Lobbying leaders in our home countries to support such policies abroad is a powerful tool. The Sepur Zarco case shows how seriously a community can be affected for decades, even centuries, by multiple overlapping injustices – from colonial-era crimes to more recent human rights violations. In February 2016, Guatemalan women survivors and the alliance of organisations supporting them successfully prosecuted two former members of the Guatemalan military for domestic and sexual slavery in the groundbreaking Sepur Zarco trial. The trial marked the first time a national court has prosecuted members of its own military for these crimes.
They don’t look after the rural areas and the extreme poverty we live in. The women range in age from their 20s to their 70s, face different challenges, and are fighting for different goals. Some say they want to end the cycle of violence within their families; others that they have political aspirations and dream of one day becoming local mayors. Successive governments have done little to deliver justice or economic power to these women, and impunity has helped to normalise sexual violence. According to UN Women, the rate of impunity for femicide remains at around 98 percent.
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In 2016, a court in Guatemala ordered two former military officers to pay over $1m (£710,000) to 11 indigenous women whom they held as sex slaves during the civil war. Many survivors are adolescent girls, leading to Guatemala having the highest teen pregnancy and preteen pregnancy rates in Latin America. Girls as young as 10 years old are impregnated by rape, and they usually carry these pregnancies to birth. Most of these instances of sexual violence are perpetrated by the girl’s father or other close male relative (89%). These men do not suffer consequences largely because of the lack of education, poverty, and lack of social respect for women. According to photo activist Linda Forsell, most young girls face expulsion from school if they are visibly pregnant. There are about 10,000 cases of reported rape per year, but the total number is likely much higher because of under-reporting due to social stigma.
The following is Rosalina’s witness as to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women from indigenous communities. It distills a lengthier account that describes the many vulnerabilities women in these regions and communities face and the ways in which their entrepreneurial spirit supports them. It highlights CONAVIGUA’s initiatives that support climate smart farming and crafts, health, and sexy girls in Guatemala nutrition, and details the ways in which the COVID-19 emergency undermines the welfare of Mayan communities. A small country located within Central America, south of Mexico, Guatemala has one of the highest rates of femicide globally. Femicide is a threat against women’s rights in Guatemala, where femicide results in the killing of women for the sole reason that the person is female.
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In May 2016, the organisation took a motion to Guatemala’s constitutional court, seeking protection for indigenous textiles. In November of the same year, it proposed a legislative reform to existing laws, such as copyright industrial property laws, to allow Mayan people to be recognised as owners of their designs. A grassroots Guatemalan organisation, the Asociación Femenina para el Desarrollo de Sacatepéquez , is helping Rodríguez and other women fight back by campaigning for collective intellectual property rights for Mayan textile designs. But she said she wanted to go back home one last time to sell her remaining „animalitos“ — little animals — so she would have some cash to start a new life. ■ The lack of access to education that translates to no job prospects and to poverty. But for most Guatemalan women in the same situation, migration is not a solution, or even an option. Most lack the resources for the expensive trip north, and the lengthy litigation later — and often are simply too caught up in the violence to react.
- Since 2008 ALIANMISAR, together with Ministry of Health authorities, has advocated for improved quality, availability, and accessibility of culturally appropriate health services .
- To win asylum in the United States, applicants must show specific grounds for their persecution back home, like their race, religion, political affiliation or membership in a particular social group.
- Indigenous Maya women in Guatemala show some of the worst maternal health indicators worldwide.
- A large part of them are religious; however, they act as they want, say what they want, and wear what they want.
“The poverty in Guatemala affects women most and hardest, especially indigenous women,” said Antonia Batz, 40, a midwife in Tecpan. “We are discriminated against one, because we are poor, second, because we are indigenous and because we are women,” Victoria Cumes Jochola, coordinator of Nuestra Voz, or Our Voice rights group, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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To this day, many Maya people do not have title to the land they live on, much of which is dominated by plantations growing coffee, sugar, bananas and palms for oil. And yet, two years later, the Guatemalan government has not carried out most of the collective reparations measures ordered by the court. In large part this is because the main cause of the violence – a dispute over land that historically belonged to the Maya Q’eqchi people – has still not been resolved, even centuries after it began. This situation makes it even more necessary to continue, reinforce, and expand this project in order to recognize fundamental rights for migrant and refugee women that should never have been annulled.
We are distributing food packages and emergency cash transfers in vulnerable communities, with a focus on women and girls, people with disabilities, the elderly, single-parent households and survivors of gender-based violence. The women of CONAVIGUA, as survivors of genocide, are especially concerned by legal measures the Guatemalan government has taken in the last few months. For example, they announced on April 1 that both the Department of Peace and the Department of Women would close. Women worry about the lack of medical infrastructure and protective equipment for public health personnel in hospitals that treat COVID-infected patients. Rising violence is another pressing concern for them, with an increase in armed assaults and murders. The murder of scientist Domingo Choc Che, an indigenous man who was researching medicinal plants, saddened indigenous people across Guatemala.