Domestic Violence in Andean Communities of Peru
Despite all these efforts the aim of addressing women's human rights in the international agenda has not been free of controversy and debates. This paper acknowledges these debates but is not concerned with questioning the principle of a life free of violence as a valid aspiration for all the women in the world but rather with the way that this issue is addressed and tackled. There is a 'global' circulation of 'recipes' that are going to influence particularly the use of the formal legal system (or state legal system) and are based on the assumption that in the Third World the state's agencies can be held accountable to perform certain roles, regardless of the political, cultural and economic conditions of these countries. This became evident when analysing multicultural realities of countries like Peru. This paper focuses its attention on the Andean communities from the Department of Cusco (South Andes) where to live free of violence is a valid women's aspiration, however, the way this should be achieved does not necessarily coincide with the mainstream position oriented by the feminist campaigns.
Keywords: Andean, Peru, Human Rights, Domestic Violence, Gender, Women, Feminist, Patriarchy, United Nations, International Campaign.
This is a Refereed article published on 21 June 2001.
Citation: Estremadoyro J, 'Domestic Violence in Andean Communities of Peru', 2001 (1) Law, Social Justice and Global Development (LGD). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/global/issue/2001-1/estremadoyro.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/lgd/2001_1/estremadoyro/>
From a feminist analysis domestic violence has been considered the most pervasive expression of patriarchy. In a male dominated social order, violence within intimate relationships is a way of social control over women, a powerful means to keep women in their place, that is, subordinate to and dependent on men (Bograd, 1988, p.14, Dobash and Dobash, 1979, Dwyer et al, 1996, p.72).
In 1979 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Peru subscribed to it in 1983. This was considered a great advance for the recognition of women's rights. This important international treaty, however, did not make explicit reference to gender violence.
At the end of the 1980s started an international campaign by the feminist movement for the recognition of all violence against women as human rights violations. It had as an objective to take this proposal to the 1993 United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (Friedman, 1995, p.18-25). The campaign sought to call international attention to the gravity of gender violence that although committed by private individuals should not be tolerated and ignored as an issue of human rights (Charlesworth et al, 1991).
In this global campaign for women's human rights, the dichotomy private/public is stretched to the limit comparing the violence against women with other forms of human rights violation in which traditionally the state has been the infractor. It is also suggested that the state is responsible for the non-prosecution of the cases of gender violence, consequently, if it fails it is in a way, an accomplice (Romany, 1994 ).
The international campaign for women's human rights ('a global coalition of 900 women's organisations', British Council 1999, p.3) managed to include the issue on the international agenda. In 1992, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against women (CEDAW, monitoring the Convention) adopted the general recommendation No.19 formally included the subject of gender violence within the framework of the Convention. The 1993 Conference of Human Rights in Vienna took partially into consideration the proposal of the women's lobby and in the 'Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action' called upon the General Assembly to adopt a 'Declaration on the elimination of Violence against Women'. This Declaration was adopted in December 1993 becoming the first international human rights document addressing exclusively the issue. From 1994 a UN 'Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences' has been responsible for reporting the problem at worldwide levels. Women met at the fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing promoting a 'Platform for Action'. Within the 12 'critical areas of concern' it includes 'violence against women', urging the government to 'take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate' the problem'. In October 1991 the General Assembly adopted an 'Optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women' establishing two procedures: firstly, a 'communication procedure' allowing individuals or groups of women to submit claims of violations of rights protected under the Convention, and secondly, an 'inquiry procedure' which enables the CEDAW to initiate investigation into any country -that has signed both the Convention and the Protocol- suspected of 'grave or systematic' violations of women's rights. The Protocol entered into force in December 2000. Peru has ratified it on April 2001.
In these international actions the lobby of Latin American feminists has played a leading role (Culliton 1994, p.197). At the level of the Inter American System, one of the results of the South American feminist campaigns was a resolution of November 1990 within the 25th Assembly of the Women's Inter American Commission (Organisation of American States) urging the governments the elaboration of a 'Treaty to prevent, sanction and eradicate the violence against women'. This document was adopted in 1994 by the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States and by now has been ratified by most of the countries of the region. Peru ratified it in 1996. This document has strongly influenced the policy and legal reforms in the country. It provided a comprehensive definition of fundamental rights affected by acts of violence against women and expressly condemned them as violations of human rights.
Despite all these efforts the aim of addressing women's human rights in the international agenda has not been free of controversy and debates. There is a general critique to the agenda of the human rights for holding a unique set of fundamental rights applicable for all human beings in the world irrespective of their cultural, social, economic or political differences. There are another set of critiques more specific to the feminist political theory that question the notion of an 'essential' woman as a pre-given unique category that does not correspond to the diversity of experiences of women around the world and the other categories of oppression that intersect in their lives (race, ethnicity, social status).
This paper acknowledges these debates but is not concerned with questioning the principle of a life free of violence as a valid aspiration for all the women in the world but rather with the way that this issue is addressed and tackled. There is a 'global' circulation of 'recipes' that are going to influence particularly the use of the formal legal system (or state legal system) and are based on the assumption that in the Third World the state's agencies can be held accountable to perform certain roles, regardless of the political, cultural and economic conditions of these countries. This became evident when analysing multicultural realities of countries like Peru.
This paper focuses its attention on the Andean communities from the Department of Cusco (South Andes) where to live free of violence is a valid women's aspiration, however, the way this should be achieved does not necessarily coincide with the mainstream position oriented by the feminist campaigns.
The issue of women's human rights is the end of the chain of a long struggle to address domestic violence in the state agenda. Feminists in Peru as elsewhere, have seen the law as a means through which to improve women's position in society. They have tackled a number of areas but have particularly concentrated on violence. They have been instrumental in the introduction of new legal measures to tackle domestic violence. This task has not been an easy one. Historically, the law has been used to regulate patriarchy and violence has been legitimated to a large extent in the law. Until 1936, with the enactment of a new Civil Code, the law supported the predominant position of husbands over wives and children and recognised the 'right of correction' in case of disobedience. This 'correction' included physical punishment. Consequently, the domestic violence was a constituent element of marriage, condemned only in extreme circumstances, allowing the separation of the spouses on the ground of 'extreme cruelty' (sevicia).
At the level of the criminal jurisdiction, however, offences (faults ) and criminal offences related to physical injuries were prosecuted, independent of the relationship between aggressor and victim. In theory, a man who injured his wife could be punished. In practice, the notion of 'legitimate' violence exercised by the husband permeated the criteria adopted by legal representatives who obstructed and discouraged women's complaints against their husbands. By analogy, women who were not legally married suffered the same discrimination.
In 1979, women achieved legal equality in Peru. Gender-neutral provisions replaced discriminatory family regulations. However, the understanding of what is a 'family' in legal terms remains deeply male and urban. Additionally, domestic violence remained an insufficient ground to apply for divorce if aggravated circumstances such as 'cruelty' and repetition' could not be legally proved, thus some violence performed by husbands was still legitimate.
In 1987 the first Women's Police Station, exclusively handling complaints of domestic violence commenced operation in the city of Lima. The level of complaints about domestic violence showed that a good number of women would opt for the legal system if this offered a more appropriate means of intervention. The first women's police station defined itself as specialised place for the reception of domestic violence cases, despite that the only legal support they had was the ordinary criminal procedures.
The first women's police station positively influenced that from the beginning of the 1990s, domestic violence entered into public debate. In 1991 the Criminal Code included rape within the marriage as a criminal offence. In January 1993 the ground of 'extreme cruelty' as ground for divorce and separation of the spouses was changed to 'physical and psychological violence'.
In December 1993, the first 'Law on Family Violence' (No.26260) was enacted. This original law has been modified by a law in March 1997 (No.26763) a 'Reglamento' on (rules of functioning) on the Law on Domestic Violence in February 1998. In July 2000 another 'modificatory law', No.27308. The objectives of these laws have been two fold. Firstly, they are public declarations condemning domestic violence and they establish the state commitment to work toward the eradication of domestic violence. Secondly, they established 'protective measures', for the protection of the victims both as an independent procedure initiated before the civil judges and as measures to be taken within the criminal procedures related to domestic violence.
The reason for all of these changes is that these laws have been tested by trial and error. The law 26260 of December 1993 was not clear in its procedures and after one year the only actions impulsed were those by the feminist NGOs. Additionally, despite that fact that most of the incidents of domestic violence were processed as 'faults against the Person' (offences by physical injuries) and processed before judges of the peace, the law not even mention these magistrates.
The law 26763 of 1997 endorsed the newly appointed Family judges and prosecutors (instead of the civil judges and prosecutors) with the procedures related to 'protective measures'. It also made the newly created Ministry for Women and Human Development responsible for the development of public policy regarding the problem. Additionally, it entitled the judges of the Peace letrados (professionals) to decide over 'protective measures' in the process of their competence (offences). The Reglamento of February 1998 complicated the situation stating that all the criminal cases had also to be sent to the Family prosecutors. This has resulted in the police cases not being sent –as they should be- directly to the judges, but being sent first to the prosecutors of Family, thus creating a serious delay and backlog of cases. Once there the prosecutors had –anyway- to apply for the family judges authorisation to decide over protective measures.
The 'protective measures' have proved to be more declarative than protective. The time elapsing in front of prosecutors and judges could be months. The modifications of July 2000 (Law No.27308) amended partially this problem in the process before the prosecutors stating that they simply have to communicate the decided measures to the judge.
These legal reforms are rooted in a legal structure that is deeply urban, excluding the reality and resources available in rural areas, such as the no letrado judges of the peace, the only judicial representative feasible of being reached for a large number of Peruvian women. The 1996 Reglamento mentions that the judges of the Peace no letrado could intervene when there were no professional judges of the peace available in the area, however, there is not a correlative dependence between these two kinds of magistrate and this was never implemented.
The law of March 1997 put an emphasis on conciliation in domestic violence cases when it stated that the conciliatory agreement reached in front of the Family prosecutors was considered as a final judicial judgement or sentence. This tendency was reinforced by the enactment of the 'Law of Conciliation' (No.26872, November 1997) that established as an obligatory step (before any other procedure could take place) to seek for the conciliation, including in cases of 'family violence' (article 9). This motivated a great debate about an already questionable subject: the possibility of conciliation in any kind of violent relationship since it is not possible to think in equality between the parties when one of them is already suffering coercion in hands of the other. This was later modified in January 2001 by Law No.27398 that forbids conciliation in cases of family violence.
In the Andean communities of Peru, however, to conciliate is not a solution that can be disregarded since women consider this as an aspiration even in cases of domestic violence.
3. Andean Communities
From a feminist perspective, marital violence is an expression of gender hierarchy. Anthropologists add that the problem is found world-wide although the incidence and severity vary (Brown, 1992). These studies support feminist claims in the sense that there is less violence in societies where women perform a major 'contribution to subsistence', consequently increasing women's value in society. Andean studies, however, were concentrated on the Andean concept of 'complementarity' between couples (qhariwarmi or chachawarmi the Quechua and Aymara words) that:
'....appeared able to recall and explain the marked division of tasks between sexes in Andean communities; the strong ideology of the couple as elemental social units, insoluble, and relatively isolated within the extended family, the ayllu and the local community; and the execution of the economic strategies based in the tight co-ordination between husband and wife and the differentiated contribution of both spouses' (Anderson, 1991 , p.30).
In the last decade there has been an effort to move forward from this approach when analysing gender in Andean culture looking at other sources of gender identities and hiearchisation. Studies such as those from Cadena (1991) and the compilation of Arnold (1997) are examples of this new trend. Despite these efforts, domestic violence is still a quite unexplored subject in Andean studies.
The research is based on eight months fieldwork in the department of Cusco (January - August 1997), in the South Andean region of Peru. This paper is based on part of the data gathered on this occasion, that is, 43 in-depth interviews with individual Andean communities' people (31 women and 12 men) from seven provinces of Cusco and two group interviews with women's organisations (Mother's Clubs). In this essay I also make reference to my visits to 27 Judges of the Peace. I value every one of my interviews as a 'life story', that is, every person provided me with his/her unique personal perspective in the common context of the Andean community's life. In this sense, my interviews were not designed to provide a statistical analysis but rather a trend of representative opinions of the community people of the area.
The wide literature on Andean cultural life reveals that Andean society is strongly 'gendered', however, such a differentiation between male and female roles in society does not bring a negative valuation of women, on the contrary, women are associated with prosperity and good luck (Valderrama and Escalante, 1997, p.153, Ossio, 1992, p.216, 217, Knox-Seith, 1995, p.132-133). The Andean world vision is based on the conjugal pair. It is around a married couple that the life of the communities is based (Platt, 1986, p.241, Harris, 1978, p.218, Isbell, 1978, p.119-136, Ossio, 1992, p.224-332). Singleness deserves social exclusion. Kinship is bilateral, based in both parental line and generates important networks of mutual aid. 'Reciprocity' is the language of survival in Andean communities. It means affection and fraternity but also generates links of control and harmonisation. Some 'spiritual' relatives such as godfathers are going to have a great influence over their godchildren and especially over the married couple. They will be called on to intervene in domestic disputes and their opinion can influence the behaviour of both members of the couple (Mayer, 1977, Peña, 1998, p.162).
Andean women have always been strong members of their communities, one evidence of that is their principal role in the household economy management. Another is their own economic autonomy expressed in the accumulation of a personal patrimony separate from their husbands. Additionally, their presence as widows or separated women is socially acceptable, although in these cases, women's situation can be more or less disadvantageous depending on their economic capacity to allow them to fulfil their 'commoner obligations' as equal as any other household made up of both spouses (Ossio, 1992, p.133-4, Skar, 1979, p.455).
At the level of political representation, women held important posts within the traditional structure of the communities and used to participate in the general meetings of the communities the same as men. However after a process of 'modernisation' carried out by the Agrarian Reform women were displaced from those 'visible' responsibilities within the mainstream of community life. It was legally stated that households were represented by the 'head', this is by husbands. This jeopardised the economic independence of women making the husband representative of the land holding. The Agrarian reform also made difficult the process of 'private accumulation', affecting mainly women who were as capable as men to be owners of goods and land. It has been documented, however, that Andean communities managed to resist some kinds of 'modernisation' and property continued to be transmitted by 'parallel line' leaving women with their private rights over ownership intact and emphasised the 'representative' character of the 'head of the household', encouraging the members to discuss the Assemblies concerns with their wives (Isbell, 1978, p.30, 216, Casos, 1990, Nuñez, 1975a).
By the 1970s women had developed a protagonistic role through their own organisations. As a consequence, in the last years women have started to regain a place within the General Assembly but still their participation is not very active, incapable of dealing with a domain for decades confined by men in a men's language. This surprises the women who whilst feeling confident in their own organisation, feel less able to understand the way in which community issues are decided. A decisive element for such a secondary place is that most women have a low command of Spanish (or are fully monolingual) and the language of the larger societies and the public affairs is Spanish. The result is that women can not understand many issues discussed in the Assembly and/or regard themselves as incapable of dealing with official authorities and procedures (Casos, 1990, Villasante, 1990).
The important place that women have in Andean households, however, is suffering some modification in those communities more incorporated in the market economy. The Andean family has been basically a unit of production and consumption and women have had the main role of managing the family resources. A major need for cash means for women a major dependence on the husband earning money (mainly as waged labourer) since she remains in the community taking care of children and land. In these cases symptoms of subordination have been reported (Casos, 1990, Villasante, 1990).
An important aspect that appears in a review on Andean communities life, is that the communal bodies and women's organisations were created with specific agendas. The first one to deal exclusively with all community management aspects, the second one was born around survival activities. Particularly, since the Agrarian Reform, communal bodies are exclusively concerned with organising land and labour in the community and for ensuring that all members fulfil their commoners' obligations.
In relation to women's organisations, it has been a great achievement for women to be able to organise themselves. However, women's organisations are very much concentrated in productive activities and in the creation of women's political leaderships within their communities. It has been a long journey to win these spaces 'for women as women'. This is being achieved gradually. Still these organisations are not spaces in which a woman can bring a 'personal' problem, such as domestic violence into the agenda (Casos, 1990, Villasante, 1990).
It has always been an impossible task to find out how much violence women experience in real terms. It is widely understood that the official statistics on domestic violence are just the 'tip of the iceberg' of the problem and most cases of domestic violence go unreported (Tamayo, 1991). Consequently, it was not the focus of this research to know how much violence happens in the Andean communities studied, but how much violence the people think happens and how serious they consider the problem to be. All my interviewees acknowledged the existence of domestic violence in their communities. However, the degree, the extent and the circumstances in which a man can beat his wife are perceived in different ways:
'Most women in 'C..' are beaten' (woman, 46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco).
'There are a lot of problems of violence' (woman, 30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba).
'There are many women who are beaten' (woman 53, AC in the Dist Ocongate, Prov. Quispicanchi).
'There are many problems of husbands who beat their wives' (woman, 20, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca).
'There are some husbands who beat their wives' (man 25, AC in theDist. Taray, Prov. Calca).
Most of my interviewees believe that domestic violence is undoubtedly linked to drunkenness:
'There are a lot of problems of men beating their wives because the husband is a drunkard' (woman 20, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca).
'There are many problems of violence, because of drunkenness, because of alcohol, most of them are for jealously' (woman 30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba).
'Many men beat when they are drunk' (woman, 19, in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco) .
'Most men who drink beat' (woman 30 AC in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco).
Some of my interviewees emphasise the persistence of these practises through the generations:
'There have always been these beatings. My mum says that her grandmother was beaten a lot by her husband' (woman, 30, AC in the Dist. Cusco, Cusco).
'Always have been maltreatment problems. When they make the 'chacra' (cultivating the plots) they come drunk and provoke these problems. When they are sober they just insult us, with the mouth and generally when they have another woman, they criticise us over everything they are not satisfied with, they say the food is not good and so on' (Women in a Mother's Club of the Prov. Calca).
'It always happens that there is beating, that the man beats' (women in a Mother's Club of the , Prov. Calca).
'Always have been beatings at home. I saw my mother being beaten' (woman, 46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Cusco).
However, there were some people who were convinced that this was a problem of older generations and that the new ones, mainly by education, have managed to overcome such negative behaviour.
'In my age these things almost do not happen because we have studied completed secondary and also some institutions have trained us and have taught us how to live in the community... In the generation of my parents it happened, they drink 'trago' (cane sugar alcohol) and 'chicha' (maize beer), because of lack of education people commit mistake, by ignorance, because they don't analyse the things' (man 25, AC in the Dist. Taray, Calca).
'Younger people have less problems of violence, the old couples have more problems of violence' (woman 30, AC in the Dist. Chincheros, Urubamba).
'The old men were worse [more evil]' (woman 30, AC of the Dist. of Cusco, Cusco).
'In the past people did not study because of that they beat more' (man 33, AC of the Dist. of Cusco, Cusco).
In relation to this generational issue, it was not possible from the judicial records to elucidate if this affirmation was accurate or not since they did not always show the age of the parties. The Pisac judge believes that complaints come from all range of ages. For instance, on my visit to the district of Tinta (Prov. Canchis), of the three women who came to complain in one afternoon, one was in her middle fifties, the other in her middle forties and one in the early twenties. The judge of the peace of Zurite (Prov. Anta) believes the same but he notices that 'younger people' are more willing to formalise their complaints about domestic violence cases in the judge's place. He told me:
'older people just come to tell me directly at my home about their problems but they don't want to present a complaint'.
To contrast this overwhelming finding of male violence I asked people if there were women who beat their husbands. I received the following answers:
A woman of an AC of the Distric of Chichero (30, Prov. Urubamba) thinks that although women can have the same 'excuses to exercise violence against men they never do:
'When the men get drunk or make wrong their works women never beat them'.
Others of my interviewees, instead, acknowledge that women can be violent in the same circumstances as men, that is when they are drunk. A woman of an AC of theDist Cusco (30, Prov. Cusco) told me:
'Women who drink sometimes beat'.
A woman of an AC in the Dist of Taray (20, Prov. Calca) makes an important observation:
'Some women drink and fight when both are drunk they fight more. So both beat each other, but the most injured is the woman'.
A woman (aged 26) from a Mother's Club in the Prov. Calca told me that women can be violent precisely to avoid being maltreated:
'Women also beat when they are defending themselves when the husband is beating them. Sometimes they beat each other when they are drunk...sometimes men deserve to be punished, why women have to permit to be beaten?'
In Andean communities it is encouraged that women retaliate against their husbands if they are going to be beaten or should escape to avoid being beaten. Most of my interviewees who confessed to have been beaten did not receive such attacks passively. This is also reported by Harris (1994, p.48, 60) and Harvey (1994, p.66).
'My stepfather started to beat us, my mother and me. He beat us every time that he got drunk... When he was sober he loved me again: 'little boy just when I am drunk I am bad'...' (Valderrama and Escalante, 1992, p.149).
From a feminist perspective, the link between 'drunkeness' and violence is just contingent. Drunkenness is a state in which emotions are exacerbated and inhibitions lost. In this context it is easy that men who are anyway violent and disdainful toward their partners get into physical assaults. In Latin America, the most common scenario is men drinking between men. In this typical macho atmosphere remarks on gender hierarchisation and gossip about each others wives are frequent. However, in Andean communities the relationship between drunkeness and beating can not be discarded so easily for the following reasons: firstly, from the judge's of the Peace's records, in almost the totality of cases of domestic violence men are reported as being drunk or having been 'partying' previously. This is a high incidence of drunkenness associated with domestic violence and it strongly contrasts with our data collected in the Women's Police Station of Lima where men beat their wives when drunk in just 32% of cases, while they beat them when sober in 68% (Estremadoyro, 1995). Secondly, Judges of Peace' general opinion is that domestic violence in rural areas appeared because of drinking problems. Thirdly, my interviewees were unanimous in identifying drunkenness as the main cause of domestic violence. Consequently, in their perception these are two interconnected subjects. A woman (aged 20) from an AC of the Dist. Taray (Prov. Calca), was radical and told me:
'Nobody beat sober, all of them beat drunk'.
A woman (aged 46) from an AC of the Dist. San Sebastian (Prov. Cusco) also commented:
'I realise now that I have grown up that men are nervous and sulphuric when drunk'.
For a man (33, AC in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco) the alcohol provoked problems not just at the level of domestic relationships but also among commoners. Consequently he thinks:
'There are fights and beatings because there are drunkards, it is necessary to leave the alcohol'.
And his wife (aged 30) added:
'The alcohol has to disappear'.
This couple became evangelists some years ago. They are forbidden to drink by religious practise. They confessed to me that since they became evangelists and left the alcohol their relationship as partners and their relationship with their children have improved significantly. However, the husband was able to recognise that:
'It does not just depend on the alcohol, it also depends on the character of the people. There are people that have a strong character'.
A man (25, AC from an AC of the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca) told me that there are some commoners who drink a lot but they are just 'the 30%'. He also recognised that:
'Women also drink, they drink between themselves. Those women are the most that have problems'.
A woman (26, from an AC of the distric Pisac, Calca) was of the same opinion:
'Some women have the vice of drinking and the babies cry of hunger'.
Both think that these women are more likely to have domestic violence problems.
Women from a Mother's Club (Prov. Calca) believes that:
'Most men drink but some of them drink more than the others. There are many cases of maltreatment because husbands are drunk. However, they were able to recognise: but there are also some men who beat sober when arguing for anything'.
A woman (46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco) qualified her father as a normal man when sober but capable of major violence against her mother when drunk. A woman (25, AC in the Dist. Pisac, Prov. Calca) did not know what to do with her husband. When sober he was a supportive partner who even encouraged her to assume more responsibilities within the communities, such as accept the post of 'health promoter'. When drunk, he was able to injure her to such an extent that once she had to be sent to the hospital. She expressed to me:
'My husband always beats me when he is drunk, sober he never beats me. The next day he excuses himself, 'because I was drunk I beat you''.
The 'Andean drunkenness', la borrachera andina has been a concern of many anthropologists interested in Andean culture and it has been quoted in these studies. For instance, Harvey (1991, 1992, 1994) has concentrated her attention on the issue for many years and others have dedicated complete volumes to analyse the borrachera from different perspectives (e.g. Saignes, 1993).
Heath (1993), Saignes (1993) and other authors, claim that the consumption of alcoholic drinks in the South American highlands is as old as the pre-Inca times. The moments for alcohol consumption were always collective and related to religious-magic celebrations. In this way, they entered in contact with the sacred. The arrival of the Spaniards also disrupted this aspect of native life. The 'Catholic calendar' brought more 'occasions' for drinking because there was an increase in the religious celebrations. Drinking was also promoted in the places of tribute-labour particularly at the mining centres, in the belief that drunkenness gave the Indians the courage to enter to the shafts (Saignes, 1993).
Drinking was also used to 'to recover the collective memory' (Saignes, 1993, p.58-62). During the celebrations Andean people recalled the history of their past civilisation and their gods. Saignes (1993, p.61) suggests that the contact with the sacred enabled them to bring back 'from the unconsciousness' this silent memory, although a more logical explanation is that in a drunken state people were less inhibited to express what they normally kept silent in front of the colonisers. Next to the collective and celebratory character of the Andean drunkenness, incidents of violence between commoners and of men beating their wives were reported from very early chronicles.
Some of these characteristics remain until today. Drinking is socially acceptable in celebratory groups. Men drink more than women and often women and children become 'guardians' of the man who is drinking. A man who drinks frequently or who drinks alone receives social reprobation. People fight when they drink remembering previous disagreements. In some places of the South Andes mountains exists the custom of tinkus and chaxwas ('ritual battles') which mimic war confrontation between two different ayllus (or groups of communities). These fights are always carried out in a state of drunkenness (Harris, 1994). After drinking on such occasions some husbands beat their wives, as Harris (1994, p.48) would say 'some frequently, some only occasionally'.
For Heath (1993, p.184) the link between collective drinking and wife-beating in Andean culture is certainly not clear. Harris (1994) has reflected on such an association finding some possible explanations. She looks at the 'ambiguity' of the representation of masculinity in Andean culture. Andean society is strongly based on the conjugal pair who are thought of as a complementary and interdependent unit in which no part is more important than the other. This belief was confirmed by my interviewees. When I asked a woman (aged 30) in an AC of the Dist Chinchero who commands at home, she did not hesitate in answering me:
'At home commands the man and also the woman. They mutually command each other, otherwise if just the man command what would be the woman's function?'
Harris would argue that next to these egalitarian beliefs there is another set of symbolic representations providing different information on man-woman relationships. This is the image of bull, as the strongest, and the 'condor' as predator of women. The image of 'bull' is taken by the author from the tinkus battles. The bull is celebrated for its tremendous strength and drunk men on those occasions make explicit references to themselves as being bulls while their opponents are 'feminised'. In Andean communities there is a high value on men's physical strength, celebrated both by men and women, since to survive in the Andean mountains but especially to plough the arid and hard soil of the mountains depends on a great amount of physical strength and this task corresponds to men.
However, it is the image of the 'condor' which really 'breaks' the symbolism of 'complementarity' in the couple. Harris (1994) analyses a widespread Andean myth in which a condor abducted a girl to be his wife, the girl refused to accept him and became 'dry bones'. The author related this myth to the teenagers sexual encounters in the mountains and the subsequent transfer of the girl to the boys house. As the condor, the boy takes his wife to his home (or to his parents home). The author suggests that although the girl is completely in agreement with such an 'abduction', the image of the 'condor' as predator of women is confirmed. In Northern Potosi (Bolivia), where the author's study took place, there are resemblances of this condor myth during the marriage ritual. This analysis has sense in places where the pattern of residence is virilocal, that is, the girl moves to the boy's family house but it does not match with most of the Peruvian South Andean communities in which the pattern of residence is uxirolocal, this is husbands are incorporated to the women's side (Ossio, 1992). This is one of the reasons why it is expected to have more girls than boys because it brings more labour force for the family. Most of my interviewees had a uxirolocal pattern of residence during the first years of marriage until the couple saved some money to build their own house, in other cases the pattern of residence was neolocal from the beginning.
However, further to claim that this myth or symbolic reference can be applicable to a particular region it is necessary to reflect on the relevance of such arguments to understand domestic violence in the Andean region. In all my years in contact with Andean women facing domestic violence I have never heard any of them relate that her referring to themselves as bulls or condors. The same author warns about this situation when she comments:
'I have never heard an explicit connection made between the condor identity of the wife-taker and the fact that men beat their wives', it is a deduction that she made from 'circumstantial evidence' (Harris, 1994, p.55).
Maybe the most important point of such an analysis is to understand that in Andean communities with a strong emphasis on the unity of the conjugal pair, there are other aspects of this man-woman relationship that are more controversial and that break this image of complementarity. This confirms Moore's (1994) ideas that 'contradictory and conflicting' discourses on gender can coexist in the same culture.
There is a second element that Harris (1994) analyses that contributes to make the 'generic status of domestic violence' in Andean communities 'troubling' and 'ambivalent'. It is the issue of drunkenness. Harris (1994, p.58) called it the state of 'otherness', in which the level of alcohol consumption should be appropriate to enter into 'contact with the sacred' by producing an altered state of consciousness. Harris (1994, p.58) explains:
'It is when they have separated themselves through collective drinking from everyday life and when normal inhibitions are lowered that men embody and enact the sacred powers on which the life of the community depends, which are given form in the bull and condor'.
Heath (1993, p.177-8) claims that a man who drinks stops to be himself 'to be other'. The author quotes some phrases from his informants:
'Please do not be offended, it is not Mamani who is talking, it is the alcohol who is talking'; or
'Do not blame him, it is the chicha (maize corn) which obliged him to do it'.
For Heith, this expresses a kind of 'possession', the 'other' intrusive is the 'alcohol' itself. This substance can have a 'malign' character and the drunkard can enter into a violent behaviour.
The violence is 'split off from everyday life' but it is part of a highly valued ritual in which 'losing control' is considered necessary as a homage to the sacred entities. Violence, then, is a risk to pay for perpetuating the ritual and the empowerment with the divinity. Consequently, domestic violence is not condoned by anybody in Andean communities but it is understood in such circumstances. Harris (1994, p.59) adds:
'Violence in Northern Potosi in general is neither excluded nor denied, neither used as a source of legitimacy nor expelled onto a putative periphery, but is located in an 'other world' in which it is harnessed to social reproduction, but at the same time recognised in all its ambivalence'.
These ideas contribute to understanding why despite the fact that domestic violence is considered 'deviant' at a discursive level by Andean people, it is also tolerated in practice and why women hesitate to make husbands responsible in a more assertive way. These words of Harris (1994, p.52) expressed all of this contradictory status of domestic violence in Andean communities:
'..mostly people do not approve when men beat their wives, nor do men boast of it openly...In practice, a man is usually very sheepish the following morning as his wife gives full vent to her indignation while she prepares the breakfast, or as he finds himself alone with a hangover, his wife having gone to 'visit' a kinsperson. He says 'I was drunk. I don't know what got into me''.
My interviewees, however, provided additional information that permits clarification of the ambiguous features of domestic violence. When I asked a woman (aged 30) in an AC of the Dist. Chinchero (Prov. Urubamba) whether she had personal knowledge of a domestic violence case she immediately referred to her own case, and this is her story:
'Before getting married we fought a lot, now my husband behaves well, he realised that he was wrong because of our children. At that time when he was drunk he beat me. In the beginning of our relationship there was no understanding. Between us we arranged, we never go to the judge. But now we don't fight like before. Our parents intervened and told us that we have to live well. He used to accuse me of not selling enough (she sells their own handicraft in the market) but when he was sober he never complained just when he was drunk he argued with me.
Sometimes men make the 'chacra' (agricultural work) and drink and help each other ('ayni') Now my husband paints [ceramic] at home. He has stopped drinking because his hand shivers and he can not paint. But even if he drinks he no longer makes problems, he promises me before drinking that he is not going to cause me problems. Even crying, singing he sleeps quiet. He realised that the children got worried and afraid. This was before we got married but slowly he has changed and now is a serious person'.
We can see in this narrative, that the context of the violence is not set by the drunkeness but by the fact that the husband was resentful of his wife, demanding her to work even harder. After failing to arrange 'between them' parents are called to intervene convincing the man of his wrong attitude. The man still drinks but has promised not to beat her more. If he would be in the 'uncontrollable state' paying tribute to the ancestral deities, how could this arrangement made in a sober state work during the alienated state of drunkenness? A question that our anthropologist has not answered.
Having said that, it is necessary to clarify that this thesis does not attempt to find the explanation of domestic violence in Andean communities but rather to explore people's perception of the issue and the decisions that they take to resolve this problem. With this intention in mind we find other scenarios in which domestic violence occurs.
Of all causes associated with drinking that my interviewees pointed out, jealously was the most common. It involves the violent protest of husbands who accuse women of having affairs, usually without any basis in reality.
A woman (46 AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco) saw her mother being beaten by her father who when drunk, accused her of having affairs. A woman (43, a Women's Mothers Club, Prov. Pisac) told me that she had to separate from her husband who drunk accused her of going out with other men. A woman (47, AC district Ocongate, Prov. Quispicanchi) told me that one of her neighbours is beaten by her drunk husband who while doing it, reminds her of a previous partner.
Complaints about imagined unfaithfulness by wives as the main pretext to beat women is also reported by Stolen (1987) in her study in the highlands of Ecuador while Harvey (1994, p.75) arrives at a similar conclusion in her work about the district of Ocongate (Prov. Quispicanchi).
b) Male infidelity
Another circumstance in which men beat women when drunk related by my interviewees is when a man is losing himself with another woman (woman, 26, AC in the, Dist. Pisac, Prov. Calca). That is, they are having an affair. Harvey (1994, p.67) states that in this case men become 'vicious' toward their wives 'especially when their lovers are not really under their control'. Consequently, the wife pays for the 'other woman's deeds'. For my interviewees the reason is more simple. Men who are having an affair feel bored with 'everything' that the wives do (women from a Mother Club, Prov. Calca).
Additionally, Sanchez (1990, p.45), referring to the highlands of Ecuador, claims that men who are unfaithful tend to justify themselves accusing their wives of doing the same. In my experience as a legal advisor in domestic violence in an urban setting it was obvious that men who beat, beat more when they are having affairs.
c) The 'demanding' husband
Another circumstance in which men beat their wives when drunk is to reprimand them for not fulfilling their agricultural or household tasks. Women told me that some men when they get drunk 'remember' what they consider women's faults. A woman (47, AC in the Dist, Ocongate, Prov. Quispicanchi) told me that her husband did not beat her often but when he did it was because she did not perform her agricultural tasks:
'I did not do the tasks that my husband left me because I preferred to look after my children. I did not fulfil the agricultural tasks like sweeping the manure or cultivating in the plot. Because of that he beat me'.
A woman (30, AC in the Distric, Chincheros Ollantaytambo) told me that men argue with women because they don't perform the housework as they want so when drunk they beat them. A woman (46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Cusco) told me:
'if a woman loses a lamb men get very nervous and when drunk they beat the woman'.
Women from a Mother's club (Prov. Calca) were of the same opinion:
'Men also get angry when we are not cooking well'.
In January 1997 I was travelling with an NGO team to an AC in the Dist. Coya (Prov. Calca) to participate in a 'training activity' when suddenly, in the middle of the road, two cows and one calf were suffocating and couldn't move. A pregnant woman was next to them shouting and crying for help. While this was happening she constantly repeated 'what is my husband going to do to me?'. The cows had eaten a herb that becomes poisonous if, when still wet, it receives sunshine. It is a very common problem during the rainy season in the highlands. It demands extreme care to prevent the cows grazing when the herb has not dried out. This quite advanced pregnant woman, alone, was taking care of two cows, one calf and one bull. The team managed to save the two cows but could not revive the calf. Later in the day when we were coming back we found the husband on one side of the road with the dead calf, waiting for somebody to give him a lift to donate the dead animal for a festivity. He did not look angry or worried, on the contrary he was grateful to the team who managed to save the cows, however, some members of the team wondered what would be his reaction against his wife, especially if he got drunk.
d) Women's Complaints
Sanchez (1990, p.35-6) claims that in Andean culture the 'complementarity' has a very special meaning in relation to work and men can become particularly vicious when their wives do not fulfil their expectation of 'mutual help'. This could explain why Andean men get angry with their wives but does not explain why women, having the same grounds to complain against their husbands do not beat them and on the contrary they are many times beaten because they reprimand their husband for their wrong attitude. In this sense, my interviewees acknowledge that a woman can be beaten by her husband when she reprimands his wrongdoing while he is drunk. A woman (20, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca) told me:
'Women complain when men do not work and because of that the fight starts'.
A woman (30, AC in the District Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba) told me that between the couple are disagreements and this 'bad understanding make men to beat'.
Other women confessed to me that when men are drunk they are very careful not to complain about their behaviour until the next morning in case the husband reacts violently against them.
My interviewees would claim that 'to gossip' is often connected causally with the other 'excuses' for beating. To gossip, said my interviewees has to do with 'to envy'. People gossip, 'invent things about you and others because of envy'. The 'gossip' reveals the intervention of others in generating men's excuses to beat their wives or to exacerbate their feelings and willingness to beat. It is mainly through the gossip that the excuse of jealously is reinforced or created.
A woman (30, from a Mother's Club Prov. Calca) told me :
'What happens is that men listen to gossips. When they drink together they warn each other about how a woman was in her youth'.
A man (27, AC in the Dist. Pisac, Calca) confessed in front of the Pisac judge and me that he had beaten his wife because he had listened to gossip about her, so when he drank he got so angry.
A woman (32) from an AC in the Dist. Limatambo (Prov. Anta) believes that:
'There is gossip because of envy, because we are living well with out partners so other men bad advise'.
She also added that sometimes mothers-in-law can gossip too:
'There are some bad mothers-in-law, they tell their son, your wife has maltreated your children, they have beaten them or she has not listened to my advice so when they get drunk they get angry'.
However, she was the only one who mentioned 'mothers in law' as 'gossipers'.
There is a common belief that in small communities to gossip and to envy have particular characteristics. Urbano (1992, x) claims that in social groups where the reduced socio-economic conditions are more or less equal between their members, people who envy express their incapacity to acknowledge other's success, and the deeds of their virtuousness and effort. They 'deny the individual the capacity to overcome the adversity'. (Urbano, 1992, xii). For some of my interviewees 'to live well' with a partner awakes other men's envy.
Domestic violence is not viewed positively in Andean communities. None of my interviewees condoned it. For most women, violence is experienced with sadness and resentfulness and it is experienced in a very personal way, as part of their 'own destiny'. Some of my interviewees told me that they had prevented men beating their wives or had successfully helped others in the face of a threat of violence. However, an analysis of the communities' institutions reveals a lack of a group attitude against domestic violence. This is one of the expressions of the 'ambivalence' in which domestic violence is placed in their communal life (Harris, 1994).
A woman (32, AC in the Dist. Limatambo, Prov. Anta) told me:
'Some people in the community feel sad because of these problems but others laugh, they say women are so silly - in her case I would have left my husband a long time ago. Some other women advise: ' you have to cope with that for your children because this has happened since our grandmothers'.
It is common to listen to men referring to a woman as 'silly' for continuing to live with a man who beats her. Women instead are more cautious of such a view, like a woman (aged 28) from an AC in the District of Urcos (Prov. Quispicanchi) who said that she always criticised men who beat their wives but she feels ashamed when sometimes her husband beats her.
In relation to beaten women's reaction, a woman (aged 20) from an AC in the Dist. Taray (Prov. Calca) expressed the following:
'Some women cry, other's fight back. They don't want to be beaten more, they say is not good, some of them think of separating others of escape and others of drinking a poison. They think in this way because their husbands beat them so much and they can not cope with this life'.
As a counter idea I asked people what they thought made a 'good marriage'. These were some of their answers:
'The pretty ('bonito', Spanish expression used in the highlands to refer to 'the good' or 'the best') is to live without beating, just arguing with the mouth (verbally)' (woman 30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero Prov. Urubamba).
'To live well is to understand each other, to plan things together, without men drinking' (woman, 20, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca).
'It would be good to live without beating. There are some couples who live well' (Women from a Mothers Club of the Prov. Calca).
I found the narratives of a couple (wife 30, husband 33) in an AC of Dist. Cusco (Prov. Cusco) quite relevant because their conversion to 'evangelists' has prevented them from drinking alcohol which normally people identify as causing most problems of violence in the communities. The evangelic movement is becoming increasingly accepted among Andean people at present. Their opinions are as follows:
'We don't live well fighting, if the drinking did not exist everybody would live well' (husband).
'When there are no fights you find happiness, you live in peace' (wife).
'They don't know the Lord's gospel because of that they don't change but there are a lot who know it and because of that they no longer beat their wives. For instance 'B..' (a neighbour) is no longer beaten because her husband has converted. Within the Church (Evangelist) we are not allowed to drink' (husband).
'For me it has been easy to stop drinking because God has chosen me. Some of the community don't understand' (husband).
'For others it is very difficult, but for us it has been very quick, we don't drink even 'chicha' (maize beer). Before both of us were drunk and my children were neglected. We have been in the Evangelic Church for 7 years. We were Catholic first' (wife).
'The Catholic priest doesn't talk deeply about the Lords gospel and because of that they 'walk' commonly' (husband) [He referred to the lack of virtue in some Catholic priests'].
'We don't participate in the Catholic festivities but we do participate in the communal assembly meetings and communal work (faenas). We don't make 'earth payment' (an agricultural ritual) or something like that. Now they don't tell us anything, they understand us, but in the beginning they made us problem. They wanted to throw us out. Now almost the half of the community are Evangelist before we were just 3 now we are like 30 (families)'.
We can see how this couple were rejected for behaving differently from the 'traditional pattern' of the community, but their lives have been an example for others. Many people have converted because they saw them improve their lives, working together and living in peace. This has happened in other communities as well. To give up alcohol is a sign of changing times within Andean communities that are able to ignore an ancestral custom in the belief that this will improve their life. After their conversion, this couple have performed important posts within the community.
As was mentioned, cases of domestic violence are lived mainly as a personal problem and alternatives to stop the situation do not follow a pattern. On some occasions the situation is called to the attention of parents and godparents and 'in extreme cases' women go to judges and/or to lieutenant governors. There is no communal space to bring this problem to the group attention. This situation is clearly expressed by a woman (aged 32) from an AC in the Dist. Limatambo (Prov. Anta):
'Women don't say when they are beaten. We hear that they are beaten because the houses are together. The most they do is call the parents-in-law and the parents. Only when it is very serious they go to the police station or to the judge. They never take this problem to the Assembly'.
According to my interviewees the structure of the forums of intervention is as follows:
My interviewees were unanimous in recognising that most domestic violence cases are solved just between the couple. They commented:
'People never go to the judge in these cases. Nor to the Lieutenant Governor Between them they solve the problem' (woman, 47, AC Dist Ocongate, Prov. Quispicanchi).
'Some cases go to the police station some others 'arrange pretty' (arreglan bonito)' (woman 30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba).
'It is just like they manage to forget and when they are hurt (physically) between them they cure. With 'trago' (sugar cane alcohol) they put in the wound, with the wax, with crushed tile When they beat each other so much, they go to the godparents most of them don't go to the justice. Between the family they arrange' ( woman 30, AC in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco).
'Between them just 'arreglan' (reach an arrangement)' (woman, AC in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco).
'The problems are solved the following day after the beating and when not, they go to the lieutenant governor' (woman 46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco).
'Between us we just 'abuenamos' [make 'good' to each other] We enter in a good agreement... When there are beatings you remain one day upset but after is gone and you 'abuenas'. With too much beating they separate' (a woman from a Mothers' Club, Prov. Calca).
'Most of these cases we resolve between us. If there is more understanding both change and they get along well after that' (A woman from a Mother's Club Prov., Calca).
Andean communal life is based strongly in the extended family network. Peña ( 1998, p.199-206) places the kin intervention as central in the resolution of 'private/family' problems in the Aymaras communities of Puno. In the classification proposed by Peña, a case of 'maltreatment' can be resolved by the parents of each partner who performed as a representative of their children, the godparents who performed as 'mediators', and the same parties in their search for a 'good arrangement'. The means are dialogue and the opinion. In some cases, the 'arrangement' can be formalised by writing in front of communal authorities or the judge of the peace. In the present study, I did not find a strict pattern of family intervention although it is noticeable how important is the role of parents and godparents to prevent and solve cases of domestic violence.
Here are some of my interviewees opinions:
'Some of them [member of the couple] tell it to the godparents, to the parents. Sometimes they advise to separate others don't' (woman 30, AC in the Dist Chinchero Prov. Urubamba).
'Godparents reprimand them to stop drinking. Some of them don't follow the advice and keep drinking. In this way the godparents finish feeling tired of talking to them, they don't longer reprimand them' (woman 30, AC in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco).
'Parents or godparents also intervene if the couple ask them, in other cases just between them resolve' (woman, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco).
'Also they told to godparents, sometimes' (woman, 20, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca).
'Parents intervene, if they don't exist then godparents, if they can't then they go to the judge' (man, 25, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca).
My interviewees were in agreement that relatives intervene if the couple, probably more often the beaten women, ask them to intervene.
People were in agreement that communal organisations neither provide an opportunity nor the space to talk about 'domestic' problems. Steering committees deal with or are involved in solving conflicts in the community but related to commoner's obligations. I found in my review of the judge's records only few cases in which the communal authorities presented a case of abandonment or maltreated children or wives to judges of the peace.
Women's organisations are overtly dismissed by my interviewees as a forum of intervention. A woman (aged 30) from an AC in the Dist. Chinchero (Prov. Urubamba) vice-president of the Mother's Club in her community was radical in telling me:
'In front of the Mother's Club there are no denunciation about violence, women don't tell if the husband beat them. Neither in the Steering Committee of the community. Women go straight to the judge'.
Other respondents were of the same opinion. This impression was confirmed to me by members of a communities' steering committees (Prov. Quispicanchi) in the sense that they don't deal with 'family' cases.
In the study of Peña (1998, p.298) the communal authorities have a 'passive' role in relation to 'private/family cases. Their main function is the elaboration of written documents containing the terms of the arrangement that the family has arrived at previously. Just on a very few and serious occasions the steering committee is obliged by the circumstances to intervene in family cases. Peña is in agreement that the communal bodies have as main role the management of the communities and eventually to resolve conflicts involving land tenure and commoners obligations. Harris (1994, p.59) mentions that women in Northern Potosi present complaints before communal authorities because of being beaten by their husbands and the authorities 'have to adjudicate'. Depending of the circumstances the husband is 'fined or sanctioned'.
a) A 'Serious Case'
My interviewees were in agreement that just the 'serious cases' go to the judge and sometimes also to the lieutenant governor. I enquired of some of my interviewees what was their concept of a 'serious case'. Women from a Mothers' Club (Prov. Calca) told me:
'when it is not possible to bear with that because daily we are beaten'.
A woman (aged 43), also from the Mothers' Club, added that she was one of these 'serious cases':
'It happened to me that my husband beat me so much. He is a drunkard, now he is lost, all the time drunk walking in the streets. The beating for me was daily. He just come straight, he though that I was with other men, even he beat the chairs'.
For a woman (30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero Prov. Urubamba) a case is 'serious' depending on the intensity of the injuries:
'when the beating is too much and he burst the eye or the face'.
For a woman (46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian) this is a matter of personal situation. She told me that a woman goes to judges:
'when she thinks that she can no longer bear it and there are women who can bear more than others'.
b) Lieutenant Governors
Lieutenant Governor is the lowest representative of the Internal Affairs Ministry. He (always a man) is the police representative in their communities and fulfils some of their functions. Lieutenant Governors are appointed in a General Assembly and later officially confirmed by the Sub-prefecturas (district representatives of the internal affairs ministry). Lieutenant Governors work closely with judges' of the peace because they are responsible for judicial appointments. They can also report cases to the judges.
In places substantially distant from a judge's place, lieutenant governors can be considered a kind of 'substitute' of the judge. People's confidence in lieutenant governors, however, depends on how impartial they suspect this authority will be in their case. Women who suffer domestic violence problems would not look for the intervention of a Lieutenant governor if this officer also beats his wife or is a close relative or friend of their husbands. Here are some of my interviewees opinions:
A woman (30, AC in the Dist. Cusco, Prov. Cusco) told me:
'They go to the judges of the peace just when there are arguments with other families. First they go to the Lieutenant Governor and later if they don't reach an agreement they are sent to the judges of Cusco'.
A woman (AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco) was of the same opinion:
'When a woman is beaten very hard or has been badly punished she go to the lieutenant governor... The lieutenant governor based in the law, in the article that he has in the hand, they call them the attention and they told them it should not be in this way. When is more serious it is remitted to the judge'.
For a woman (25, AC in the Dist Pisac, Prov. Calca) this is a problem of individual choice:
'Some of them go to the judge others to the lieutenant governor'.
For a woman (26, AC in the Dist. Pisac, Prov. Calca) lieutenants are the only choice available:
'There are some women who their husbands beat them, they go to the lieutenant governor'.
c) Judges of the Peace
Most of my interviewees, however, mentioned judges as those mainly responsible for intervention. As a woman (aged 20) from an AC in the Dist. Chincheros (Prov. Urubamba) remembers:
'People go to the judge when it is serious and when they don't have anybody, they do not have parents. When they have them they just arrange between them'.
A woman (20, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca) told me:
'Some women go to the judge to complain or to separate. These are the less. When people fight they go to the judge when they fight drunk. They go to the judge of Taray'.
Women from a Mothers' Club (Prov. Calca) told me:
'They go to the judge with the seriousness of the beating either to separate or to arrange in a good way'.
A man (25, AC in the Dist. Taray, Prov. Calca) was very well informed of the last legal change:
'Sometimes in these fights they go to the judge. Recently it has been enacted a law and maltreatment should not occur at home. Women can defend themselves now'.
My interviewees have a positive impression about judges' intervention. In domestic violence cases they consider that husbands attitude toward the judges is very important for a successful end. A woman (25, AC in the Dist. Pisac, Prov. Calca) told me:
'If the man listen to what the judge is telling him then he does not longer beat. Most of them obey the judge and they don't beat more. Some of them change their character but some don't. It is better to go to the judge'.
Women from a Mothers' Club in the Prov. Calca told me:
'Most of men change when they go to the judge'. However, they also acknowledge: 'There are women for whom it is worse, the husband threaten them 'walking you go to the judge' (it means you have enough energy or time to go to the judge but not to do other things).
A woman (30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba) had a very positive opinion:
'In the judge of peace they always arrange. When they are spouses they reach a pretty agreement. It is good that there is a judge of peace because all that provoke problem regret their behaviour and they realised what they are doing'.
A strong disparity that mainstream legal proposals have with the reality of the Andean people is that it presupposes that a reasonable ending of a domestic violence case is separation and that people who suffer domestic violence are defenceless in the hands of dangerous perpetrators. As Harris (1994, p.59) has analysed, the violence in more Western cultures is regarded as a 'breakdown of normality', like an 'intrusion from outside'. In the Andean communities even marital violence can be 'repaired' or mended' through dialogue and advice. Consequently, for the people of Andean communities, there are two ways of ending a case of marital violence:
1) the highly expected: 'pretty arrangement' or 'good understanding'; and
2) when the situation is not 'controllable', the separation.
It is very common to hear about arreglar bonito (to 'arrange' in a smooth way), or buen entendimiento (good understanding) talking with Andean people in different situations. A woman (30, AC in the Dist. Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba) told me that:
'To arrange pretty, it is that between them there is an understanding. They apologise to each other'.
For the women in a Mother's Club (Prov. Calca):
'This means to keep living together without beating'.
The 'pretty arrangement' is the expected end in any kind of forum, even if it is just between the couple' although it presents more formalities when the 'amendment' is between the extended family or in front of judges. Peña (1998, p.200) points out that the means to reach a 'pretty arrangement' are dialogue and advice. This can astound people working in domestic violence from a gender perspective since the principle is there is no ground to justify any kind of violence against women. However, observing the dynamic of the 'negotiation' in these cases, we realise how the objective is the real 'amendment' of the situation and not the legitimisation of men's abusive behaviour. This is noticed also by Harris (1994, p.59) and Peña (1998, p.201).
This was the way that a female judge of peace of Pisac dealt with this case: a wife came to the judge to tell her that her husband beat her 'so much', for nothing, he did not even give her a reason to explain his behaviour. Her family had already intervened and 'he apologised' but continued repeating his action. The judge made an appointment for them to attend a 'conciliatory' meeting. The judge started asking the wife to repeat her complaint, after she finished, she asked the husband to explain why he behaved in this way. He said he beat her because he listened to 'gossip' about her and that she did not do anything to stop these gossips, so when he is drunk he remembers. The judge then reprimanded the way that he was behaving claiming that since he compromised with her he had to forget what she was in her past, then she started to explain all the negative effects of beating his wife, her resentfulness and the possible effects on her health that could make her 'a weak and ill woman': 'You have to think of the consequences of your acts' she adds. The judge was appealing to his 'good understanding' to make him aware of what he was doing.
The 'pretty arrangement' involves a kind of negotiation in which, despite just one party being injured, all the people involved are prompt to recognise their responsibilities in the events. This is not just applicable to domestic violence, this pattern is the same in other cases involving physical aggression. For instance, before the judge of Taray (a woman) I witnessed an uncle who had been beaten by his drunk nephew. The uncle accepted the nephew's apologies and promised to offer more moral and economic support to his nephew. Something similar occurred in another case before the judge of Pisac. I witnessed a woman promise not to continue a despising attitude in front of a poorer neighbour who, while drunk, had insulted her and threatened to beat her. He confessed in front of the judge to feeling hurt because of the woman's arrogant attitude toward him and his family, consequently, the woman promised to be more respectful to him.
What is clear from my interviewees is that in the 'pretty arrangement' in domestic violence cases has as its objective stopping the violence. For us as outsiders, it would be difficult to trust in the commitment of a man who merely explains away his action on the grounds of being drunk, but Andean people have confidence in such agreements, including women. This was the case of a woman (aged 30) from an AC in the Dist Chincheros (Prov. Urubamba) that told me that every time that her husband got drunk he accused her of not selling enough products and beat her, when sober he did not even complain verbally. Their relatives intervened and he stopped beating her. He still joined the drinking bout but before going to drink he promises her not to cause her problems. Her husband comes back home 'crying, singing' and goes to sleep in peace.
'To apologise' is a very important step in the 'arrangement' between two parties in conflict. I observed these 'apologies' in my visits to the judges' places. I was surprised by the formality of the event. Judges of peace always finish a conciliatory meeting, in which a written or verbal agreement has been reached, with this 'procedure'. After the parties have signed the agreement or have ended the discussion with a clear commitment by each party, judges request the offender to offer apologies to the other party.
The offender stands up and expresses in detail how ashamed he or she feels for his/her behaviour then acknowledges and values the affectionate relationship that he/she has with the injured person (normally a relative or a neighbour) and that in front of 'Our Lord Jesus Christ' promises not to do it again and 'humbly' asks for forgiveness and sits down. The judge then invites the injured party. She or he expresses how humiliated or injured he/she has felt because of the other party's behaviour especially coming from a person with a 'close link'. She or he reprimands and advises the other party for the sake of their relationship not to do it again, then the offender stands up and both parties give each other a hug. Minutes ago both parties could be arguing bitterly about terms of compensation, or were remembering bitterly the circumstances of the aggression and other offences that happened in the past that have accumulated resent between them, but after the 'apologies', the parties appear to be satisfied and that the conflict looks as if it genuinely 'mended'.
The cycle of aggression-reconciliation has been analysed in the study of domestic violence from a gender perspective. It is understood that a woman is in a way 'seduced' again by her aggressor under the promise of a compensatory love proper of the reconciliatory stage, and that will last until the next beating. Between Andean people the violence does not disrupt the dynamic of the relationship. Most Andean women are not afraid of their husbands when sober, they are afraid of being beaten when they drink. Additionally, there is a conviction that a man's genuine regret of his action could prevent him to being violent when drunk.
The Andean preference for the 'arrangement' (the arreglo ) faces sometimes a great disagreement with the official legal system, especially when the injuries are serious. In the district of Ollantaytambo (Prov. Urubamba), I came across a case from one of the communities of the district. A young man had been seriously injured by his brother when both were drinking heavily during a festivity. The injured brother complained to the judge who, following the formal procedure, sent him to the legal medical examination. The medical examination, performed in the Health Centre, reported more than 10 days of medical resting (that configured the criminal offence of bodily harm). The judge called the parties to explain to them that he was obliged by law to send the case to the criminal judge because it had reached the level of a criminal offence. The injured brother begged the judge not to do it. He just wanted 'to arrange' with his brother. This involved payment for the medicine and some other compromises, and that his brother 'apologise' to him but he did not want his brother sent to the criminal court.
A separation was perceived by my interviewees as a very remote possibility. They told me:
'Most couples keep living together, very few of them separate. And if they do separate it is just for three months and they come back again' (woman 30, AC in the district Chinchero, Prov. Urubamba).
'Despite the beating they keep living together, on very few occasions they split, I guess it will be a 1%. They say this is my luck and in this way they accept it. Just commenting they say. 'It is my husband, I have to cope'. Others say I don't want to cope' and they split. Others say even if he kills me I am not going to separate' (woman, 46, AC in the Dist. San Sebastian, Prov. Cusco).
In some cases the 'pretty arrangement' is not followed by the husbands, and in many cases it takes more than one 'pretty arrangement' to see any real change. The wife in the case of the couple who went to the Pisac judge had the intention of separating from her partner. She thought that he was not going to change since he had apologised before for his behaviour in front of his relatives and although he stopped for some time, he had started to beat her again. After the judge's intervention, the wife insisted on returning to her parent's home at least for a period of time to evaluate whether the husband really had the intention to change his attitude. After some weeks I knew from the same judge that they had got back together and so far she had not heard of any problem between them. They were still together three months later when I left the zone and the judge knew that they were living 'well' now.
The case of a woman (aged 25) from the Dist. Pisac (Prov. Calca) was different. She had been in the court twice already and everybody, starting from the judge had advised her to separate that her husband was not going to change. She explained to me that she still continues with him because doctors told her that he is ill and have warned him to leave the alcohol. She feels safe when he is not drinking. It is also reported by my interviewees and by Harris (1994) in her work, that women faced maltreatment from their husbands in the first years of their cohabitation or marriage but in one way or another the violence has stopped and they are able to live together in peace.
Consequently, when a woman goes to a 'forum' her wishes are for her husband to change. This will be the 'ideal' as women in a Mothers Club (Prov. Calca) expressed to me. Case files confirm this situation. This is when a woman turns to a judge most of them want a 'good understanding' with her husband. This differs from the attitude of urban women who when they reach the legal system, they really intend to end their relationship. For instance, in the Women's Police Station of Lima 41.8% of women expressed a desire for separation while just a 9.9% were looking for their husbands to change their attitude (Estremadoyro, 1995). This does not mean that all these women manage to separate but that they were convinced that the only alternative to their situation was to finish their relationship. Instead Andean women evaluate the judge's place as another forum in which it is possible to go for a 'pretty arrangement' because they do not have close relatives or because they are giving it a 'last' try after the relative's intervention failed.
Anthropologists like Harris (1994, p.48) suggest that the 'generic status of wife-beating' in Andean communities 'is hard to evaluate'. There are some men who beat their wives, and there are many women who have faced beatings by their husband's at some point in their relationship. However, at least at discursive level, wife beating is highly disapproved and explanations narrow down to the fact that most men (my interviewees would say almost all of them) beat when they are drunk.
Andean men do not have an overt attitude to use violence to 'keep women in their place'. It appears that men need to hide their intentions and resentfulness under the excuse of drunkenness, culturally supported as a state of alienation, in such a way that most men who beat when drunk feel very ashamed the following morning exonerating themselves in front of their wives for the fact of being drunk: 'I don't know what got into me'. In an analysis of domestic violence from a gender perspective, the 'drunkenness' would be just a 'contingent explanation' for a typical expression of gender hierarchy (Harris, 1994, p.52) . In Andean communities, it is more difficult to disregard it because it gives the strongest explanation to understand the tolerance of domestic violence occurring in such a state. In this sense, Harvey (1994, p.66) goes further concluding that Andean women although they complain and fight back against physical attacks by their husbands, 'do not make them directly responsible for the violence'.
This essay has not attempted to provide explanations for the existence of domestic violence in Andean communities but rather to find out if domestic violence is a ground for complaint and in which forums this complaint is carried out. This enquiry reveals that the decisions to seek alternatives to face domestic violence are deeply individual and depend entirely on the woman's tolerance of the violence. Attending a forum is entirely at a woman's discretion, as to how much she can 'cope' with. In this sense, our interviewees are in agreement that most incidents of domestic violence are resolved between the couple. However, if incidents are repeated, it is a common practise to ask the relatives to intervene. This is the 'first forum' of intervention and although in my fieldwork it did not show a formal and strict pattern, it is considered very important. Parents and godparents, would use 'dialogue and advice' to make both sides enter into a 'good understanding' which in cases of domestic violence has the objective of preventing the continuation of this attitude by the husband. Sometimes relatives can intervene without even being called by the same women. Another important aspect revealed is that communal organisations are not a forum for domestic violence problems. Consequently, if there are no relatives or these fail in preventing the violence, women will go to the judges of the peace for help. At the judge's place, the high expectation of women is to prevent their husbands from beating them, in only a few cases will women go to the judge looking for separation.
Andean people do believe in 'arrangement' and 'restoration' and my interviewees gave evidence that the interventions of relatives and judges had worked with husbands who become violent when drunk. There is also the evidence that when some of them stopped drinking, for instance through conversion to the Evangelist Church, the violence stopped too.
There are some paradoxes in the situation of domestic violence in Andean communities, however, it has not been an objective of this work to resolve them but rather to acknowledge the way in which Andean women perceive domestic violence and understand it should be resolved.
1. Gender violence refers to all acts of violence or abuse that women suffer for the fact of 'being women', as a consequence of their subordinate position in society. It includes the most diverse types of gender-based abuse such as domestic violence, rape, women trafficking, genital mutilation, sexual harassment and death by dowry amongst others (Bunch, 1995).
2. Beijing Platform of Action, Strategic Objective D.1. In June 2000, in New York, General Assembly celebrated 23rd special session entitled 'Women: 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the twenty-first Century' to evaluate the government commitment of Beijing after 5 years of agreement on the Platform of Action.
3. There is a wide literature on the subject. Gaete (1995) summarised the main arguments in debate. Esteva and Prakash (1998) are an example of a critical position of the whole issue of Human Rights and Santos (1995, 1998) supports some of these critics but believes in the emancipatory capacity of the international human rights activism.
4. This a simplification of a debate that has different expressions. For instance, black feminists in the United States reflect on the experiences of the oppression of black women as substantially different to those of the white American women (Barnett, 1998, p.192, Parpart, 1994, p.6, Waylen, 1996, p. 8). Others like Chandra Mohanty (1996) challenging the notion of 'third world women' as an undifferentiated 'other', 'oppressed by their gender and the third world underdevelopment', that appear in the narrative of Western feminists. Third world women are presented 'uniformly poor, without power and vulnerable' whilst Western feminists hold a self-image of 'modern, educated and sexually liberated women'. They are the 'role model' and their recipes circulated as the right way of doing things in relation to the liberation of women, particularly, of third world women (Parpart, 1994, p.6-7). The term 'intersectionality' is used by Crenshaw (1994).
5 . Protective measures include to apply to the judge (or prosecutors) to forbid any visits of the agressor to the family home or to order the aggressor to leave the family home, amongst other measures that the judge consider relevant to protect the victims.
6. The Justicia of the peace is an institution which has its origin in colonial times. Judges of the peace are divided into two kinds of magistrates. The letrado (professional) and the no letrado (non professional). The main difference between them is the setting in which they operate. The first one is an urban judge the second a rural one. The letrado judge is a lawyer, paid and appointed in those cities which are sites of the Superior Courts. The main reason for its creation was to ease the work load of the specialised courts. Consequently, there are no substantial differences in the nature of these judges with others in superior positions in the judicial hierarchy. The no letrado judges, instead, are a localised, non profesionalised and unpaid magistrates.
7. As I proved when I re-visited some judges of the Peace in January 2001.
8. The official denomination of the Andean Communities in Peru is 'Peasant Communities'. The term 'Andean communities' is preferred by some anthropologists like Ossio (1992, 1995) because it highlights communities' identities as members of larger ethnic and cultural groups located in the Andes mountains.
9. Harvey (1994) and Harris (1994) rethink the issue of domestic violence within Andean culture based on their data taken in the 1980s. Both fieldworks did not have as an objective the study of domestic violence, consequently there was not a methodology designed specifically to raise the issue. In relation to the Peruvian studies, it is only in this last decade that it is possible to find a sustained publication on 'gender' issues in rural zones. Reports like Casos (1990) and Villasante (1990 ) in the context of development projects bring important information about the women's lives in their communities. References to domestic violence appear but they are very marginal and are not articulated into a discussion on the issue.
10. Peru is politically divided into 'departments' which are divided into 'provinces'. Provinces are divided into districts. Cusco has 13 provinces.
11. This data form part of the fieldwork research of my PhD thesis (Estremadoyro, 2000). The original body of data included scrutiny of judges records, questionnaires, observation of conflict resolution, participant observation and a number of interviews with other legal agents and state and NGOs officers as well a review of documentary and secondary data. As this paper will be circulated electronically I make minimum references to the identity and exact location of my respondents out of respect for the confidentiality in which these personal stories were entrusted to me.
12. 23 were district judges and two were judges appointed in specific Andean communities (these kind of judges are an exception) from the 7 provinces that I visited.
15. AC = Andean Community. The 'Andean communities' in this study were all officially recognised 'peasant communities'. See note 7. I intentionally omit the exact name of my respondents' communities, see note 12.
17. Bernardino de Cardenas in 1630 pointed out about 'drunk husbands' maltreating their wives (Saignes, 1993, p.51) and Huaman Poma de Ayala mentioned this event in the sixteenth century (Pease, 1980, II, 804).
18. People who refuse to drink in communal festivities can be very badly thought of by the rest of the group since to drink is part of ritual to pay homage to saints and earth for good crops. Harris (1994) and Harvey (1994) reported the danger of isolation and even risk of expulsion that non drinkers in Andean communities faced.
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