GHRC Stands in Solidarity with Women in Guatemala

Guatemalan women

Women in Guatemala, courtesy of flickr user IMs BILDARKIV

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, GHRC stands in solidarity with women in Guatemala. Since 2005, we have worked to support women victims of gender violence, raise awareness about rising rates of femicide, and lead annual delegations to Guatemala in order to investigate abuses and hear from women leaders about their efforts to address this violence. GHRC also just wrapped up a speaking tour with Lorena Cabnal, a Maya-Xinca woman, feminist, and community organizer.

Guatemala has the third highest rate of femicide in the world, and brutal violence against women has claimed the lives of over 5,000 women since 2000. Domestic violence within the country is part of the larger problems of institutionalized gender discrimination, trafficking, a history of sexual violence as part of the internal conflict, and rampant impunity which leaves women with little access to justice.

This issue was addressed last week in Washington, DC, as panelists convened for a congressional briefing on the current status of domestic violence in Latin America. In his introduction, Congressman Sam Farr stated that one in three women in Latin America are victims of domestic violence; the countries with the top five rates of femicide are also all located in the region.

Dr. Renos Vakis, of the World Bank, argued that it is in both Latin America’s interest, as well as the United State’s interest to address this pervasive problem. Not only is it a human rights issue, but it is also a matter which puts pressure on the health care and legal systems, and contributes to lost economic productivity. According to Dr. Vakis, while 30% of the households that escaped poverty did so due to women’s economic contributions, only six of ten women in Latin America currently participate in the labor force.
Continue reading