Guatemala: Women Organizations Receive Threats
Posted by admin on June 21st, 2007
PRESS RELEASEGuatemala: Women Organizations Receive Threats
We wish to draw to public attention, and to denounce in the strongest terms,threats against women’s organizations in Guatemala working for women’srights. In particular, we refer to threats recently directed against ouractivists in Actoras de Cambio (Women Acting for Change). We are aConsortium formed by two Guatemalan NGOs, the National Union of GuatemalanWomen and the Community and Psychosocial Action Study Team.
“Stop doing what you are doing - unless you want to be one more raped andwidowed woman!” was the way one threat against a member of Actoras de Cambiowas worded. Such an explicit warning of rape and murder represents anassault on the personal integrity and life of our members and theirfamilies. It indicates a heightened level of danger for defenders of humanrights in Guatemala.
Actoras de Cambio is an NGO that gives psychosocial support and education inwoman rights to women who were victims of sexual violence during the armedconflict. Our aim is to strengthen women survivors so that they may be ableto take hold of and redirect their own ‘life projects’ and to play moreactive roles in their communities and in the country.
It is clear that these attacks on our organization are politicallymotivated. The intention in threatening individual women is to damage theemotional and physical well-being of our whole team, to put a stop to ourprogramme of work for empowerment, for the recovery of self-respect, and forcompensation and justice for women who survived sexual violence in the armedconflict.
During the war in Guatemala sexual violence was used as a weapon to generateterror in the population. The fighting ended twelve years ago, but rape hascontinued to be commonplace in the postwar period. In recent years,especially in the cities, it has been compounded with sexual torture,mutilation and murder of many women: a campaign of femicide that is directlyreminiscent of the war years.
This widespread and growing violence against women, the product of anoppressive system based on unequal gender relations, is exacerbated by thefailure of the legal system in Guatemala, where crimes are seldominvestigated or punished. This regime of impunity results from unjust socialstructures in our country, which allow criminals to act under the protectionof, or even with the complicity of state institutions.
We wish to express our solidarity with all those organizations defendinghuman rights in Guatemala, whether national or international, that have beenthe victims of threat or attack. We demand the Guatemalan government tolaunch a thorough investigation of all these criminal acts and to punish thepeople responsible.
In turn, we ask for solidarity from national bodies, the internationalcommunity and the media. Please put pressure on the Guatemalan government toenforce the rule of law and fulfil its obligation to protect the humanrights of every citizen - not least the rights of those who are preciselystruggling to defend rights.
The Consortium Actoras de Cambio (Women Acting for Change), the UnionNacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG).
El Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Accion Psicosocial (ECAP)
Guatemala.15th June 2007
Posted by: Marisa Aguilera-Wells
Found on the Mujeres Libres website!