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Much to my surprise, the Peruvian society consists of a distinct and diverse culture, one, which would not be envisioned for the current twenty-first century. It is a society in which I, as an American, look at as unusual and peculiar. This course has opened my eyes to something way beyond my comprehension of a society living today.

In the article I have found describing Peru as ?A State of Decay?, I discovered what the ideal Peruvian family lives like in today?s society. Until the 1950?s, most rural families in Peru lived in one-room houses. These houses were built from twigs and the roofs were made of grass or palm thatch. Those who lived in the cities lived in overcrowded and unsanitary slums. By the 1950?s, most families moved out of these slums and into something called squatter homes. These squatter homes were built from cardboard, old metal, and other scraps they were able to find. This way of living was in some way for the good since by living in their squatter homes, there was no charge for rent. Therefore, whatever money these people made was saved up for the eventual building of their own home. The government encouraged this way of living and helped them by providing running water and sewage systems. Food was rare in Peru for these low class families, and therefore, people began chewing on leaves of cocaine in order to relieve their hunger pains.

Another example of what I found to be a part of the bizarre Peruvian culture, is the idea of these two types of Peruvian women, better known as Beatas and Tapadas. The beata was usually a single woman who bestowed her life to the church and all religious responsibilities. According to the common people, the beata was a person endowed with special gifts, and power to whom one could turn to for religious and supernatural help. The beata was a woman with high moral character, and was regarded with much respect and admiration.

The tapada, on the other hand, was a worldly woman. She was dressed in the latest fashions and her clothes were made of the best and most expensive materials. Her clothes were worn in a fashion to draw attention to herself. The distinctive feature of the tapada was the long veil or shawl worn on her upper body. She would wear this shawl in a very flirtatious style arousing the interests of the males around her. The shawl was worn over her head partially revealing one eye. The tapada would use her shawl in a very provocative and teasing manner, possibly lifting the edges of her shawl and revealing her sensuous mouth, or letting her shawl drop slightly around her shoulders. The tapada used the shawl as a way of letting loose, doing what she pleased without being recognized. The idea of beatas and tapadas are very foreign to me and it amazes me that these things go on in today?s society.

I found in the article, ?Retreat from Utopia?, a description of a typical Peruvian marriage. ?Throughout their marriage, the partners retain a rough equality, though, ideally, wives are held subordinate to husbands?. Anything the woman owns when coming into the marriage remains hers. If a woman brings her own land into the marriage, it remains hers and her husband may farm it for her, but the proceeds gained from it belong to her. In case of divorce, whatever is shared is divided equally among the two partners. If one of the partners dies, his property is divided among the children. In the home, the woman is involved in making the decisions and she can voice her own opinions.

Health in Peru is a very severe situation, especially when it comes to women in childbirth. Most women give birth without having seen a doctor throughout their entire pregnancy. Usually midwives are the only ones in attendance during childbirth. The risk during childbirth has little to do with the fact that there is no doctor present. It has more to do with the fact that pregnant women continue their work in the fields and in the household. Another factor in the frequent complications during childbirth is the fact that these mothers are often no older than age 15. ?The most serious health problem faced by Peruvian women is indisputably that of controlling and spacing births. 80% of all women say that they have more children then they desired to have?(author unknown, pg. 6).

In conclusion, I have learned a great deal about the lives of Peruvian families. I am partly shocked by what I?ve learned yet I find it interesting learning about other societies and how they live each and every day.

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