2. Helping survivors of gender-based violence in Guatemala
A high proportion of violations have been committed against community leaders, and against women in Guatemala. During the 36-year-long Guatemalan civil war (1960 – 1996), indigenous women were systematically raped and enslaved by the military.
In January 2007, 11 Q’eqchi women from the community of Lote Ocho in the Polochic Valley in Guatemala suffered serious abuses during an armed eviction from their land to make way for a Canadian mining company.
For a long time, the women did not talk about what happened that afternoon, not even to each other.
“On that day in 2007, all the joy and happiness in our community disappeared,” Margarita Caal Caal said.
“The mining company and police came to evict us. They raped us, they burned our houses and destroyed everything we had. We were pushed into extreme poverty.”
The mother-of-six said that her community previously lived a happy and peaceful life and were able to grow their own food. Now, the mining company has destroyed the land.
“The land is not as rich as it was before. The rivers are drying up and we are worried our children will have no water.”
“We struggled for many years until now. It was very painful what we lived through.”
Trócaire and local partner Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP) are providing emotional and psychosocial support to the women of Lote Ocho.
The women are now seeking justice for the crimes committed against them in national and international courts.
“We came together as a group of women to seek justice, but as of yet, we have not been heard,” Caal Caal said. “We want to let the world know what happened to us indigenous women.”
“We want to avoid this happening again to other women and to the next generation.”
3. ‘Listening points’ in DR Congo for survivors of Gender Based Violence