promise to be married”, materialized in a piece of paper (a contract signed by a military superior, the perpetrator, the woman and her family), meant that sexual abuse would continue – although now with “consent” of the young woman. Although rape of the peasant population of Andean Peru and those suspected of terrorism was a systematic and strategic action encouraged from above, by incorporating such actions into existing normative and legal codes the possible sequels of such events were moderated, normalized, and domesticated. By examining testimonies of women who were promised to their rapists, the author argues in this chapter that sexual violence during political conflict is often framed by social codes and gender norms which make such violence acceptable, tolerated, and often justifiable both in war and peace. 

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