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Bolivia – Submission to the Human Rights Committee – 134th Session February – March 2022

This submission expresses our concerns about sexual violence laws and procedures in Bolivia that deny justice to survivors and constitute a violation of Bolivia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Summary of Recommendations:

Force-Based Definition of Rape

Ensure that the definition of rape is amended so that it is not based on a requirement to prove force, but rather covers all forms of penetration with a body part or object committed without the victim’s voluntary, genuine, and willing consent, and in a wide range of coercive circumstances.


Repeal the estupro provision contained in Article 309 of the Penal Code. Repeal of discriminatory estupro provisions must be accompanied by a complete overhaul of sexual violence laws including adopting a consent-based definition of rape, to ensure that adolescent girls are protected from sexual violence in all circumstances.

Statute of Limitations

Ensure that the prosecution of rape, in cases of both adult and minor victims, is not subject to any period of limitation in any circumstances, whether carried out in times of peace or conflict.

Lack of Effective Implementation of Existing Laws and Barriers to Survivors Accessing Justice and Protection

Effectively implement laws on sexual violence, including by training justice system officials, including police, prosecutors and judges, to specifically deal with cases of sexual violence in a victim-centered and trauma-informed way and implement investigation and prosecution protocols to guide implementation of sexual violence legislation and processing of such cases in the judicial system. Ensure that such protocols also specifically address the needs of marginalized communities.

UPDATE – March, 2022: From March 8 to 10, 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Committee examined the human rights situation in Bolivia. María del Carmen Arandia Martínez, a survivor of sexual violence, spoke on behalf of the Coalition to eliminate sexual violence against women, girls and adolescents in Bolivia.

The UN Human Rights Committee published its findings on the Plurinational State of Bolivia, after reviewing the country during its latest session:

UPDATE – April, 2022: Civil society organizations working on human rights and Equality Now signed a joint press statement, highlighting some of the recommendations made by the Committee to be considered of fundamental importance:

Submitted by:

  • Equality Now: an international human rights NGO with ECOSOC status with the mission to achieve legal and systemic change that addresses violence and discrimination against all women and girls around the world. Founded in 1992, Equality Now is a global organization with partners and supporters in every region. Ending sexual violence, ending sexual exploitation, ending harmful practices and achieving legal equality are the main areas of Equality Now’s work.
  • The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights – CLADEM Bolivia is a network of feminist activists that develops its actions at the national level using different expertise by undertaking legislative proposals, research, training, national and international litigation, internal monitoring of the State and government to ensure compliance with regional and international instruments on human rights and education in academic fields related to the defense of women’s rights. The National Coordinator of CLADEM Bolivia is Patricia Brañez Cortez, with CI 2047386 LP.
  • The Legal Office of Women (La Oficina Jurídica de la Mujer) is a non-governmental development organization based in Bolivia whose specialty is the defense of women’s rights from a social and gender legal perspective. It is a pioneer in the reference, monitoring, education and promotion of human rights, and using a sociopolitical perspective, seeks to influence policies related to women.
  • The Human Rights Community (Comunidad de Derechos Humanos) is a group of civil society organizations based in Bolivia that have a feminist vision of democracy which includes social justice and gender equality that guarantees the full validity of human rights, in particular of women, girls, boys, adolescents and the LGBTI population. They develop capacities of guarantors and subjects of rights, construct proposals, generate information and promote the use of international mechanisms, as well as public accountability for human rights issues.
  • A Breeze of Hope Foundation (ABH) engages in regional and international advocacy to prevent sexual violence and improve access to justice and healing for child survivors of sexual violence throughout Latin America with a special focus on Bolivia.
  • The Fundación una Brisa de Esperanza (FUBE) is Bolivia’s premier center for child survivors of sexual violence. Since 2004, FUBE has provided free legal, social, and psychological services to child survivors of sexual violence and their non-offending, supportive family members. FUBE also engages is sexual violence awareness and prevention activities in
    Bolivia, as well as national legal reform efforts.
  • The Network of Girls, Boys and Adolescents Against Sexual Violence (NNAS COVISE Network) is an activist group that conducts awareness-raising activities on sexual violence and encourages all girls, boys and adolescents who are experiencing sexual violence to break the silence, denounce and prosecute their aggressors so that their right to health can be restored.
  • The Family Foundation Healthy (FAMISAL) works in Bolivia for the construction of a society that has families who are trained and equipped to take care of issues relating to their health, where children and especially infants play a central role in enjoying appropriate conditions for their development.