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Women Police Officers in Peru Victims of Sexist Backlash

In 1998, Lima, Peru replaced the majority of its male traffic officers with female officers, after a study determined that they would be less corrupt than male transit officers who were notorious in Lima for corruption and bribery. The city of Lima took prompt action and now has a transit police force composed of 73% women. However, in the last 18 months, women officers have been assaulted, run over, and dragged through the streets by angry male drivers who apparently didn’t like being pulled over by an incorruptible female officer. Of the 137 abuse cases reported in 2002, women officers were the victims in 90% of the cases, although they are only 73% of the force. Peruvian women’s rights groups have attributed the violence to a macho backlash. Ana Maria Yanez, from the women’s group Manuela Ramos says that the backlash is a reflection of the low status given to women in Peru. “If men beat their wives at home – or don’t let them work or keep them from voicing their opinion – it only makes sense that a man, infuriated by a traffic ticket, will try to run a policewoman down with his car,” she said. Unfortunately, the abusive male drivers have generally not been punished because the judge’s rule that they haven’t wounded the officers enough to warrant jail time. The most recent case may change that. In May 2002, Officer Anamelba Mejia was dragged 20 yards by a minibus, and was then struck by another vehicle that fled the scene. The police are charging the driver who dragged her with attempted murder in the hopes of deterring future abuse by male drivers. Officer Mejia said of the male drivers, “They see us as enemies, not just for being women, but for doing the right thing.”

Sources:

Associated Press; 7/1/02