Why a missing B.C. woman is now a face in the fight for Peruvian gender justice
This is part three of an exclusive series in which Global BC travelled to Peru to learn more about the disappearance of Kimberlee Kasatkin.
Kimberlee Kasatkin is now a face in the fight for gender justice in Peru.
“Every woman has a story so we don’t have any Jane Doe’s here,” said Peruvian woman’s rights activist Silvana García. “In Ni Una Menos, no one is anonymous.”
Activists like with García with Ni Una Menos – meaning “Not One Less” – are demanding a fair trial for Kasatkin.
The B.C. woman disappeared two years ago. Her partner – Christopher Franz Bettocchi – has been charged with femicide – the killing of a woman.
A woman is killed every three days on average in Peru. Kasatkin is one of thousands of women Ni Una Menos marches for.
WATCH: Parents of missing B.C. woman travel to Peru in search of justice
Eyvi Agreda was set on fire on a bus in Lima in April because she refused her co-worker’s advances.
The 22-year-old’s injuries were so severe she died in June.
WATCH: Global BC travels to Peru to probe case of missing B.C. woman
Femicide, the killing of a woman, is a unique charge in the criminal code in Peru. It was enacted in 2013. Femicide carries a higher penalty than homicide. It’s very different than Canada, where murder is murder, it’s gender neutral.
“A society can’t be democratic if we don’t respect women,” said Peruvian Supreme Court Justice Elvia Barrios Alvarado. In an exclusive interview with Global News, the judge said women are being killed because of macho beliefs entrenched in Peruvian society, where women are considered inferior and they need to obey.
“Of course, [a] woman’s death has [a] higher sentence. This is a message for all the men that mistreat women, that any act will be penalized,” Barrios Alvarado said with conviction.
Violence against women is an epidemic in Latin America, where femicide is now a crime in at least 14 countries. In Peru, femicide-related cases are up almost 40 per cent compared to a year ago.
According to Justice Barrios Alvarado, there have already been 445 cases this year alone, compared to 325 in all of last year.
Human Rights Watch reports that 382 Peruvian women were victims of femicide or attempted femicide in 2016. It said 54 people were convicted of the crime between January 2015 and March 2016.
While there’s been an evolution of the law, impunity prevails say activists.
“We can not say it’s working,” said human rights lawyer, Violeta Barrientos.
“Corruption remains inside the judicial system, between the judges, the police.”
“It’s cheaper here to buy a judge than to obtain justice. It’s very easy,” García added.
WATCH: Peru custody fight for missing B.C. woman’s children
Kimberlee Kasatkin’s body has never been found. The whereabouts of the accused is unknown. A warrant has been issued for Bettocchi’s arrest.
Her parents, who’ve travelled to Peru looking for answers, know what they’re up against but they have fortitude.
“If he is hiding from this, he’s not going to be just sitting and relaxing on a beach,” said Kasatkin’s father Al, “He’ll always be looking over his shoulder somewhere and someday his justice will come to him.”
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