Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Jorge Dan Lopez
Violence and death are always present and tangible in Guatemala. The population seems to accept it as normal, even more so when women are the victims. In many cases, society simply ignores it, sits in silence or turns a blind eye.
Many men treat women as if they have no rights, thinking it unusual that someone should be punished or fined for beating, raping or killing them.
In Guatemala, violence against women generally starts behind the walls of their own homes. The aggressors in most cases are the men closest to them: fathers, brothers, cousins and partners.
There are now laws to protect women but there is little education, information or willingness to report crimes. The male perpetrators themselves often don’t seem to understand why they are being arrested. Prosecutors told me that they often hear from men accused of such crimes: “Why am I being arrested? I only hit my wife.”
The accused normally say they won’t do it again but, according to prosecutors, women who take back abusive partners are often hurt, or even killed, by the same man.