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Americas: Women and girls who flee Venezuela are unprotected against gender-based violence and discrimination

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Gender-based violence has a heightened impact on Venezuelan women and girls who seek international protection, after fleeing massive human rights violations in their home country, warned Amnesty International today on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

“While countries across the Americas have an obligation to protect all Venezuelans who seek safety in their territories, it is women and girls who are at disproportionate risk from violence and discrimination. States have a pressing duty to ensure a gender-sensitive response to those seeking protection,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“The entire international community needs to take ownership of the second largest human mobility crisis in the world, as per the international principle of shared responsibility. Civil society organizations, human rights defenders and international organizations provide much needed relief to Venezuelans in the most precarious situations, but states must guarantee their human rights are protected, particularly of those who are most vulnerable to violence and discrimination, such as women and girls.”

Amnesty International recently partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a two-year project to support the protection of women, girls and people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, responding to the urgent needs of Venezuelans seeking protection.

In Peru, one of the main host countries of Venezuelans, Amnesty International’s research shows how migrant and refugee women face gender-based violence and discrimination on a daily basis, which is often reinforced by having an irregular migratory status in the country, including pending asylum claims that seem endlessly stalled. Having interviewed survivors of gender-based violence, human rights defenders and public authorities, the organization confirmed how Venezuelan women suffer harassment at the workplace, on the streets and in educational centers; sexual blackmail to sustain jobs or homes; physical and psychological abuse; and a constant fear of being returned to Venezuela.

While gender-based violence affects women of all nationalities, whether Venezuelan, Peruvian, or Colombian, and the official reporting channels are the same for all, migrant and refugee women predominantly from Venezuela face additional challenges to access justice, protection and support. These include discrimination based on their nationality; stereotyped comments that hypersexualize them by state agents who are supposed to protect them; a lack of information; and a fear of reprisals, such as deportation, that often discourage them from reporting violence against them.

Amnesty International urges the Peruvian authorities to strengthen efforts to build capacity of public officers on the prohibition of discrimination based on gender, migration and other status, and to ensure that they are aware of existing legal mechanisms to attend survivors of gender-based violence without a regular migratory status in the country. In addition, it is essential that authorities widely disseminate information on the rights of migrant and refugee women to access justice, protection and support services regardless of their immigration status.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Duncan Tucker at duncan.tucker@amnesty.org