On October 11, 2021, the Coalition against Sexual Violence against girls and adolescents in Bolivia, comprised of Equality Now, The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights, Bolivia (CLADEM-Bolivia), The Legal Office of Women (La Oficina Jurídica de la Mujer), The Human Rights Community, and Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza from Breeze of Hope, presented a report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) as part of its third periodic review of Bolivia.
This joint submission detailed our concerns with regard to laws related to rape and other forms of sexual violence and procedures and practices which effectively deny access to justice for survivors of sexual violence. The information in the submission was based on the recommendations of the recent Equality Now report, Failure to Protect: how discriminatory laws and practices against sexual violence are harming women, girls, and adolescents in the Americas, and input from experts from our partner organizations in Bolivia.
On November 23, 2021, we also participated, together with other Bolivian civil society coalitions, in the virtual meeting with members of the CAT on behalf of the coalition, and in our presentation, we were able to emphasize our recommendations, which were accepted and incorporated in the Final observations of the CAT on the third periodic report of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
The CAT, concerned about the increase in femicides and sexual violence against women, children, and adolescents, as well as high levels of impunity – because proper investigation and punishment of these kinds of crimes is not guaranteed – made the following recommendations to the Plurinational State of Bolivia in its third periodic report:
- the review criminal legislation to eliminate the crime of estupro and amend the crime of rape to be based on lack of consent rather than force, as well as adding appropriate presumptions of consent;
- guarantee essential services to victims of gender-based violence to they receive the medical, psychological and legal support needed to ensure holistic reparation; as well as the creation of specialized tribunals and mandatory training for justice officials and healthcare workers regarding the prosecution of cases of sexual and gender-based violence.
- the prevention and eradication of marriage, early unions, and pregnancy in girls and adolescents, especially in poor and rural areas;
- legal, safe, and effective access to interruption of forced pregnancies; and
- up to date statistics and data, broken down by age, ethnic origin or nationality of the victims, as well as showing the number of reports, investigations, trials, convictions, and sentences for gender-based violence.
A group of Bolivian organizations, as well as Equality Now, issued a statement for Human Rights Day urging the State of Bolivia to prioritize the recommendations from the CAT. Read the statement in Spanish here: