Beneath the shawls, justice is served

sentencia_sepur_zarco_portada_2_4The women raise their hands on hearing the verdict (Sandra Sebastián)

“The Guatemalan justice system has said it was not a lie. Sexual violence within the Sepur Zarco military outpost was real. More than ten women had to wait 34 years for the State to acknowledge this fact. However, a much deeper story lies behind the sentence; a story of self affirmation, a process by which Guatemala was able to judge a crime that had not been considered as a violation of Human Rights after signing the Peace Accords.”

Oswaldo J. Hernández writes movingly in PlazaPública.

They are not the weakest women in Guatemala. On the contrary. They have had to go through a (personal and collective) process that has taken them over 30 years to understand their own silence and then find a way to break it.

The Guatemalan Army made them slaves and sexually abused them  in the early eighties in the Sepur Zarco outpost

This is what they said. “What we have suffered is not a lie”, this is what they have been saying over and over again, throughout the trial.

The trial has brought the women, the grandmothers from Sepur Zarco, an opportunity to recount what happened to them, because no one before—neither during the signing of the Peace Accords nor during the preparation of the Reports of the Truth—had inquired about their ordeals. For years, their testimonies have helped to describe what happened to others: tortures, massacres, disappearances.

But only a few were interested in what had happened to them: the sexual violence, the slavery. It was scarcely 20 years ago that sexual violence was recognized as a crime in Guatemala.

You can read the full article, here, which also contains more photographs by Sandra Sebastián, in addition to the above.


Categories: Gender, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Military, Violence


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