Remembrance and dignity of victims of sexual violence during the armed conflict

Country: Guatemala
Organization: Actoras de Cambio
Years supported: 2007-2009 / 2010 – 2013

During the armed conflict in Guatemala (1960 – 1996), sexual violence was deliberately used as a weapon of war against indigenous populations; 90% of such violence was inflicted on indigenous, primarily Mayan women.

Against this background, the NGO Actoras de Cambio is committed to combating the impunity which torturers enjoy and undertaking individual and collective remembrance efforts with the victims.

Justice, as this NGO understands it, goes far beyond criminal sanctions for the abusers. It is centered around four main thrusts:

1) ensuring that rape is recognized as a crime;
2) ensuring that the social stigma attaches to the abusers, not the women;
3) ensuring that women can find the necessary support to rebuild their lives and lead lives as women without guilt or fear; and
4) guaranteeing the eradication of rape through collective changes to social structures.

To this end, the organization has established networks of discussion, healing, mutual support and defense groups with Mayan women who have survived rape. It has published a book which contributes to the history of Guatemala by making the voices of Mayan women rape survivors heard; it organizes “remembrance” festivals” and has developed curricula for professors to tackle the history of the war and analyze the mechanisms that drive rape.

Pro Victimis extended its backing two years after Actoras de Cambio was launched, to enable the NGO to pursue its activities and broaden its geographical coverage.

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