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Help End the Killings of Women in Guatemala

January 28, 2008

Evelin Molina Lima, Claudina Velasquez, Floresmila Lopez, Nancy Peralta ...

These are just a few of the names of the more than 3,000 women and girls that have been murdered in Guatemala since the year 2000. Already in the first three weeks of January, more than thirty women have tragically lost their lives to femicide. The Guatemalan government’s response: a propensity to blame the victim, botched investigations, and a lack of political will to prosecute the perpetrators. The clamoring of Guatemalan women has fallen on deaf ears, so they are counting on us to apply international pressure.

If you haven’t already done so in the past few months, Click here to ask your US Senators to cosponsor a Resolution condemning the killings of women and urging the Guatemalan government to investigate the murders and bring the perpetrators to justice!

The number of women murdered in Guatemala has risen more than 150% in seven years. A key characteristic in a large number of cases is the brutality with which the muders are committed. Many of the victims are raped and tortured first and then their mutilated boides are left in public places for members of their communities to find. The majority of victims are young, poor women under the age of 40. Many are students, housewives, factory workers, domestic employees, and workers in the informal sector. Even professionals have been targeted.

The Guatemalan government has failed to adequately respond to this tragic epidemic of unsolved murders. Progress in the investigations has been fraught with numerous shortcomings, including a lack of technical capacity to preserve crime scenes, interrogate witnesses, and collect and preserve evidence, as well as a lack of political will to resolve the murders. Fewer than 30 cases have gone to trial in the last seven years. The Guatemalan Government’s inaction in the face of these brutal murders suggests a public policy of tolerance for gender-based violence.

This is why international pressure is needed.Senate Resolution 178 is a vital step in pressuring the Guatemalan government to investigate these murders, bring the perpetrators to justice, and prevent future violence against women.

Moreover, the bipartisan Senate Resolution encourages the Guatemalan Government to establish a comprehensive Missing Persons System and an effective Witness Protection Program for witnesses, victims’ relatives, and human rights defenders. It also encourages Guatemalan lawmakers to adequately fund the National Institute for Forensic Science (INACIF), which will train lab personnel in investigatory and evidence gathering protocols in the hopes of finding and prosecuting the assailants of the crimes. Finally, it recommends that the US Secretary of State develop a comprehensive plan to address the growing problem of violence against women throughout all of Latin America.

Senate Resolution 178 has been pending since May 2007 and it needs more cosponsors before it goes to the Floor in the upcoming weeks!


[The following Senators have already cosponsored the Resolution: Bingaman (NM), Boxer (CA), Casey (PA), Dodd (CT), Durbin (IL), Feingold (WI), Feinstein (CA), Lautenberg (NJ), Leahy (VT), Lincoln (AR), Menendez (NJ), Sanders (VT), and Snowe (ME)]







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