While child sexual abuse (CSA) often goes unreported and undercounted, Peru’s National Institute for Statistics and Informatics registered 6,263 cases of sexual violence against persons under age 18 in FY 2021, up by 53 percent compared to 2015. Between FY 2015 and FY 2021, Peru recorded 34,840 cases of sexual violence against children, with reported cases growing at an average rate of 7.7 percent per year over that time period. Peru scored in the bottom quartile (46th out of 60) of the 2022 Out of the Shadows Index. Girls account for more than 94 percent of reported victims, and 99 percent of CSA perpetrators in Peru are men, with 20 percent of offenders living in the same house as their victims.
Peru’s constitution establishes the responsibility of the state for defending aspects of children’s life such as mental and physical integrity, development, and well-being, while the country’s criminal code covers punishment for child abuse, child pornography, and child sexual exploitation. Relevant legal efforts include Law No. 27337 (2000), which renewed the Code of Children and Adolescents to align with the U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child and strengthened the legal framework for children’s development, including protection; Law No. 30362 (2015), which mandated government support for the country’s now-concluded National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents, 2012-2021; and Legislative Decree No. 1377 (2013), which strengthened children’s access to comprehensive protection, such as by guarding their identity in cases of violence. The government has renewed efforts to prevent and respond to CSA as part of the National Multisectoral Policy for Girls, Boys, and Adolescents by 2030 (PNMNNA), a national-level strategic plan. Priority Objective 3 (of five) from the plan aims “to lower the risk of neglect or lack of protection for girls, boys, and adolescents” and assigns responsibilities to four key institutions for carrying out that goal: the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP), the Ministry of Education (MINEDU), the Ministry of Health (MINSA), and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (MINJUSDH). Other relevant government entities with lesser roles include the Ministry of Interior, the Public Ministry, and the Judiciary, among others.
The PNMNNA forms a central component of Peru’s national policy, and CSA is explicitly referenced by several of the policy’s component areas, including building family capacity (Guideline 3.01), building capacity to respond to violence against children (3.02), increasing knowledge about sexuality and its relationship to sexual violence in childhood (Guideline 3.03), and increasing support for victims of violence against children, trafficking, and sexual exploitation (Guideline 3.04). It accompanies these priorities with specific programming and activities as well as clear designation of the responsible government entities. (See Figure 1.) However, the plan itself does not include financial details in support of the policy, instead charging the relevant government bodies with the policy’s fulfillment through existing institutional budgets, “without demanding additional resources from the Public Treasury.”
CSA-Relevant Guidelines and Responsible Ministries within the PNMNNA
Data Source: PNMNNA.
MIMP bears responsibility for protecting vulnerable populations within Peru, including children, and the majority of its actions fall within two departmental units that are relevant to preventing and responding to violence against children: (1) the National Program for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Family Members (AURORA); and (2) the National Comprehensive Program for Family Welfare (INABIF). AURORA develops Peru’s programming for preventing violence against “women and family group members” and providing specialized care for those affected by sexual and other forms of violence. The second unit, INABIF, supports vulnerable families, emphasizing children, adolescents, and older adults. Overall, the ministry’s budget has fluctuated in recent years, growing by just 7.1 percent between FY 2019 and FY 2023, including reaching a five-year low of PEN 681.7 million in FY 2022.
MIMP’s budget specifies numerous line items over this time period that are relevant to CSA, including protective services for children in various situations of vulnerability, prevention services for family violence, programs to train women and men to respond to situations of violence, and even a line item devoted to comprehensive care for perpetrators of violence. (See Figure 2.) One of the largest allocations in most years goes to “Protective services for girls, boys, and adolescents at risk or without family protection” (PEN 220.8 million in FY 2022), while other major line items most specific to children include “Attention services for people affected by family violence” (PEN 219.9 million) and “Protective services for girls, boys, and adolescents without family protection in residential care centers” (PEN 85.6 million in FY 2022). CSA, however, is not specified in any of the ministry’s line items, obscuring the true scope of contributions to the issue.
Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations Budget Allocations
Other ministries explicitly highlighted in the PNMNNA provide very limited budgetary information that confirms their contributions to addressing CSA. The Ministry of Education (MINEDU) has only two line items in annual budgets between FY 2019 and FY 2023 that are clearly relevant to CSA or other violence against children, both of which appear in only one year. (See Figure 3.) For example, the FY 2023 budget shows an allocation of PEN 0.8 million for a program to provide “Learning experience for children to develop their skills to prevent sexual violence,” while the FY 2020 budget includes a one-time allocation of PEN 37.3 million for “Violence prevention services for parents and students.” Likewise, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) specifies funding in FY 2023 for “Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral treatment for girls, boys, and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse” (PEN 3.6 million) and “Behavioral psychotherapeutic treatments focused on and directed towards children who are victims of child abuse” (PEN 8.4 million), as well as a comparatively small contribution to “National action against family and sexual violence.” Finally, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (MINJUSDH) specifies allocations for FY 2021 through FY 2023 of more than PEN 33 million for “Permanent protection measures for victims of violence,” specifically women, and FY 2020 shows a one-time contribution of PEN 15.0 million for “Police and legal protection and support services for female victims of violence” as well as other members of the family.
Without more consistent, comprehensive data on these entities’ contributions, it is difficult to grasp the scope of their relevance to Peru’s efforts to combat CSA. There are other government entities beyond the PNMNNA that play a role in the government’s response to CSA—such as the Ministry of Interior, the Public Ministry, and the Judiciary—but the budgets for those entities offer even less clarity about the scope of their contributions to the issue and are therefore not analyzed in detail here.
Assorted CSA-Relevant Allocations from Other Ministries Mentioned in the PNMNNA
Considering the prevalence of, and trends related to, CSA, Peru has a clear imperative to invest sizably in prevention and response efforts. In many ways, the PNMNNA, the latest iteration of Peru’s national strategy to address the comprehensive development and protection of children, delivers clarity and focus on CSA, including by designating relevant ministries to manage parts of the country’s response. However, it lacks specific guidance for mobilizing budgetary resources and instead specifies for its goals to be realized within existing budgetary allocations. MIMP’s primary role in child protection and responding to gender-based violence is clear, but this key institution has had a fairly stagnant budget over recent years—growing by just 7.1 percent between FY 2019 and FY 2023, insufficient to keep up with inflation, let alone rising reported rates of CSA.
Girls account for more than 94 percent of reported victims, and 99 percent of CSA perpetrators in Peru are men, with 20 percent of offenders living in the same house as their victims.
The budgets of other ministries are illuminating insofar as they show varied contributions to different aspects of addressing CSA, such as the Ministry of Education providing “Violence prevention services for parents and students” and the Ministry of Health providing “trauma-focused” behavioral treatment for survivors of CSA, but the inconsistent and fluctuating nature of these allocations does not help clarify the government’s strategy to address CSA through the lens of budgetary commitments. Indeed, numerous relevant entities essentially offer no systematic illustration of their contributions to the issue in national budget documents. While no small task, mapping budgetary allocations to addressing CSA across government in parallel to the PNMNNA would help highlight veritable action on CSA in Peru, as well as illuminate where gaps persist.