DEMUS is a Peruvian feminist organization that confronts male chauvinism, misogyny, phobia of lesbians, racism and any and all forms of discrimination against and violation of, women’s rights. It does this through proposals for transformation of the intimate, economic, social and political relations, which question the limitations of democracy, law and culture, in order to affirm ourselves as persons owners of our bodies and our sexualities, for a life free of violence and discrimination.
Since its creation in 1987, DEMUS has made contributions towards the acknowledgement and exercise of women’s rights, and has helped in re-constituting and articulating the feminist movement in Peru. It works from a feminist, gender, human rights and intercultural perspective.
Likewise, it has been co-petitioner in several cases before the international human rights system, which constitute important precedents for the region and the world on abortion, violence and forced sterilization. It has generated an integral attention model for the cases of violence against women that was replicated by the State; it has placed issues in the State’s public agenda and in the public opinion, such as feminicide and sexual violence in armed conflict; it has advocated public policies related to violence against women and it has accompanied women from organizations of the urban-popular zones in the process of personal and political growth, among other initiatives.
In what context do we work?
In the midst of the international crisis, Peru is one of the countries with greater economic growth in the region; however, this situation has not improved the daily life of the persons and even less that of women.
In Peru, social inequality still prevails, in an economic, political, social and cultural context marked by a neo-liberalism adverse to development and democracy based on the respect for human rights. It is a country in which women, indigenous people, afro-Peruvians, poor people, persons with a non-hegemonic sexual identity or orientation and persons with handicaps do not have great possibilities of changing their future.
Peru, in spite of having a formally lay State, behaves like a confessional State, where the fundamentalist groups linked to the ecclesiastic hierarchy have a direct influence on the public policies.
Peru possesses a constitutional State by law, but it is a space where human rights are violated on a daily basis, while at the same time the governments obstruct justice and the redressing of the serious violations that occurred during the 80s and 90s.
Peru, in spite of having a formally democratic State, ignores the legitimacy of the social movements, specially the indigenous ones. The government is currently taking repression measures to protect the neo-liberal economic model, there by harming the enforcement of the native communities’ collective rights and the environmental right of the Peruvian society as a whole.
Where do we work?
DEMUS works in the capital of Peru, Lima, city where it seeks to articulate its strategies at the local, national and global level; and in Huancavelica, one of the poorest departments, which has been severely hit by the political violence endured during the 80s and 90s.
What is our mission?
DEMUS’ institutional mission is “To strengthen an alternative current for the defense and recognition of women’s human rights, in particular, the sexual rights and reproductive rights, procuring a new cultural paradigm of women and sexuality. To achieve this, it develops a role of pressure, vigilance and public advocacy so as to contribute towards the elimination of violence against women and all forms of discrimination based in the gender, class and ethnic/racial differences.
What are our purposes in the next 3 years?
The electoral context marks the political dynamics of the next 3 years in Peru. In 2010 there will be elections to renew the local and regional authorities and in 2011 to renew the President of the Republic and Congress.
In this context, DEMUS will place in the public and political debate its institutional agenda, with a view to “Contributing so that rural and urban women can access justice and redress in matters of sexual rights and reproductive rights in the framework of the human rights with a focus on gender and as the base of a democratic, lay and decentralized State”.
For this, it will focus its works on:
1. Contributing to the boost of the reform of the justice system so that it can respond to the interests of women regarding the issue of access to justice, removing discrimination from the legislation, doctrine, jurisprudence and the juridical
DEMUS advocates the justice system by litigating cases of sexual rights and reproductive rights at the national and international level, monitoring its performance through an observatory of verdicts, and strengthening the performance of the women judges so that they can become actresses of change within the system in which they work.
DEMUS advocates in the Legislative Power seeking normative changes to combat impunity and discrimination and in the Executive Power by promoting the implementation of policies related to the sexual rights and reproductive rights.
DEMUS reflects on women’s rights, generating arguments for its advocacy work as well as for the Peruvian feminist movement.
2. Contributing to the processes of vigilance and demand for the enforcement of public policies related to the redress processes for the victims of the political violence occurred during the 80s and 90s, oriented towards confronting violence against women and the one referred to mental health.
DEMUS promotes the social role of the women’s organizations from the urban-popular and rural zones, which it trains and strengthens in order to enable vigilance and advocacy regarding the public policies for redress and against violence.
DEMUS trains public officers and authorities, promoting the institutionalization of policies and practices in favor of women.
DEMUS reflects about the public policies, generating arguments for its advocacy work as well as for women’s movement.
3. Contributing to the generation of a public opinion favorable to the acknowledgement of women’s sexual rights and reproductive rights, which are considered as part of the circumstantial agenda.
DEMUS develops communications’ campaigns to enable sensitizing the public opinion around the sexual rights and reproductive rights it addresses, and advocating the public policies’ decision makers.
DEMUS advocates in the communications media, making public its performance through the “monitoring of the media” and of the analysis of the discourse they disseminate regarding women’s rights.
DEMUS places its rights’ agenda in the communications media and pronounces itself about the current circumstances from a feminist point of view.
What are our strategies?
- Defense of the emblematic cases at the national and international level.
- Development of the individual and collective capabilities for women from the urban popular and rural sectors.
- Political advocacy, through institutional lobbying and in alliance with the organizations of women from the urban-popular and rural sectors.
- Alliance with the female judges’ and civil society’s organizations.
- Generation of knowledge through research and publications.
- Communications’ campaigns at the local and national level.
- Strengthening of networks and alliances at the local, national and international level.
How do we work?
DEMUS is totally convinced that only an integral intervention can generate changes that go beyond the formal aspect and have a repercussion on the lives of each person. For each one of its actions and to the extent possible, DEMUS possesses lawyers, psychologists, social sciences’ workers and communicators.
Making up a single team, DEMUS develops the following lines of work:
Juridical Line, made up by lawyers that work from a feminist approach, critical of the law, denouncing the incoherence of the law and challenging it to respond to the strategic needs of women.
Psychological Line, made up by psychologists that from a psycho-dynamic, of community mental health and feminist approach, generates new models of subjective accompaniment in which the cultural peculiarities of women are incorporated.
Social Line, made up by sociologists and social workers who, from a feminist point of view, contribute to taking a critical look at the social reality and the social movements, as well as to strengthen the social and political role of women.
Communications Line, made up by female communicators that from a feminist approach assess the performance of the communications media and its impact on the public opinion, questioning the hegemonic models that prevail socially.