Home Institution

University of Maryland

Publication Date

Fall 12-2-2014

Program Name

Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization


Violence against women is a social problem that demands much attention from society because it is a human rights issue and is damaging to the mental health status of women. The purpose of this investigation is to use an ethnographic approach to analyze the perceptions of women who have suffered from domestic violence to determine how perceptions of domestic violence impact subsequent mental health outcomes. Women (n=6) were recruited from the NGO Amhauta, an educational program that advocates for the rights of women and children in San Jerónimo, a district of Cusco, Peru. This analysis uses an ethnographic approach to examine both the perceptions of these abused women, and how these perceptions affect the mental health status of affected women through the use of in-depth interviews, surveys, and direct observation. These themes, surveys, and observations were approached using three theoretical approaches: important definitions relating to violence against women, psychosocial theories about cultural perceptions of gender and violence, and criteria of mental disorders from the DSM-V. Five recurring themes emerged from the interviews relating to the perceptions of the women about their experiences with domestic violence: alcohol abuse, economic problems, machismo, lack of respect for the woman, and problems with mental health. These perceptions of violence affect the mental health outcomes of the women. However, while these women are all suffering from depression (mean=16.17 on a scale of 0 to 27), PTSD (mean=34.17 with the cutoff at 14), and generalized anxiety disorder (mean=13 on a scale of 0 to 21), Amhauta is affecting their lives in a positive way by increasing their levels of independence through receiving microcredits and sharing their experiences of violence with each other. This investigation suggests that violence against women is a major social problem in Peru, and Amhauta is not only helping the women, but also raising awareness of the issue. This work suggests the need for more organizations like Amhauta to reduce mental health disparities in Peruvian women suffering from domestic violence.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Health and Physical Education | Health Psychology | International and Area Studies | Latin American Studies | Women's Health | Women's Studies


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