Peru’ s social situation is marked by great discontent among the population, due to several factors, in particular: the increasing citizen insecurity, due to the boost of common crimes.
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), 89.5% of the Peruvian population aged over 15 years old, perceives that it may be victim of a crime over the next twelve months. Against this dramatic situation, government bodies, such as police, the National Council of the Judiciary, the Judiciary Power and the National Penitentiary Institute, have shown themselves to be completely unable to guarantee security to citizens and respect of the law, either because of inefficiency, lack of resources and/or corruption.
This has led to the increasing demand by the majority of the population for a ‘strong hand policy’ (heavier penalties, more prisons, less prison benefits, reduction of the age for criminal responsibility, more policemen, reinstatement of death penalty, etc.), which the international experience has shown does not work, since it does not face the causes of problems. The low quality of education is another factor for discontent among the Peruvian population. The economic growth has not improved the quality of education, as proven by the PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment) tests (in language, mathematics and science) released by the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), which shows that Peru ranks last among all the countries (62 in all) that performed the last test in 2012.
The result of this situation has been the increasing switch of pupils belonging to the lower social-economic classes from public to private education. In fact, while in the 1990s, 85 per cent of the pupils of primary and secondary schools was enrolled in public schools, today the number has decreased to 75%, and to 50% in cities like Lima and Arequipa.
The presence in the country of extractive companies exploiting its natural resources is another reason for discontent among the Peruvian population. The issue is complicated because according to the Peruvian law, the State is the owner of the natural resources that are found both on the ground and in the underground, and the State is entitled to grant the right of exploitation of the resources to third parties. The exploitation of such resources generates impacts of different types. Among the main environmental impacts is the pollution of surface and ground waters, soil and air pollution, the degradation of the landscapes, deforestation and loss of the plant coverage, loss of the biodiversity, soil erosion, spills, damage to crops, food insecurity and noise pollution.
Among the socio-economic impacts, the most frequent are human rights violation, land dispossession, loss of livelihood and traditional knowledge, militarization and police repression, increase of crime and violence, and increased incidence of diseases. The discontent of the population against these impacts has generated social conflicts, which, according to the Office of Peruvian Ombudsman, left 90 dead and 2,442 injured in the last 5 years. What the population demands, among other things, is that its right to prior and informed consultation be respected, according to Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization. Peruvian people also demand that the local economy not be affected by the presence of the extractive companies and that pollution levels be reduced, as well as the gender-based violence rates.
The Peru Demographic and Health Survey 2014 pointed out that 72.4% of Peruvian women suffered at sometime some kind of violence by their husbands: 69.4% of Peruvian women suffered psychological violence, and 32.3% physical or sexual violence’. And according to the World Health Organization, Peru is in third place in the world in terms of the number of women who suffer sexual violence by their partners. Due to ‘machismo’, which is deeply rooted in the country, Peruvian society has generally been tolerant of gender violence, but in the second half of this year, Peruvians took to the streets en masse to reject violence against women, in what was seen as a major new step in awareness-raising in the country, through the #NiUnaMenos protest aimed at sensibilizing the population about violence against women and at pushing people to break the silence and take action. An initiative to promote a culture of peace and tolerance, saying no to violence.