Thank you for this blog. It's very important. I hope you can post something about the problem internationally. I've pasted below a message from the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) at UC Hastings College of the Law. It's research center that has gathered a lot of important information about femicide. The latest update to their 2006 report on Guatemala's femicides crisis has just come out:
"Guatemala's Femicides and the Ongoing Struggle for Women’s Human Rights: Update to CGRS’s 2005 Report Getting Away With Murder"
You can get it on their website http://cgrs.uchastings.edu, where you can also download a copy of the 2005 report. We would appreciate your help in circulating this resource to others who are concerned about women's human rights. The Executive Summary of the report is pasted below, along with contact info for the Center. You can also get more information on CGRS' femicides campaign their web site: http://cgrs.uchastings.edu/campaigns/femicide.php
- David Wright ----------------------------------- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In November 2005, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) issued a report entitled Getting Away With Murder: Guatemala's Failure to Protect Women and Rodi Alvarado's Quest for Safety. This report explored the root causes why Guatemalan women – like Rodi Alvarado – are forced to seek asylum in order to escape violence in their home country. We reported that not only is there systemic tolerance of domestic violence in Guatemala, but an alarming increase in the rate of "femicides" or gender-motivated killings that are carried out with extreme brutality. By publishing this update to the 2005 report, CGRS seeks to highlight the steps that remain to be taken in order for Guatemalan women to obtain the justice and security that they deserve.
In its initial report, CGRS called on the U.S. government to raise concerns about the murders with high-level Guatemalan officials, and to advocate for specific improvements in Guatemala's investigatory and prosecutory procedures. CGRS also urged that the U.S. provide assistance in resolving these crimes, as well as take steps to make economic aid to Guatemala contingent upon favorable progress towards addressing this dire situation. Since the release of Getting Away With Murder in 2005, Guatemala's femicides have received heightened attention worldwide, and yet the Guatemalan state has still failed to confront the depth and seriousness of the human rights crisis for women in that country.
The persistent threat to Guatemalan women's lives is amply reflected in the rising numbers of their deaths. In 2005, CGRS reported a striking increase in the number of women killed between 2002 and 2004, and our current update reveals that the numbers show no sign of decreasing. Groups tracking these murders report that more than 1,000 Guatemalan women were killed between the beginning of 2005 and June 2006. The gender-based nature of these killings has also been noted with concern by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
While the Guatemalan government has pledged its commitment to confronting the crisis, it has not devoted necessary resources to existing law enforcement and investigative institutions, nor has it been willing to take a closer look at its systematic failure to protect Guatemalan women. Statistics reveal that so few convictions have been handed down that there is almost complete impunity for those who murder women in Guatemala. Recent reports have documented the continuing failure of investigators to collect and protect essential evidence from crime scenes; because crime scenes are mishandled from the beginning, even those cases that make it to a prosecutor's desk have little chance of resulting in a conviction due to a lack of evidence
Furthermore, despite repeated recommendations by organizations such as Amnesty International to create a central, unified database of femicide victims, as well as an urgent search mechanism for missing girls and women, none has been created. At the same time, key Guatemalan officials have continued to blame the victims for bringing this violence upon themselves, and family members of murdered women report that these attitudes often translate into hostility towards them when seeking government intervention and investigation. Blaming the skyrocketing numbers of murdered Guatemalan women on the victims, and implying that their murders are the result of their involvement with gang or other illegal activity, is a clear indication of a lack of commitment to locating and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Guatemala’s violent past provides some context for the current wave of femicides sweeping the country, and the virtual impunity that exists for its perpetrators. From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala suffered an armed conflict in which at least 200,000 people were “disappeared” or killed, and over a million Guatemalans were forcibly displaced. The conflict was marked by pervasive state-sponsored violence, which included the annihilation of over 400 indigenous villages in Guatemala’s highlands, and the widespread use of barbaric forms of torture. Women were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, as rape was commonly utilized as a weapon of war. Numerous investigations have concluded that the vast majority of these human rights violations were conducted by members of the Guatemalan intelligence services, many of whom escaped prosecution and now participate in police activities or are members of private security forces, which have been implicated in the femicides.
The violence of the war, combined with a culture that accepts gender violence, has placed Guatemalan women in an extremely vulnerable situation. Guatemala’s legal system is rife with provisions that minimize the seriousness of violence against women. As reported in Getting Away with Murder, one-third of all murders of women are believed to be the consequence of domestic violence, yet the Guatemalan Penal Code continues to treat domestic violence as a minor offense. These laws serve as an impediment to Guatemalan women seeking justice and protection from gender-based violence, both in their homes and in their communities.
In 2005, Guatemala appointed its first female Supreme Court President, Beatriz De León, and more recently, there have been some nascent efforts to address the femicide crisis. However, the measures that have been undertaken are grossly inadequate to end the nightmare of violence with impunity for Guatemalan women. Until the Guatemalan government makes more significant efforts towards implementing the recommendations outlined in Getting Away with Murder, as well as in Amnesty International’s 2005 and 2006 reports, the lives of Guatemala’s women will continue to hang in the balance.
-- Diana Rodriguez-Wong Program Coordinator Center for Gender and Refugee Studies UC Hastings College of the Law 200 McAllister Street San Francisco, CA 94102 E-m: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 415.565.4877 Fax: 415.581.8824
I'm conducting feminist research on how American foreign policy affects popular support for terrorism. I’m particularly interested in incorporating the views of women, non-whites, and people living outside of America and Western Europe, but all responses are invited and welcome. The survey can be accessed at
Did you know that terrorism affects women more than any other demographic group?
Please help us to stop terrorism by filling out a short survey at:
I would really value your opinion and the opinion of your readers. The long-term goal of this project is to facilitate a more diplomatic American foreign policy in the years ahead. Thank you,