LIMA – Soldiers accused of gang-raping peasant women during the Peruvian government’s 1980-2000 conflict with Shining Path guerrillas went on trial on Friday for crimes against humanity.
The case, the first of its kind in Peru, centers on sexual assaults committed 32 years ago in the central provinces of Manta and Vilca.
The prosecution is seeking prison terms of up to 18 years for each defendant, along with restitution payments ranging from 100,000 soles ($30,000) to 1 million soles ($305,000).
Members of human rights organizations held a rally in front of the court building in Lima to demand a speedy and transparent trial.
Sexual violence “constituted a crime against humanity in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and was systematic and generalized,” Maria Ysabel Cedano, a representative of the women’s rights group Demus, told EFE.
She said there were more than 5,000 documented cases of sexual violence during the conflict, including 147 instances where the rapes led to pregnancies.
“Today is a historic day,” victims’ attorney Carlos Rivera said to EFE.
The investigation leading to the indictment of the soldiers began in 2004 and was based on the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that “soldiers were accustomed to invading communities and raping women in their homes or at the military base.”
Roughly 69,000 Peruvians were killed in the war between the government and the Maoist-inspired Shining Path, according to the commission’s report, which blamed the rebels for the majority of the deaths.