Today we met with Dinora Gramajo and Giovana Lemus, experts on violence against women and members of the Central American Feminist Network. They work with the Grupo Guatemalteco de Mujeres (GGM). The organization runs a women's shelter in Guatemala city for up to 40 women and children. The organization also provides support for women in the South.Last year they served 4000 women needing support from centres who received services from a mulit-displinary team . GGM has 100 women who work in networks across the country. Part of the work includes maintaining strategic alliances at local, national and international levels in Latin America. GGM launched a campaign: "Not one more death," in response to a study that they carried out entitled, "No olvidamos ni acceptamos: Femicidio en Centroamerica 2000-2006 (We won't forget, we will not accept).
The campaign was successful in terms of generating public interest in the
issue and most importantly, GGM was successful in achieving legislative changes. The government was pressured to assume responsibility for violence against women. After many years of research and a public campaign, femicide was legislated as a hate act against women in instances of violence and murder in 2008. However the courts continue to fail to prosecute the majority of acts of violence against women. GMM reviewed reported incidents of family violence from 2003-07 in six communities with the highest incidence of male violence totaling 132,201 cases. Less than 2% of acts of murder were prosecuted in the courts over the last ten years. GGM continues to research and track acts of femicide in homicide rates as there is no willingness on the part of the government to conduct research on this issue. Despite the government's verbal commitment to women's rights, the number of cases of violence against women is increasing.
Dinora and Giovana explained that they could not have succeeded in their research and advocacy work without the support of international partners like Oxfam and Horizons. They continue to raise the profile of this issue through the United Nations and the Organization for American States. In August 2011 they will be hosting the Third Latin American Conference for women who work on the front lines of violence against women in Antigua Guatemala.
In their conclusion they explained that the women engaged in research and advocacy with GGM often have had to avoid using their names to protect themselves. At times they have been assigned protection through the office of the attorney general when assisting women going through the court system. We thanked Dinora and Giovana for their courage and commitment.