Who Is Oppressing the Revolutionary Women of Peru

Revolutionary Worker #1217, October 26, 2003, posted at rwor.org

One of the most heart-wrenching sections of the Commission report documents case after case of torture of women revolutionaries by the military and police. Dozens of painful personal testimonies describe sadistic methods of torture against women. The Commission report states that such methods included "insertion of foreign objects into the vagina or anus, combined with electrical shocks to the genitals or the breasts, rape of pregnant women and minors, and group rape." These practices were so common that the military had a term for raping women with the barrel of a rifle--"el largo" (the long one). The Commission concludes that sexual violence against women by the armed forces of the state was a "generalized practice that took on a systematic character connected to the repression of subversives in the provinces of Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Apurímac."

This extreme violence directed at women revolutionaries is an expression of the hatred that those in power have for the people who have risen up in the People's War. It reveals the perverse outlook and morality of those carrying out the counter-insurgency.

Predictably, given the overall nature of their report, the Commission also attempts to portray the PCP as being anti-women. They come up with 19 testimonies about purported abuses against women by armed insurgents. But many of these testimonies are about alleged abuses by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA--an armed movement not connected to the PCP). Most of the testimony relating to the PCP are second-hand accounts by those claiming to have heard about abuse of women by people in the revolution.

In a society where women have been so oppressed and downgraded for centuries, it's not surprising that backward thinking regarding women continues to exist even among some in the ranks of the revolution. But the Commission's claim that the PCP's policies have been oppressive to women is totally false and outrageous.

One of the things that really stands out about the People's War in Peru is how steadfastly the PCP has struggled against women's oppression and how it has led the masses to fight against every form of degradation faced by women in Peru. In the Base Areas organized under revolutionary authority, women have been empowered to own land so that they can be economically independent, to exercise their right to divorce, to stand up against abuse by their husbands and, most important, to have a say in how the revolution is carried forward. The unprecedented participation of women in this People's War--as fighters, political leaders, and military commanders on every level--is a testament to the way the PCP has fought for genuine women's liberation.