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Violence Against Women: 2009

 

December 31, 2009: 708 Women Die Violent Deaths in 2009. According to statistics from the Guatemalan Secretary of State, from January to December 27 708 women died violent deaths, an average of 60 victims per month, in comparison with last year which ended with 773 (assassinations of women). [...]
Read full article in English // Lea artículo en español en elPeriodico.

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December 14, 2009: Study reveals torture in womens' detention. A study by the Institute of Comparative Studies in Penal Sciences (IECCP) revealed that abuse and torture of detained women persist. The information for the study was gathered last May by way of 180 interviews with women in the Santa Teresa Detention Center. Of those 180, 26 women reported being tortured while in prison; 42 were victims of mistreatment and degrading treatment; 72 percent felt they hadn't been treated with respect. According to the report, the majority of the violent acts were perpetrated by the Specialized Criminal Investigation Department (DEIC). [Prensa Libre]

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December 4, 2009: 72 year old Nicolás Coti Gonón was sentenced to 25 years in prison for femicide today in Quetzaltenango. It is the first case to see sentencing under the law against femicide in the department. Coti Gonón is charged with the 14 August 2008 murder of his wife with a metal tube. The day of the murder, he was found drunk and covered in his wife’s blood. He claims no memory of the incident and has been kept in a mental health facility since he was first apprehended. [Prensa Libre]

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December 4, 2009: SEPREM presents policy for the integral development of women. After a consultation process of ten months with women’s organizations throughout the country,  the Presidential Women's Secretariat (Seprem) presented the National Policy of Promotion and Integral Development of Women (PNPDIM) and the Equal Opportunity Plan (PEO). The plans prioritize health, education, and combating violence against women. [elPeriodico]

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November 25, 2009: Campaign is launched to combat violence against women. On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Guatemala holds a weekend of activities to inaugurate the UN program against violence against women, with headquarters in Guatemala. Yesterday, participants from the UN and Latin American countries discussed five themes: legislative and judicial advancements; prevention strategies, plans and programs; information and training systems; access to justice; and armed conflict and displacement. On Nov. 23, there was an event held in Guatemala City to emphasize the extremes of violence against women and femicide. Names were placed under shoes to symbolize the many women who are no longer alive. [Prensa Libre]

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November 13, 2009: Organizations advocate for Guatemala to sign on to the International Criminal Court. To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, la Coalición Guatemalteca, made up of 19 social groups, asks that the International Criminal Court become active in seeking justice for women in Guatemala. The group seeks ICC involvement because crimes against women, which include rape, sexual slavery, prostitution, pregnancy and forced sterilization, happen in a systematic manner and are crimes against humanity. Guatemala has yet to ratify the agreement that gives legitimacy to the ICC. [Prensa Libre]

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November 09, 2009: Guatemala to become headquarters for UN efforts to end Violence against Women says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Guatemala was chosen to head this effort because of its high levels of violence against women, and also due to the mechanisms it has adopted to try and stop it. Members of the UN Secretariat have recognized that many of the laws in place have not been fully implemented, such as the Law against Femicide. The regional campaign "Unite to Put an End to Violence Against the Women" will be launched November 25 in Guatemala City, and it will last until 2015, in an attempt to meet the Millennium Development goals related to women. Specifically, the campaign aims to create greater governmental responsibility in combating impunity, implementing laws, and providing better services to women victims, as well as increased public education on the issue. [Prensa Libre] [UNIFEM]

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November 9, 2009: Rody Alvarado, a Guatemalan woman living in San Francisco has spent 14 years requesting political aslyum based on terrible domestic violence suffered in Guatemala. She has now received public support for aslyum from the President. Her case may set a new presedent for other women victims of abuse. More: Missionlocal.org. New York Times Opinion piece.

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September 1, 2009: Cases of Violence Lack Victims. Eight out of 10 women who are victims of violence choose to drop the penal process against their aggressors before the cases are even sent to a trial judge, usually for fear of retaliation or dependency. The government's Special Prosecutor on Women receives 700 cases a month, the majority aggression against women and children. [La Hora]

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July 24, 2009. Cruz fights for Arlene, Anyeli and Heidy. Norma Cruz finished her ninth day of her hunger strike yesterday, demanding justice for the illegal adoption processes of Arlene Escarleth López López, Anyeli Hernández Rodríguez and Heidy Saraí Batz Par, who were taken between April and November 2006.  The Prosecution against Trafficking of the MP established that the three girls had been illegally adopted by families residing in the United States, left Guatemala with false names, and were taken to Illinois, Louisiana and Iowa.  Yesterday, the Second, Eighth, and Tenth Branches of the Civil Court were designated to hear the processes and they have 48 hours to decide whether or not they will support the cases.  PNC agents, working with prosecutors from the MP, detained Abner Ludwing Cifuentes Peralta and Telma Virginia Velásquez Revolorio in Villa Nueva and San Miguel Petapa.  An arrest warrant was issued for the two in May 2008 for stealing Heidy Saraí Batz Par in April 2008. [elPeriodico]

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July 24, 2009. Man condemned to 40 years in prision for femicide. Cristóbal Aldana Archila, 48 years old, was sentenced yesterday in Alta Verapaz to 40 years in prison for femicide.  This is the first femicide conviction for that region.  Aldana was found guilty of killing his wife, 34 year old Olga Miriam Galdámez, last July 22 in Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, Alta Verapaz.  According to the MP's investigations, Aldana killed her after an argument in which she asked for a divorce.  The woman's body was found inside a plastic bag in some bushes near his house. After finding the body, neighbors tried to lynch Aldana, but he surrendered to the police. [Prensa Libre]

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July 16, 2009: Mothers Demand Justice. Norma Cruz, director of Fundación Sobrevivientes (the Survivors Foundation), began a hunger strike yesterday and said that she will not stop until three illegal adoption procedures are declared voided.  However, when Cruz's health is affected by the strike, she will be followed by a mother whose daughter was snatched from the arms and given up for adoption.  Arlen Escarleth López López, Angieli Hernández Rodríguez and Heidy Sarai Batz Par were given to other families with false identities. The children are with their adoptive families in Illinois, Iowa and Louisiana. The mothers have been victims of intimidation for 15 days, and are now receiving protection. One of them had to be moved from her home with her family as a preventative measure.  Cruz urged the president to take an official position, and said that there must be reparations for these mothers, as they were victims of officials who allowed the adoption of their daughters with false documents. [Prensa Libre]

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July 8, 2009: Concern about the Domestic Violence Register. There have reportedly been over 44 thousand cases of domestic violence between 2007 and 2008. Delia Castillo, representative of the judiciary in the National Commission for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, said that there is underreporting. He added that the Justice Department received 47 thousand reports just in 2008. This situation shows that the figures published by the INE have not recorded all of the cases occurring in the country. Part of this underreporting is due to the unlikelihood that people will file reports and the "habit of silence" that has been imposed, especially for women in Guatemala, Castillo said. Other factors that limit a woman's ability to file complaints include economic dependence on their attackers, social criticism and stereotypes that the victim is responsible for the abuse and did something to deserve it, which is false and inaccurate, said the staff member. Castillo stressed that culture should be changed. [ Prensa Libre]

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July 8, 2009: Violence Against Women is Rarely Investigated. The women’s section of the Public Prosecutor's Office receives more than 600 reports of sexual violence monthly; however impunity is also a characteristic in these cases. Of the total of 3,401 reports received between January and May of this year so far, only 68 suspected perpetrators are in protective custody. The Public Prosecutor has filed 224 arrest warrants, and of those, 156 have yet to be served.The climate of violence against women becomes complex because, according to critics, the number of police officers who can provide help to the victims is insufficient. To this is added the lack of investigators and, hence, the lack of effective criminal prosecution against the aggressors. This leads many victims to simply give up. [ La Hora]

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June 23, 2009: CAIMUS Help Women to Overcome Domestic Violence. Support Centers for Women Survivors of Violence (Caimus) serve an average of 300 females per month free of charge and offered legal advice and medical, among other assistance. Each of them has received psychological and medical care, visits to their residence, rescuing of children, acquisition of food assistance, help to get identity cards or birth certificates for their children. [Prensa Libre]

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May 15, 2009: Norma Cruz, director of the Survivors' Foundation, denounces threats against her. Cruz plans to continue working on the case which has sparked the threats and will receive government protection.

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May 1, 2009: Man Goes to Jail Under Femicide Law. The second person to be convicted for under the Femicide Law was sentanced to 30 years in prison for murdering his wife in October 2008. William Oswaldo Melgar Alarcón will spend 30 years in prison for killing his wife. The Eighth Court of Sentencing found Alarcón guilty of the crime of femicide, after it was found that on October 1, 2008 the accused came to his wife’s home drunk and argued with her, Rosa Andrea Miranda Flores, 37, and then shot her to death. Afterwards, Alarcon attempted suicide but failed and was then arrested by the police.[Prensa Libre]

 

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