By Janett Chavarry Garcia
PERU: This year, the Peruvian Parliament approved a controversial law that says people can have sexual intercourse with those as young as 14-years-old.
Some people think that this law is illegal because it could provoke more sexual attacks, a common practice which already happens in Peru on a daily basis and principally affects children and young people.
Before this law, a person who had sexual contact with people between 14 and 18 years old would have gone to jail for thirty years, guilty of a sexual violation.
This ruling tries to address the practical considerations of today’s realities that recognize the fact that more young people are having sexual relationships with men and women older than themselves.
Other arguments for the law say that in the highlands and jungle communities, couples are formed with the elder men and young women as a way of trying to maintain the balance between tribes. The change in the law addresses this reality and is a way to preserve these people’s integrity and their families.
This law tests young people’s ability to make decisions for themselves, along with, how far they’re willing to go with their sexual freedom. According to the parliamentarians who approved the law, a young person has the capacity to decide if he/she wants to be sexually active with other people.
It is thought that with the right education and instruction, because more of them now receive information about contraceptive methods and the consequences of bad sexual behavior, that they will make the right decisions.
Furthermore, in PerÃº, a young person who is sixteen-years-old can already get married with their parent’s permission.
In a final argument supporting the law, the government leaders expressed that in almost all the world a young person who wants to have sexual relations with other people isn’t judged or considered to be a criminal, and Peru should understand that.
Opposition to this law has been very hard in Peru. Some authority parties refused to recognize it, such as the Catholic and Evangelical churches and children’s rights organizations, until the President, Alan GarcÃa, promised to review it.
These people believe the law adversely affects young people who are at greatest risk, especially those who live on the streets and already suffer sexual violations due to being child prostitutes.
It’s necessary to say that in my country, every day, a child or young person between five and fifteen years old is raped.
Many of these rapes are committed by relatives or neighbors who are not always sent to jail. This law could provoke these people to force the children to have sexual relations with them. To make it worse, and what’s hidden in the law, is that these rapists can’t be reported to the police.
In Peru, more than fifty percent of sexual violation cases aren’t reported. This law will only increase this cruel statistic.
Another element to consider is the maturity of the young person. Peru is facing a hard battle to reduce the number of pregnancies, especially among young people.
The Health Department and some organizations distribute condoms and other contraceptives, as part of the overall sexual education campaigns. These preventive strategies can’t overcome the most important element in this debate — parents talking to their children about sex and impressing upon them the consequences they will suffer if they make a bad decision regarding their sexual behavior.
It’s logical to believe that if a young person doesn’t have the capacity to prevent a pregnancy, deciding to wait or use a contraceptive, chances are they don’t have a real idea of what it means to have a relationship with more responsibilities than they can handle.
As a woman, I believe a person should live each level of his life without pressures and without hurries. Sex is a very important part of a healthy person’s life but that person needs to be mature, in possession of the right information and advice and be conscientious of their long-term well-being.
They need to be able to enjoy activities that are age-appropriate and discover new experiences at the right time.
I think the Peruvian authorities should review young people’s real situations and consider what they absolutely need.
What do you think?
Learn more about Janett:
Janett ChÃ¡varry GarcÃa was born in Lima, Peru in 1977. It is where she still lives with her parents and three sisters in the same apartment near the city’s town square.
Janett has a degree in Communications from Lima University. These days, Janett studies the development of communications and mass media as it pertains to social issues.
As such, she has worked in human resources, television and has participated in public enterprise projects.
When Janett is not writing for Latina Lista, she loves to spend her free time either curled up with a good book of fiction and her dogs or working in a little exercise by playing volleyball or cycling around Lima.