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Women seek justice for Chilean dictatorship rapes

Published:Friday | December 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

SANTIAGO (AP):

Four women who say they were sexually tortured as political prisoners following Chile's 1973 military coup have filed a complaint they hope will bring to light dictatorship-era rapes that have been buried by fear, shame and silence.

The allegations were made in a complaint filed in May, and the women gave their testimony to Chilean judge Mario Carroza this week.

They are being allowed to raise the decades-old charges because of international human rights accords recently signed by Chile, said Carroza, a specialist in crimes against humanity who is presiding over the case.

Harsher Sentences

The women also are pressing Chile to update its 140-year-old penal code to classify the rape of political prisoners and torture as political crimes, which would subject violators to harsher sentences than currently allowed.

"We demand that the Chilean government, that the authorities, the state, change the laws and accept that this sort of sexual torture exists," Nieves Ayress, 66, an educator and community activist now living in New York, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Ayress was a 25-year-old socialist activist when she was detained in 1974, along with her father and 15-year-old brother. Upon her release in 1976, she was forced into exile.