Guatemala: How indigenous women beat paramilitaries

Despite all odds, Guatemala’s highest court has sentenced five former paramilitary soldiers to 30 years in jail for raping 36 indigenous Maya Achi women during the country’s civil war, on January 24. In this new podcast, our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts explore with Marlies Stappers and Brisna Caxaj of Impunity Watch how women pushed for justice for 11 years and eventually succeeded. Both speakers express their admiration for the resilience, strength and creativity with which women victims in Guatemala have been achieving their goals in a particularly hostile context.

A large group of indigenous women outside the Justice Palace in GuatemalaA large group of women victims of sexual violence turned out to hear the verdict in the trial of five former paramilitaries on 24 January in Guatemala City. © Johan Ordonez / AFP
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In Guatemala, the High Risk Court ruled in January this year that 5 former paramilitaries were guilty of rape, domestic slavery and sexual abuse against indigenous women from the Mayan Achi during the civil war. We explore with Marlies Stappers and Brisna Caxaj from Impunity Watch how the women pushed for justice for eleven years, despite deep seated racism and misogyny. Here’s some background.

We also mention the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and his chief of military intelligence officer, on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide. More background here at the great IJ Monitor archive. And the Sepur Zarco 2016 trial which paved the way for this result, in recognising wartime sexual violence and sexual and domestic slavery as crimes against humanity. Brisna wrote this for Justice Info at the time.

Janet speaks with Marlies Stappers (left) and Brisna Caxaj (bottom right)

Asymmetrical Haircuts podcastASYMMETRICAL HAIRCUTS

This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between JusticeInfo.net and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.