During the 36-year-long Guatemalan civil war, indigenous women were systematically raped and enslaved by the military in a small community near the Sepur Zarco outpost. What happened to them then was not unique, but what happened next, changed history. From 2011 – 2016, 15 women survivors fought for justice at the highest court of Guatemala. The groundbreaking case resulted in the conviction of two former military officers of crimes against humanity and granted 18 reparation measures to the women survivors and their community.
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At thirty, Olga Macz is a teacher and entrepreneur, and a force to be reckoned with. She leads a women’s group in Campur, a small municipality in the mostly rural Alta Vara Paz department of Guatemala, which makes and sells organic shampoo. For many of the women, this is the first time that they are making their own money and making decisions.
Martha Benavente, from Tucurú, a small municipality in Guatemala trained for six months to become a solar engineer, and she is bursting with energy. She can’t wait to start building solar lamps so that her community can have sustainable energy at last. One solar lamp could sell for up to 200 Quetzals, a lucrative business opportunity for a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Sepur Zarco was the first case of conflict-related sexual violence challenged under Guatemala's penal code. It was also the first time that a national court anywhere in the world had ruled on charges of sexual slavery during an armed conflict-a crime under international law. In its path-breaking
Natividad Coc believes midwifes are born, not made, and she received the calling herself and went into midwifery training while still a young girl. One sunny afternoon, as she makes her rounds in the mountainous district of Chimaltenango, Guatemala.
Zoila Esperanza Morán never learned how to read or write. As the eldest girl in a family of two sisters and a brother, she never had a chance to go to school. “Education is not important for women,” her mother would say. And so Zoila spent her childhood helping with chores at home, until the age of 15, when she was married off without her consent.