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This article builds on long-term research looking at violence against women in both war and peace, and recently gathered data regarding persistent failure to use policy as a tool to reduce such violence in Peru. The research shows that impunity and tolerance for violence against women persists despite a state that has actively intervened to eradicate such violence for some twenty years. Including the state as perpetrator of violence in the analysis of impunity helps understand the failure of policy and legislation. Moreover, the notion of patriarchy allows us to look at a historically shaped male-centered and sexist organization of state and society, and helps understand the ambiguities in contemporary policy and legislation.
Violence against women is the cruelest manifestation of gender-based discrimination and inequality, and despite numerous international agreements to eradicate it, the trend has continued, ever more bloodily, fueled by a patriarchal society in which women are the undervalued sex.
“The continuation of violence against women in the 21st century is inconceivable and unacceptable,” says Célia Leão, a state deputy from São Paulo, Brazil, and a key member of the first Parliamentary Investigation Commission on violence against women in that state in the mid-1990s.
One of society’s greatest challenges is for violence against women to be considered a human rights violation.