Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, September 15, 2006

More Than 2500 Women Killed in Guatemala

At a Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing yesterday put on in collaboration with Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America, actress Samantha Mathis spoke out against the Guatemalan government’s inadequate efforts to end a recent epidemic of brutal killings of women that is taking place in the country. She cited available data putting the number of women who have been killed in Guatemala just this year at four hundred. In the last five years the number of women murdered in Guatemala is set at more than 2500. What is more disturbing is the brutality with which these crimes are carried out. Many women are kidnapped, and this bodies show signs of rape, torture, mutilation and dismemberment. The nature of these crimes is so heinous that the term femicide, killing women for the sole motive that they are women, is often used to describe the patent hatred of women displayed in these acts. Ms. Mathis described femicide as a “form of domination, power, and control over women [by men] worldwide.” It is in many places, culturally accepted including in Guatemala where the state’s failure to end this horrific pattern of brutality by criminalizing these acts and bringing the perpetrators to justice is a clear violation of women’s human rights.

The Guatemalan government has responded by demonstrating a clear lack of political will to deal with the rising crisis effectively. Despite the staggering number of cases, a small fraction has ever come to trial, and an even smaller number have resulted in conviction. At the briefing the broadcast of a portion of the BBC production Killer’s Paradise clearly documented the police officials’ mishandling of evidence, unwillingness to investigate cases, and implement the judicial process once the potential responsible parties are identified. Instead the government is often inclined to blame the victims, linking women to gangs, drug trafficking, and prostitution.

Hilda Morales Trujillo a lawyer and advocate for families of victims of Genocide underlined the lasting effects of 36 years of conflict and civil war in Guatemala, which have created a culture that tolerates violence. The years following the execution of the Peace Accords in 1996 have led to improved opportunities for women who are leaving their homes in greater numbers to seek out employment or education prospects. However, the increased incidences of femicide reflect a simultaneous backlash against women’s growing independence. Human rights activists and advocates of justice are asking the Guatemalan government for concrete action to end the violence and to establish a rule of law, which does not tolerate or condone such atrocities. Having exhausted all avenues to work with a recalcitrant government, activists for the end of femicide in Guatemala have now turned to international instruments to formulate a potential remedy.

Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Human Rights declared their commitment to work with members of Congress to develop legislative strategies obliging the Guatemalan government to comply with its responsibility in providing security to its citizens.

Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) expressed their concern over this important “bipartisan” issue and committed to working within Congress to put an end to the cycle of violence and brutality against women in Guatemala.


Post a Comment

<< Home