Yet another horrific example of the culture of impunity that allows violence against women to flourish:
According to a report from the Inter Press Service, in the last 7 years there have been nearly 140,000 domestic violence complaints in Guatemala.
“In that period, there have also been 6,025 reported cases of rape and 3,281 women have been murdered, according to official statistics in Guatemala, which has one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America and is the focus of concern from human rights groups because of the large number of women killed in a climate of impunity.”
“Unfortunately, in Guatemala, killing a woman is like killing a fly; no importance is assigned to it,” complained local activist Hilda Morales, who argued that “the perpetrators are encouraged to continue beating, abusing and killing because they know that nothing will happen, that they won’t be punished.”
A report by the Coordinadora 25 de Noviembre, an umbrella group made up of nearly 30 local women’s organisations, said that in the last seven years, only two percent of crimes against women have been solved.
In 2006, judges handed down a total of 12 sentences, one for 60 years and the rest for 50 years. And of the few cases that are actually brought to justice, some take up to three years to make it to court.”
“Although this impoverished Central American country has laws aimed at protecting women from violence and has signed international conventions on the issue, there is a “continuing lack of will to recognise and respect human rights, which translates into silence in the face of a scourge that should be classified as a crime against humanity,” says the study by the Coordinadora 25 de Noviembre.
Morales, an activist with the Network of Non-Violence Against Women, which forms part of the umbrella group, complained that in Guatemala, “domestic violence and sexual harassment, the forerunners of the current wave of murders of women, are not even classified as crimes.”
She pointed out that until last year, a law was on the books that allowed a rapist to escape charges if he married his victim, even if she was only 12 years old.”