FROM THE FIELD: Enslaved Guatemalan indigenous women wait for reparations

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Fifteen Guatemalan women from the Q’eqchi indigenous group, who were enslaved and raped by the military during the Central American country’s 36-year-long civil conflict, are still waiting for hard-won reparations to materialize.

With the help of local women’s rights organizations, including UN Women and other UN partners, the women from Sepur Zarco in the east of Guatemala succeeded in securing the conviction of two former military officers on charges of crimes against humanity, back in 2016.

The women of Sepur Zarco in Guatemala fought and won a groundbreaking case against two former military officers accused of crimes against humanity. (April 2018)
​​​​​​​UN Women/Ryan Brown

It was a groundbreaking legal decision; the first time anywhere in the world that a national court had prosecuted sexual slavery during conflict using national legislation and international criminal law.

The women were granted a total of 18 reparation measures, including education for the children of their community, access to land, a health-care clinic and other interventions which would help to confront what UN Women has described as “the abject poverty their community has endured across generations.”

But UN Women say that many of the reparations have not been paid.

Read more here, about the women known respectfully as the abuelas (grandmothers) of Sepur Zarco.

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