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Changes in Peru’s penal code will enable more young people to access HIV services

UNAIDS | 2-12-2013

The Constitutional Tribunal of Peru is amending an article in its penal code which for many years had criminalized consensual sexual activity among young people. Sentencing was particularly severe with adolescents facing up to 30 years in prison. Article 173 of the penal code was also preventing young people from accessing essential health and reproductive services for fear of prosecution.

Under the revised penal code young people between the age of 14 and 18 years old will be able to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights providing the two parties are consenting. Non-consensual sexual relations will still constitute a crime in Peru with lengthy sentencing for people found guilty.

"The Constitutional Tribunal ruling generates a protective effect in relation to adolescents, because it provides them with greater access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as guidance and information to avoid sexually transmitted infections, including HIV," said Mima Barnechea from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In 2012, UNFPA and UNAIDS presented a formal request before the Constitutional Tribunal advocating for the declaration of unconstitutionality of Article 173. This process was part of a wider effort particularly from the Office of Peru’s Ombudsman, Eduardo Vega Luna as well as legal demands presented before the Tribunal by more than 10 000 Peruvian citizens.

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