Sunday, March 23, 2008

Guatemalan Women

There was a documentary on the Documentary Channel a few weeks ago called Killer's Paradise, and I strongly urge you to watch it. It is on again tomorrow night. It details the current situation in Guatemala regarding the killing of women. It is an atrocity of an unimaginable scale. The documentary is chilling.

3,000 women and girls have been killed in Guatemala since 2000. Nearly all of the murders go without an investigation, and for the ones that are investigated, the forensic and investigative methods employed are horrifically inept, and they often boil down to a pile of languishing paperwork. There have been 20 convictions from 2001 to 2006.

The police themselves have been implicated in several of the murders, rapes, and mutilations.

One story is told by a father whose daughter was kidnapped from in front of their house. The neighbors ran over to tell him what happened, and offered him their car to chase the kidnappers. He and his son tried to search for them, then went to the police station to report it and ask for assistance. He tells how he begged them to send out an APB, put up road blocks, anything, and they treated him with complete disdain. Then he and his son went back out looking for her. Hours later they came back to the police station and asked if there had been any news. The sergeant looked at him and said, "What missing girl? You have not filed a report."

No woman is safe in Guatemala. If a dead body is found, the woman is presumed to be a prostitute, and nothing is done. The injustice is so far beyond imagination, it is difficult to comprehend. The streets are crawling with rapists and murderers who openly admit what they have done. They practically brag about it.

The United States has sent forensics experts to Guatemala to train them on how to secure a crime scene and collect evidence, but nobody applies what they have learned, and the Guatemalan government does not provide funding for investigative resources.

The Senate has recently, on March 10th, passed a resolution expressing sympathy for the families of those who have been murdered, and to "encourage" and "urge" the Secretary of State, the President, and the Attorney General to assist the Guatemalan government in establishing law, order, and justice, with respect to these atrocities. We can all pray that it will help.

Some blogs on Amnesty USA have entries that tell more stories.

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