Guatemala: Talking about the genocide of indigenous women

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Society & You - Social Critic
Thursday, 23 February 2012 17:10

This post is part of our special coverage of Indigenous Rights .

The civil war that ravaged Guatemala for 36 years (1960-1996) left more than 200,000 dead and at least 100,000 women raped: Most of the victims were Mayan. Not long ago, women have begun to speak of the violence suffered by the army and paramilitaries, and finally the sexual violence perpetrated against women Maya is being investigated as part of the process of ongoing genocide in courts Spanish.

International Lawyer Almudena Bernabeu with Maria Toj and other survivors of Genocide in Guatemala. CC by Renata Ávila

International Law Attorney Almudena Bernabeu with Maria Toch and other survivors of genocide in Guatemala. Renata Avila DC.

The documentary Genocide invisible women , of Ophelia photojournalists Pablo and Javier Zurita reveals the harsh reality of the survivors who tell disturbing stories of abuse, torture and violence, and efforts to advance the forensic investigation and in the ongoing legal case against the Guatemalan president Efrain Rios Montt.

In 2008, the documentary Women, violence, silence of Javier Bauluz, sheds light on the story of Manuela, a single mother working in a center of family integration in Verapaz, one of the areas most affected by the 36-year civil war that devastated the country. Through the work of Manuela reveals the reality of the situation of women in Guatemala.

In a country where an average of two women are murdered every day, women are under constant threat: the massive and organized they suffered during the conflict, gender violence and child abuse and discrimination by gender and race are just some of the most important issues.

Human Journalist Patricia Simon wrote about the terrible crimes committed against women during the genocide in Guatemalan Women, violence and silence in Guatemala presented by the documentary of the same name:

Rape, mutilation, sexual exploitation, to force sterilizations and Stripping rape, forced abortions to provoke, to feticide-rajarles the belly and remove the fetuses-were systematically torture committed by the army and paramilitaries against these women . While they did, as you can see in the Special, I said, for being indigenous, "are not people, they are animals." Many of these women never had these crimes and they did, or was known in his community, were rejected, despised, expelled.

The reason being that just knowing about these crimes and you are talking about them is, according to Maria Eugenia Solis, former Justice ad hoc Human Rights Court, that the United Unions, to investigate the genocide, did not ask about these crimes, as if it were even possible. The only reason you have documented these abuses is that women, when asked about other crimes, the collateral mentioned when dealing with the issue of violence involving their husbands or other men in their families. And mostly, do not say anything about it:

Is naturalized violence against women. Before, during and after conflict. Women have lived in huge levels of inequality relative to the rest of society. Not recognized as subjects. The first job is to make them think they are human beings, which is not normal to abuse them. Although they have done from small because there was so much incest. And we must take into account the reactions after they were raped by the fighters, which were very different but never of solidarity: they were considered traitors, dirty, and their children if they had been pregnant of her attackers ... It is supposed that they should have done everything possible to die before being raped. Therefore they feel guilty. But it is also that their rapists are still neighbors. They are surrounded by pure enemy. Some women just around the presentation of a report recording its witness, returned to being raped by them.

The organizations have been fighting this situation by organizing activities, festivals and renuiones where survivors of rape during armed conflict can talk and receive support, as the regional festival to remember that took place in 2008 and 2011. This festival included activities that explore the themes of healing, empowerment, presentation of testimony, open discussions, opportunities for reflection, a Mayan ceremony and arts and dance to engage women and help them feel empowered to overcome their pain and join with others to help put an end to sexual violence.

Disclosing this story is one step toward justice for Guatemalan women, even after the civil war have not seen better their lot. According to Women Today , in 2010 more than 685 women were murdered in Guatemala, which placed the country at the top of femicide in Latin, above Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Furthermore, only 1% of cases go to trial, and the head of the compensation of victims of civil war has claimed he does not believe there were violations. Attorney Almudena Bernabeu, who brought this case to the Spanish courts, underlines the importance of this process:

Sometimes universal justice is the only opportunity for victims if they fail their own righteousness

Survivors and activists from Rabinal, Baja Verapaz Guatemala who declared as witnesses before Spanish Court on the genocide case and declared their testimonies of crimes against women. Image CC By Renata Ávila

Survivors and activists of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz Guatemala who testified before the Spanish court in the case of genocide and declared their testimonies of crimes against women. DC Image Renata Avila.

This post is part of our special coverage of Indigenous Rights .

Written by Juliana Rincón Parra · Translated by Gabriela Garcia Calderon Orbe · View original post [en] · Comments (1)
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