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This report summarizes the study’s findings, in addition to offering recommendations to the Guatemalan and United States governments on how to protect women and children in Guatemala from gender-based violence. The abuelas fought for justice and reparations not only for themselves, but for change that would benefit the entire community. The Q’eqchi leaders of the area were seeking legal rights to their land at the time. The military retaliated with forced disappearance, torture and killing of indigenous men, and rape and slavery of the women.

Watch Guatemalan Women’s Association’s World Justice Challenge project pitch and join WJP’s World Justice Challenge 2021 Community Forumto ask questions to project representatives, explore additional resources, meet new colleagues, and more. Join the discussion and help us build stronger rule of law values, institutions, and communities around the world. After studying in Paris, Carlos Mérida relocated to Mexico and began to create watercolors depicting the rural, indigenous people of his native Guatemala. This drawing shows one such subjects—a group of women at work in a rocky landscape. The artist uses flat areas of color and simple forms influenced by Cubist art he studied in Europe. Mérida hoped to develop a new audience and an appreciation for his native culture through such modern images. By donating to the Women’s Justice Initiative, you’re directly investing in generational change that will transform vulnerable communities.

Violence can escalate to femicide – the nation has one of the highest rates in the world – with at least two women violently killed every day, according to the United Nations. Some eight million indigenous people live in Guatemala, most descendants of the Mayan civilization that once dominated Central America. “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. TECPAN, Guatemala – An indigenous woman in Guatemala is more likely than all her fellow citizens to be sick, illiterate, poor and overwhelmed by too many unplanned children. Guatemala has been through a lot of upheaval as a country in the past century.

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While there have been some major steps forward that have created the conditions for women such as the Sepur Zarco abuelas to be empowered and to speak up, with actual judicial consequences, there is still a long way to go, and there are still sectors of society that remain voiceless. As the article has shown, the problem of gender-based violence in Latin America is one that needs continued international attention and immediate action. This will help in shedding light on such barbaric practices, and in finding ways to overcome them. Such high degrees of violence can be traced back to the culture of machismo that is characteristic of the LAC region.

  • backed by the United States, gendered violence, and an ongoing land grab on Indigenous territory.
  • “We live here in a state that is incapable of protecting its women and where the political will to do so is lacking. This is compounded by the way society is so pervaded by machismo that violence against women is often not reported,” she said.
  • After kidnapping and disappearing the men and burning down their families’ huts, the military forced their wives to work on the military detachment built in the Sepur Zarco community, in 1982.
  • In 2016, she toured the United States and performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York, during the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues.

The leaders of both The Angélica Fuentes Foundation and Girl Up stated that their main goal of pushing for a higher marriage age was to aid the children in Guatemala. Young girls often would be forced to give up their education and be constricted to a life devoted to marriage, however with the marriage age raised young women would be free to pursue other interests. The leader of The Angélica Fuentes Foundation states that it is her hope that this initiative promotes gender equality and an increase in opportunity for young girls in Guatemala, as well as in other Latin American countries. In 2008, the Procurador de los Derechos Humanos was created, which is an agency that operates with the intention of enforcing citizens’ cooperation with human rights laws.

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This, in turn, reduced the likelihood that many women could leave abusive situations or afford the high costs of pursuing justice, and ensured that the institutions to which they could turn would be under-resourced. In this view, reforms that are not focused on VAW, such as tax reform, land redistribution, and increases in social spending, are necessary to reduce women’s exposure to violence and to increase their effective access to justice.

It is estimated that 7% of girls are married before 15 years of age and 30% by 18 years of age. Rates are even higher in rural areas where 53% of females are married before they are 18. Some reasons for early marriage is poverty, rigid gender norms, access to education, and tradition.

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Throughout this turbulent time, women have emerged as inspirational leaders. Here are some of the most influential Guatemalan women to learn about. Paula Barrios, who heads Mujeres Transformando el Mundo explained that the indigenous communities living around the area believed that more than 200 men were brought here and never seen again. Following a brief restoration of civilian rule under President César Méndez, military-backed Carlos Arana is elected as President. Violence against guerilla groups and indigenous communities escalate.

“She survived and was brought to Guatemala City where she is being treated for her injuries. But her husband would not let go – he sent his father to her bedside to threaten her so that she didn’t report the attack to the courts.” Mack believes they redirected their aggression towards their wives, mothers and girlfriends – a culture of violence towards women and an expectation of impunity, which still persists today, developed.

Thousands of women in Guatemala make their living by weaving textiles and selling them to “middle men” who then sell textiles in regional markets. This level of poverty leads to malnourished children and lack of opportunity for children, particularly girls, to get an education.

Later, the evolution of the political situation and the emergence of different perspectives on the struggle for human rights brought about the appearance of new groups like the Relatives of Guatemalan Disappeared. What began with mutual support and making accusations grew to encompass the investigation of massacres, being present at exhumations, and the demand for justice and compensation. During the years of armed conflict, women put their traditional roles aside, becoming the backbone of their families and communities. As the breadwinners on whom their family’s survival depended, women were responsible for supporting and caring for the children, old people and the sick. Often, this was assumed while being forced to move to other communities, fleeing to the mountains or finding refuge in Mexico with children and relatives. Half of the testimonies taken during the elaboration of the report were from women, but as they told their stories they did not specifically focus on their experience as women.