Nearly 90 per cent of all pregnancies among Guatemalan girls under 14 involved relatives, including cousins and uncles, of which 30 per cent were the result of rape by fathers That’s right, biological fathers. High levels of sexual violence against women and girls stem from the low status of women, especially indigenous Mayan women, in Guatemala’s patriarchal and macho society.
“Machismo is about men believing a woman is their property and possession. We’ve heard fathers say ‘She’s my daughter and my property so I will do what I want with her.”Last year, 5,100 girls under 14 became pregnant in the Central American country, up from 4,354 in 2013. High levels of sexual violence against women and girls stem from the low status of women, especially indigenous Mayan women, in Guatemala’s patriarchal and macho society.
Resistance to introducing sex education to the curriculum is fierce, primarily from the Catholic church, which believes talking about sex would encourage young people to have sexual relationships.
“The Catholic church has a universal position,” says Montenegro. “Should the pope suddenly say: ‘Use birth control because you have too many children,’ then that is what would happen. Our current pope is a modernist.”
Abortion is illegal except in rare cases that require approval from several authorities. “Legalising abortion in Guatemala would lower the mortality rate for children in labour,” says Vasquez. “Our problem is the same as it is anywhere where abortion is illegal: women seek help from people who dn’t have the skills or training to perform abortions. It’s incredibly dangerous.”
Whether it’s rape or murder of girls and women, few crimes are investigated and solved. There’s a phenomenal movie about the murders of women in Guatemala, called “Killers Paradise.”
Lilian’s home is a 10-minute drive from central Mataquescuintla, followed by another 10 minutes on foot. Children of all ages run around the property, which consists of three small buildings and a well-organised garden. Lilian’s family moved here recently. In their previous home, Lilian had been raped continuously by her mother’s uncle.
At 11, immediately after she got her first period, she fell pregnant.
“I don’t like to think about it anymore,” says Lilian, 13, as she dotes on her two-year-old son, Luis David. Not until she was six months pregnant and went to see a doctor did she tell anyone she had been raped. “I was afraid to tell my family, I believed that what had happened was my fault,” she says.
The doctor alerted the authorities and Lilian’s mother filed charges against her uncle. He fled, and is still at large. For the first time in a long time, Lilian smiles. She has just returned to school. “My favourite activity is making paper flowers,” she says. Read more at: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=52fc6fbd5&id=55e69b045