English

We’re fighting for justice for Brisa and other women and girls who have been sexually abused and we need your help!

When Brisa was 15 years old, an adult cousin came to live with her and her family and immediately began to isolate her. He gradually started sexually molesting her, and once Brisa was completely isolated, he began raping her. To keep Brisa silent, he blamed her for the abuse, beat her, threatened to rape her sisters and tortured her beloved dog and other pets while making her watch. Brisa attempted suicide twice and did everything she could to push her family away in fear that her aggressor would hurt them. Finally, after eight months, Brisa’s family discovered the abuse and reported it to the police. But Brisa’s nightmare didn’t end there.

She was re-victimized by medical personnel during her numerous physical exams, by the prosecutor during the  investigation, and by judges who questioned her about her sexual history during the trial. In one instance, a judge even implied that she could not have been raped because she had not screamed! Although Brisa had originally brought a case against her cousin for rape, the judge used his discretion to charge him with estupro -- damaging legislation that imposes lesser penalties than for statutory rape. Estupro presumes consent on a survivor’s part and paints girls as “seductresses” who convince adults to have sex with them. Not obtaining justice in Bolivia, Brisa got her law degree and took her case all the way to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. However, fifteen years after she first reported the abuse, Brisa’s abuser has still not been brought to justice.

Brisa’s story is sadly not unique. Bolivia continues to fail its women and girls by allowing impunity for sexual offenses, especially when committed against adolescent girls. The country has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against women and children in all of South America, but one of the lowest reporting rates. And like victims worldwide, women and girls in Bolivia face incredible obstacles in seeking justice. Recent cases include:

  • “Elena” an eleven-year old girl was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend and waited over three years to have a hearing. Due to innumerous delays and constant re-victimization, Elena and her family have lost faith in the justice system.
  • Ten-year old “Esperanza” was sexually abused by three of her brothers– though the three have been detained, none have been tried and convicted because prison officials and police are unwilling to cooperate with the justice system.
  • “Diana” reported being sexually abused by her teacher. On the day of his trial, 15 other children came forward to report that they had also been subjected to similar abuse. The teacher failed to appear at trial and presumably fled the country. Since Bolivia does not have procedures to capture escaped defendants and convicts,it is unlikely that the teacher will be punished.

These are only three examples of this enormous problem. According to a report presented by Bolivia’s Ombudsman, in the first half of 2015 alone, there were 569 reported cases of sexual violence against minors; 94% of them were against young or adolescent girls. This directly contradicts Bolivia’s many international commitments to ensure women and girls are free from sexual violence, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and regional commitments such as the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (“Convention of Belem do Para”).

But Brisa did not give up! To help ensure other children did not have to endure what she experienced, she founded A Breeze of Hope (Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza) in Bolivia when she was only 17. A Breeze of Hope provides young survivors of sexual violence with holistic care, including legal, mental and social services. To date, A Breeze of Hope has provided services to over 1,550 child survivors and has a conviction rate of 95%. That’s the good news. The bad news is that A Breeze of Hope continues to see cases of sexual abuse of very young children. Equality Now has joined with Brisa, A Breeze of Hope, the Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation Clinic at Rutgers Law School and the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed to pursue litigation and advocacy in support of Bolivia’s girls. In March 2017, we held a thematic hearing on sexual abuse with the Government of Bolivia at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. At that public hearing, Bolivia promised to work with us to amend its penal code. Now we’re making sure that Bolivia follows through on its promises and obligations to its women and girls.

Right now the government is reforming its rape and sexual abuse laws. Help us ensure that they are in line with Bolivia’s international commitments to protect women and girls from sexual violence! Please join Equality Now and our partners in calling on Bolivia to:

  • Define rape as based on lack of consent and including all forms of non-consensual penetration;
  • Eliminate the requirement that survivors prove “intimidation, physical violence, or psychological violence”;
  • Apply international and regional human rights standards on consent;
  • Repeal the estupro provision, legislation which is used to allow rapists to avoid conviction in cases where the victim is 14-17 years old; and
  • Provide clear guidelines on what acts constitute sexual abuse.

Targets:

Pablo Menacho Diederich, Attorney General of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
Av. Martín Cárdenas #109, El Alto, Bolivia
pmenacho@procuraduria.gob.bo
(591) 2173900

H.E. Diego Pary, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States for the Plurinational State of Bolivia
1710 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036
bolivia@bolivia-oea.org
(202) 785-0218

Diego Ernesto Jiménez Guachalla, Vice Minister of Justice and Fundamental Rights
Avenida 16 de julio N°1769, La Paz, Bolivia
minjusticia@justicia.gob.bo
(591) 2158900

Country: 
All letters: 
2500
Type of action: 
Hero Title: 
Help stop child sexual abuse in Bolivia!
Hero image: 
Letter Body: 

Dear …,

I am concerned about the number of children and adolescents who are victims of sexual abuse in Bolivia and never see justice. According to a report from Bolivia’s Ombudsman, in the first half of 2015 alone, there were 569 reported cases of sexual violence against minors – 94% of them were against young or adolescent girls.

Bolivia has a real opportunity to begin to meet its obligations to young and adolescent girls by making sure that its laws on rape and sexual abuse are in line with regional and international legal standards. Government representatives welcomed working with civil society and survivors of sexual violence by attending a Thematic Hearing on sexual violence against adolescents in Bolivia at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but it must now deliver on its good faith.

Please take immediate action to ensure that your Government reforms its penal code so that  Bolivia’s rape and sexual abuse laws  align with regional and international standards and reflect Bolivia’s human rights commitments. Young girls and adolescents in Bolivia have the right to live a life free of violence and the Government has the obligation to protect them and to prosecute their perpetrators.
Thank you for your urgent attention.

Kind regards,

Salsa Id: 
25000
Action Date: 
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Action Status: 
Letters Sent (Auto): 
2343
All Letters Sent (Auto): 
2343

We’re fighting for justice for Brisa and other women and girls who have been sexually abused and we need your help!

When Brisa was 15 years old, an adult cousin came to live with her and her family and immediately began to isolate her. He gradually started sexually molesting her, and once Brisa was completely isolated, he began raping her. To keep Brisa silent, he blamed her for the abuse, beat her, threatened to rape her sisters and tortured her beloved dog and other pets while making her watch. Brisa attempted suicide twice and did everything she could to push her family away in fear that her aggressor would hurt them. Finally, after eight months, Brisa’s family discovered the abuse and reported it to the police. But Brisa’s nightmare didn’t end there.

She was re-victimized by medical personnel during her numerous physical exams, by the prosecutor during the  investigation, and by judges who questioned her about her sexual history during the trial. In one instance, a judge even implied that she could not have been raped because she had not screamed! Although Brisa had originally brought a case against her cousin for rape, the judge used his discretion to charge him with estupro -- damaging legislation that imposes lesser penalties than for statutory rape. Estupro presumes consent on a survivor’s part and paints girls as “seductresses” who convince adults to have sex with them. Not obtaining justice in Bolivia, Brisa got her law degree and took her case all the way to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. However, fifteen years after she first reported the abuse, Brisa’s abuser has still not been brought to justice.

Brisa’s story is sadly not unique. Bolivia continues to fail its women and girls by allowing impunity for sexual offenses, especially when committed against adolescent girls. The country has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against women and children in all of South America, but one of the lowest reporting rates. And like victims worldwide, women and girls in Bolivia face incredible obstacles in seeking justice. Recent cases include:

  • “Elena” an eleven-year old girl was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend and waited over three years to have a hearing. Due to innumerous delays and constant re-victimization, Elena and her family have lost faith in the justice system.
  • Ten-year old “Esperanza” was sexually abused by three of her brothers– though the three have been detained, none have been tried and convicted because prison officials and police are unwilling to cooperate with the justice system.
  • “Diana” reported being sexually abused by her teacher. On the day of his trial, 15 other children came forward to report that they had also been subjected to similar abuse. The teacher failed to appear at trial and presumably fled the country. Since Bolivia does not have procedures to capture escaped defendants and convicts,it is unlikely that the teacher will be punished.

These are only three examples of this enormous problem. According to a report presented by Bolivia’s Ombudsman, in the first half of 2015 alone, there were 569 reported cases of sexual violence against minors; 94% of them were against young or adolescent girls. This directly contradicts Bolivia’s many international commitments to ensure women and girls are free from sexual violence, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and regional commitments such as the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (“Convention of Belem do Para”).

But Brisa did not give up! To help ensure other children did not have to endure what she experienced, she founded A Breeze of Hope (Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza) in Bolivia when she was only 17. A Breeze of Hope provides young survivors of sexual violence with holistic care, including legal, mental and social services. To date, A Breeze of Hope has provided services to over 1,550 child survivors and has a conviction rate of 95%. That’s the good news. The bad news is that A Breeze of Hope continues to see cases of sexual abuse of very young children. Equality Now has joined with Brisa, A Breeze of Hope, the Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation Clinic at Rutgers Law School and the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed to pursue litigation and advocacy in support of Bolivia’s girls. In March 2017, we held a thematic hearing on sexual abuse with the Government of Bolivia at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. At that public hearing, Bolivia promised to work with us to amend its penal code. Now we’re making sure that Bolivia follows through on its promises and obligations to its women and girls.

Right now the government is reforming its rape and sexual abuse laws. Help us ensure that they are in line with Bolivia’s international commitments to protect women and girls from sexual violence! Please join Equality Now and our partners in calling on Bolivia to:

  • Define rape as based on lack of consent and including all forms of non-consensual penetration;
  • Eliminate the requirement that survivors prove “intimidation, physical violence, or psychological violence”;
  • Apply international and regional human rights standards on consent;
  • Repeal the estupro provision, legislation which is used to allow rapists to avoid conviction in cases where the victim is 14-17 years old; and
  • Provide clear guidelines on what acts constitute sexual abuse.

Targets:

Pablo Menacho Diederich, Attorney General of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
Av. Martín Cárdenas #109, El Alto, Bolivia
pmenacho@procuraduria.gob.bo
(591) 2173900

H.E. Diego Pary, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States for the Plurinational State of Bolivia
1710 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036
bolivia@bolivia-oea.org
(202) 785-0218

Diego Ernesto Jiménez Guachalla, Vice Minister of Justice and Fundamental Rights
Avenida 16 de julio N°1769, La Paz, Bolivia
minjusticia@justicia.gob.bo
(591) 2158900

Dear …,

I am concerned about the number of children and adolescents who are victims of sexual abuse in Bolivia and never see justice. According to a report from Bolivia’s Ombudsman, in the first half of 2015 alone, there were 569 reported cases of sexual violence against minors – 94% of them were against young or adolescent girls.

Bolivia has a real opportunity to begin to meet its obligations to young and adolescent girls by making sure that its laws on rape and sexual abuse are in line with regional and international legal standards. Government representatives welcomed working with civil society and survivors of sexual violence by attending a Thematic Hearing on sexual violence against adolescents in Bolivia at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but it must now deliver on its good faith.

Please take immediate action to ensure that your Government reforms its penal code so that  Bolivia’s rape and sexual abuse laws  align with regional and international standards and reflect Bolivia’s human rights commitments. Young girls and adolescents in Bolivia have the right to live a life free of violence and the Government has the obligation to protect them and to prosecute their perpetrators.
Thank you for your urgent attention.

Kind regards,

TAKE ACTION

0%
2343 of 2500 letters sent