Juana has been targeted and subjected to threats, intimidation, and sexist slurs because of her gender. She says attacks on women are all too common because they are easy targets.
“Attacks of this nature are common against women human rights defenders, where persistent sexism means women will often be accused of being bad mothers, bad wives or even prostitutes for their participation in community struggles.”
“People say women are not supposed to lead, they don’t have the capacity to lead community groups of 300 or 600 people.”
For Juana, her participation was something she and her partner discussed together.
‘My partner and I reached an agreement that I would attend the meetings. I was never involved in anything like this before.”
As recently as September 2021, Juana was subjected to intimidation when a police patrol passed through the community three times asking for her.
On arriving at Juana’s home, they claimed they were there for her protection, even though Juana does not benefit from any state protection measures, and they took photos of her and her house.
As a mother of three girls, Juana is conscious that the risk is not just to herself, but to her family as well.
“There are nights when I don’t sleep, thinking about everything that could happen to us. The physical, psychological and emotional toll is tremendous.”
The imprisonment of her partner has also placed considerable pressure on Juana who not only has to worry about how to look after her daughters, but her partner’s legal expenses as well.
“We have to keep fighting because if we remain silent, we’re accomplices of what is happening. We get stronger every day and we continue fighting for our territories and natural resources. We fight for our children’s future so they can live in a healthy environment where they have the freedom to express themselves, to go to the river, to enjoy the water with their friends. This is a story, a legend of our struggle which will remain as an example for our children.”
Trócaire, through Irish Aid funding, provided legal support through partners to the eight imprisoned human rights defenders of the Guapinol river, including José AbelinoCedillo, Juana’s partner.
After 914 days of illegal imprisonment they were finally released.
You can learn more about our work in Honduras here.