Date of Completion

Spring 5-4-2015

Thesis Advisor(s)

Anne Gebelein

Honors Major

Latino and Latin American Studies

Second Honors Major



Health Policy | Latin American Studies | Other Political Science


This paper examines the way in which gendered violence is carried out as a way for the formal state and the Catholic Church to negotiate power. While examples of a much larger trend, three Latin American countries are discussed in detail. The first case occurred in Nicaragua, where a 9-year-old victim of rape was denied an abortion by both the state and the Church. The second case examined is the use of rape as a torture tactic by the military junta in Argentina during the Dirty War from 1976 to 1983. The final case examined is that of the forced sterilizations of indigenous women in Peru under the regime of Alberto Fujimori. Through these three case studies, two different power dynamics are assessed. The first, in the cases of Nicaragua and Argentina, is a collaborative claim to power in which the Church and the state work together and use the female body to legitimize shared power. The second, in the case of Peru, is that in which one of the two power structures lays claim to exclusive power and aims to legitimize that power through exertions of control over female reproduction.