Seventeen years after SRT grantees DEMUS and CLADEM first filed a petition to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, on behalf of a young Peruvian girl, the state of Peru has offered her a public apology. The petition challenged the refusal of Peruvian public health officials to offer seventeen-year-old K.L., a therapeutic abortion after her 14-week foetus was diagnosed with anencephaly in 2001. Her baby died four days after delivery. Although Peruvian law allows for abortion when the life of the mother is threatened, K.L. was denied an abortion due to a lack of clear regulations. In 2005, the UNHRC ruled that denying access to therapeutic abortion is a violation of Peru’s domestic laws. This was the first time an international human rights body held a government accountable for failing to ensure access to legal abortion.
“I express public apologies for a State reluctant to fulfil its responsibilities, for not acting, for not defending you – a girl yesterday and a woman today. How many more K.L. are we going to allow? It takes a change in public policies, which awakens attitudes towards life in hearts and conscience; it means committing ourselves to girls, adolescents and women, which does not mean bureaucracy or taking responsibility away from us. The human rights of women cannot be left pending,” Minister of Justice, Vicente Zevallos, said during a public ceremony marking International Women’s Day.
Return to grantee stories