Sexually abused girls in Guatemala are ‘invisible’ to justice, which has scheduled trials for 2025, Ossar says

The absence of the Guatemalan state in matters of justice, education and health keeps thousands of girls and adolescents ‘invisible’ and ‘disenfranchised’. are victims of sexual abuse and violence every year in the Central American country.

This was stated by Mirna Montenegro, Director of the Observatory of Sexual and Reproductive Health (Osar), in an interview with Eph on the status of women in Guatemala.

“If we talk about girls who are victims of sexual violence, they are invisible, unprotected, without hope and without rights” explained Cherna Gora, a doctor specializing in public and reproductive health, as well as the leader of the NGO since 2008.

The aforementioned observatory, composed mainly of university medical faculties and health professionals, periodically makes visible the increase in births registered in girls and adolescents from 10 to 19 years on the territory of Guatemala.

In the first eight months of 2022, the organization there are 1 thousand 448 births of pregnancies registered of girls under the age of 14 raped in Guatemala, that is almost five a day.

According to Dr. Montenegro’s analysis, of these 1,448 abused girls, in only 3% of these cases will the abuser be prosecutedbut without certainty of conviction.

“The problem is that in Guatemala we have made progress on the issue of complaint but not on justice because 97% of complaints are in the context of sexual violence goes unpunishedMontenegro explained.

The doctor illustrated the delay of justice with the case of “Angelina”, a local girl who gave birth to twins as a result of rape in 2019 and the Guatemalan judicial authority scheduled the trial of the rapist for August 2025. six years after the events.

in rural areas

Most cases of pregnant girls and adolescents are concentrated in rural areas of Guatemala, such as Alta Verapaz, where 5,337 children up to 19 years of age became mothers in 2022, according to the observatory.

In this region, many girls are raped by their immediate relatives or by farm managers where the Q’eqchi’ Mayan communities to which they belong are settled, as revealed by the fieldwork done by Dr. Montenegro.

Also read: “The situation of forced pregnancies in Guatemala is chilling”: Cases of girls and young mothers are a normalized epidemic in the country

“Upper Verapaz it resembles a system of feudal lords and slaves. Many families live on farms and the foremen consider the girls part of their estate. We found houses where there are two or three girls who are victims of sexual violence and are also carrying a baby,” emphasized the expert.

The effects of rape and forced motherhood can destroy victims’ life projects to the point of considering suicidewarns the expert.

“In the lives of the girls, it has a total effect, even to the point of attempting suicide. in 2020 we had five suicides of pregnant teens under 19“, the health worker explained.

Low investment in education and health

In 2021, the Guatemalan Ministries of Education and Health signed on the prevent through education cardobliging them to ensure that schools and health centers have staff trained in comprehensive sexuality education and violence prevention.

However, in February of this year, pro-government MPs promoted a bill that tried to banning sex education in schools across the country Central America.

Read also: What is the WHO warning about the risk of pregnant women suffering from severe forms of covid-19

According to Dr. Montenegro, the political agenda of Guatemalan congressmen constitutes a “regression in human rights”.

In addition, the health specialist warns that the public budget that the government of Guatemala, presided over by Alejandro Jamatei, seeks to approve by 2023 will have a negative impact on preventive health projects.

“The 2023 budget will cut Q4 million ($500,000) from the human papillomavirus vaccination program, which is to prevent cervical cancer. the new budget No enough to vaccinate girls between 10 and 14 years of age” warns Dr. Montenegro.

Added to this context, currently the only state economic support for girls who are victims of sexual violence is the “life program”bonus of Q1 thousand 500 per year (US$190) administered by the Ministry of Social Development.

Also read: Osar: ‘If you want to prevent abortions, you need to give comprehensive sex education’

“In Guatemala we have made progress in registering the victims, but we are far from guaranteeing girls’ rights and recognizing sexual violence as a medical emergency“, concluded Montenegro.

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