• Published by Elizabeth Droggitis in: Colombia Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Violence Against Women Website

    We sang, we danced, we laughed and we celebrated each other. That’s how we started day two of the transitional justice conference with the help of our partner organization Taller de Vida. They led us in a group song and dance that left us all energized to start the day.

    Our partner Taller de Vida leading an energetic drum circle and icebreaker.

    Our partner Taller de Vida led an energetic drum circle and icebreaker.

    And the women needed this positive energy. Because today, we’d be hearing first-hand stories of the human rights abuses that they and their families have suffered. We heard the story of “Maria”, a survivor of the 1982 massacre of Las Dos Erres in Guatemala, where over 200 campesinos, many of them children including her brother and other family members, lost their lives during a wave of brutal violence under Rios Montt. She bravely shared her painful story with us, and how she fought for justice. Years later, she testified against the perpetrators of this violence in the Inter-American system, through regional human rights bodies. And thankfully, some of these men are now in jail.

    And we heard from more women about the violence, threats, discrimination and displacement they and their families have faced. When I listened to these women’s stories, I was inspired by their bravery and by the shared fight for justice that has brought them all together here.

    But what do we do when justice eludes us? What do we do when the police don’t investigate these crimes? What do we do when prosecutors don’t try these cases? What do we do when legislators don’t pass laws that protect women and families? How do these brave women seek justice?

    When local and national channels fail, that’s when we go to the international system. And that’s what the second day’s training focused on. Lisa Davis and Cassandra Atlas of MADRE’s Human Rights Advocacy staff led a dynamic session on the tools and vehicles available to these women to bring their cases to an international stage. Not only does bringing your case to the international stage give visibility and voice to your issue, but it’s a vital opportunity to demand action from your government and a key moment to build coalitions and solidarity movements for justice.

    Seeking justice in the international system is a long process, and it does not bring change overnight. But it is an important vehicle for demanding justice for these women. But as Maria’s story shows us, it can work. And as Maria said to the group, “I want to say to all the women who are here to not be afraid…because when we are scared, we are silent. But if we go forward fighting, we will find justice.”

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Sara McCloskey in: Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Violence Against Women Website

    What kind of courage does it take to defy death threats in the name of justice? The kind of courage embodied by Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz.

    This remarkable woman has been at the forefront of stopping organized crime and confronting human rights violations in Guatemala since she became the first female attorney general in 2010.

    Claudia Paz y Paz via Nobel Women's Initiative.

    Claudia Paz y Paz via Nobel Women’s Initiative.

    Paz y Paz didn’t let anyone stop her in her pursuit of justice. She charged corrupt police officers, drug lords, politicians and other perpetrators of human rights violations. But Paz y Paz’s term was cut short. The reasons why speak volumes about the enduring impunity in Guatemala.

    Paz y Paz began her term as attorney general when her predecessor was removed from the position 6 to 7 months after he started. Ricardo Sagastume, a businessman and corporate lawyer—whose father was the president of the supreme court when dictator Efrain Rios Montt was in office—argued on a technicality that Paz y Paz would fulfill her term in May as opposed to December because of her start date. The court ruled in favor of this questionable argument, cutting back her term by seven months. Paz y Paz was also excluded from running for a second term as attorney general during this election cycle.

    Sagastume says he pursued this for non-political reasons, but the timing is very suspicious. The retrial of a monumental case was scheduled before the end of her term. Paz y Paz prosecuted and convicted Rios Montt for his role in the genocide against Indigenous Peoples during his term. Rios Montt was only president for a few years during a brutal 36 year civil war that killed over 200,000 people, and during this time, he received supported from the Reagan Administration.

    One survivor of this violence, Rosa, shared her story with us and our partner organization Muixil. Both of Rosa’s parents were executed when she was five-years-old. She sat next to her parents’ bodies for two days, waiting for someone to come. When her uncle arrived, they hid in the mountains and ate grass to fight their hunger. Numerous women told similar stories about losing their loved ones during this terrible time.

    The case against Rios Montt was a landmark in the quest for justice in Guatemala. Our partners told us that the mere initiation of these charges against the former dictator was validating. But two weeks after the decision, everything changed. On May 20, 2013, the verdict was overturned by the courts. Now 88-year-old Rios Montt will not face retrial until January 2015.

    During her four years in office, Paz y Paz developed into a prominent political figure and brought significant change to the region. She became a voice for women, who now have laws acknowledging that violence against women is a crime. The overall crime rate also dropped by around nine percent.

    Even though she has been forced from her position, it is clear that Paz y Paz’s role in bringing accountability to Guatemala’s judicial system will leave a lasting legacy for victims of violence and others standing up against human rights abuses.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Elizabeth Droggitis in: Colombia Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Violence Against Women Website

    Some have been forced from their homes in waves of mass displacement. Others have lost family members to decades of violence. And others still have suffered sexual violence in the context of armed conflict. Though their stories may differ, they are all here for a shared purpose: a tireless pursuit for peace and justice.

    Our sisters from Guatemala leading a ceremony of thanks to start the transitional justice conference.

    Our sisters from Guatemala leading a ceremony of thanks to start the transitional justice conference.

    Over 30 women from Colombia and Guatemala have been brought together for a MADRE-organized, two day transitional justice conference in Bogotá. The courageous women have gathered to share their stories of survival in the context of the human rights abuses suffered during the armed conflicts in both countries. It will be a chance for these women to reflect on their experiences in a safe space, discuss the challenges they’ve faced in their pursuits for justice, learn from each other as they move forward, and benefit from a community of support.

    This morning, we listened to the women share strategies for preserving their historical memories, an important process for building peace. As Magdalena Ceto from Centre for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) shared with the group, “Our memory is something that cannot be erased.” Preserving their memories, the memories of their ancestors and communities is a powerful tool for seeking justice. It promises that their struggles will not be forgotten. And it drives us all forward in our shared commitment to peace and justice.

    These women have been inspiring to listen to and to learn from. I’m motivated by their dedication to justice and to human rights for all. And I can’t wait to share more updates with you as the conference continues!

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Sara McCloskey in: Iraq Sexual Rights Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    Since the beginning of the crisis in Iraq, our partner Yanar Mohammed, President of Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), has provided us with on-the-ground accounts of the hardships and danger Iraqi women and families are facing. Now, we want to give you the opportunity to pose your questions to her.

    AGAINSTwomenVERTICAL_Final (4)

    Here’s how YOU can #AskYanar:

    Up until Friday August 8th, tweet your question to @MADREspeaks using the hashtag #AskYanar or go onto MADRE’s Facebook Fan Page and comment on one of the posts about the Q&A session.

    Be sure to check our myMADRE blog on Monday, August 25th to see if your question was answered by Yanar!

    Please note that not all submissions will be accepted.

    Yanar’s recent interviews and quotes:

    “Suicide, Rape, Murder: Life For Women In Iraq Under ISIS”, HuffPost Live

    “Three days after the invasion began, the militants were knocking on doors asking for unmarried women. We were told that 13 were taken from their homes and raped. More were taken later. The militants said it was their duty to serve the needs of the jihadists.”

    - “In Iraq, humanitarian crisis called ‘epic’”, Toronto Star

    “How Can We Protect Women From A Sexual Jihad?”, HuffPost Live

    “The Iraqi society is suffering unprecedented crisis that threatens the future of peaceful co-existence of citizens, and augments genocides and civil conflicts based on the sectarian identities that were established on the Iraqi population, and were strengthened throughout more than a decade of the American occupation to Iraq.”

    - “On the Occupation of Mosul and the Cities of Western Iraq”, One Billion Rising

    “Iraq’s New Humanitarian Crisis”, HuffPost Live

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Chloe Silversmith in: Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Middle East Palestine Sexual Rights Website Women's Health

    Every July 11, we mark World Population Day to raise awareness of our growing numbers and the effects on global development. Today, the world population is over 7 billion and continuing to grow. Yet, many women around the world still do not have the right to plan the size and spacing of their families.

    Every woman deserves the right to ensure that all pregnancies are wanted and all childbirths are safe. When a woman has control over her reproductive health, her decision-making power in other aspects of her life grows. She’s empowered to voice her opinion in her family and community, placing her in a stronger position to demand other rights and bring about change.

    In order to make reproductive rights a reality, all women around the world — married and unmarried, young and old, no matter their circumstance or identity — deserve to have contraceptive information and health services available to them throughout their lives.

    At MADRE, we work with our partner organizations to promote and provide resources for family planning so that women can decide for themselves on matters regarding sexual and reproductive health without facing discrimination or coercion. For example:

    • In Israel and Palestine, we work with our partner organization, Midwives for Peace, a grassroots network of Palestinian and Israeli midwives. These midwives work together to provide prenatal care and childbirth support to guarantee safe childbirths to women in the West Bank, impeded by the Israeli occupation from reaching hospitals. The Safe Birth Project ensures that the reproductive rights and safety of Palestinian women in the West Bank are attended to, despite the conflict that surrounds them.
    • In Barcenas, Guatemala, we work with our partners at the Women Workers Committee to organize health fairs for women to receive information on family planning, undergo reproductive health check-ups, and obtain other vital care. These well-informed women become empowered to demand their rights and take control of their family planning.

    The freedom to plan your family is a human right that must be protected for all women everywhere. When women can make their own decisions about their health and well-being, they are positioned to lead in their communities. On this World Population Day, let’s re-commit to work towards a future where every woman has that opportunity.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Kat Noel in: Africa Emergency & Disaster Relief Guatemala Indigenous Peoples Iraq Middle East Peace Building Sexual Rights Syria Violence Against Women Website

    What we’ve written, read, listened to, remembered, watched and been inspired by this week

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Kat Noel in: Emergency & Disaster Relief Haiti Human Rights Advocacy Indigenous Peoples Iraq Middle East Peace Building Syria Violence Against Women Website

    The call to protect women and children amplifies as the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict comes to a close, militants threaten to gain control in Iraq and families in Nigeria continue to demand the safe return of their daughters.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Yifat Susskind in: Middle East Syria Violence Against Women Website Yifat's Take

    Earlier this month, MADRE joined our sisters and survivors worldwide for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the largest convening ever on this issue. 

    The success of this summit relies on activists holding governments accountable to their pledges. Last year, 122 countries signed a declaration to end sexual violence in conflict, and this conference grew out of that stated commitment.

    However, unless governments seize the opportunity to learn and change, we will not see the policy changes we need to protect women. And unless we confront sexual violence in conflict – by gathering evidence, providing services to survivors, and prosecuting offenders – the echoes of war will live on long after any peace agreement is signed.

    Even with war raging, we can still challenge rape. Syria is a key example. Women’s rights activists there are working to prevent and document sexual violence, provide peer counseling and outreach, train and sensitize doctors to recognize rape and respond effectively, and more. They are passing out information cards and leaflets to checkpoint military guards warning them that sexual abuse, from forced prostitution to rape, is a crime under international law. This strategy works because assailants are not afraid of domestic prosecution. But they know what has happened to military who commit these crimes in other countries after conflict ends.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Kay Harel in: Indigenous Peoples Mexico Violence Against Women Website

    A teenager is bullied by her classmates. They hood her head and beat her body. Then they post a picture of their attack on Facebook. Why? Because she is an Indigenous girl, brave enough and curious enough to seek an education at her neighborhood school.

    How many civic ordinances, national laws, international edicts, basic human rights, and moral principles are violated when her teachers and local authorities ignore these cruel crimes, the pleas of her parents and aunt, and the injustice before them?

    So MADRE brought this girl to the thirteenth annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to tell her story.

    On Thursday, May 15, which on the Mayan calendar is a day devoted to justice, we sat in solidarity with 17-year-old Angelina (not her real name), a Mixteca girl from Mexico, as she chronicled her two years of violations at the hands of her peers and public authorities. Together, we heard her rights and all relevant laws explained at a symbolic tribunal we helped organize, the “Tribunal de Conciencia de Mujeres Indigenas” (The Indigenous Women’s Tribunal of Conscience), which was a side event of the Forum.

    [L to R] Norma Sactic, member of the Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico and Claudia Vargas, Indigenous lawyer, commence the tribunal with a candle lighting ceremony.

    [L to R] Norma Sactic, member of the Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico and Claudia Vargas, Indigenous lawyer, commence the tribunal with a candle lighting ceremony.

    Symbolic tribunals articulate and advance justice for people who have experienced crimes that go unpunished. The first was staged after World War II. It was organized by Asian women outraged that the international trials of war criminals in Europe and Japan failed to address sexual slavery as a crime against humanity. Since then, national and regional symbolic tribunals have been organized around the world by women and Indigenous peoples. They are “a mechanism for civil society groups to unshroud invisibility,” said Guadalupe Martinez, subcoordinator of the Alianza de Mujeres Indignas de Centroamerica y Mexico said at our tribunal, where we heard several stories like Angelina’s and shared strategies for holding these healing programs.

    Mexican attorney Nuria Gonzalez Lopez acted the part of judge on behalf of the Mexican NGO Consejo para Prevenir Eliminar la Disrcimiacion de la Cuidada de Mexico (COPRED, Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discriminiation of the City of Mexico), an organization that is advocating for justice for Angelina. Ms. Lopez detailed the rights that were violated when Angelina was tormented by her peers, ignored by the teachers charged with the safety of their students, turned away by local government officials, and disregarded by other authorities.

    “The state’s obligation to protect its citizens was not met,” Ms. Lopez said. At least ten sets of legal documents exist in Mexico to protect the rights of children, she said, yet none was invoked. Nor was Angelina informed of them. Mexico has laws against discrimination, but the children were not chastised. They were not told they were breaking the law. Local, national, and international laws protecting children, women, and Indigenous people. Laws promising education and equal opportunity. All were violated, none were mobilized. The events violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    [L to R] Attorney Nuria Gonzalez Lopez, Angelina, and an activist from Mexico.

    [L to R] Attorney Nuria Gonzalez Lopez, Angelina, and an activist from Mexico.

    Any child who is bullied thinks, “It’s not fair.” Any child denied justice by the adults responsible for protecting her feels that unfairness. The rights enumerated by Ms. Lopez articulated the justice due Angelina. She smiled, ever so slightly, as she listened. Just hearing her rights was a vindication.

    Angelina assumed a false name to speak the truth. She traveled to New York City without her father’s consent. “Today, I give my personal testimony. I sadly say to Mexico, enough is enough.” In full freedom, no bullies in sight, Angelina held steady on her international platform, declaring: “When children suffer, society suffers.”

    “Angelina is like a phoenix,” Angélica García, subdirector at COPRED, said afterwards.

    “We must be moved by love,” said Ms. Martinez of Alianza de Mujeres Indignas de Centroamerica y Mexico. “We want laws not to be dead letters. We must get justice for little girls.”

    The tribunal was organized by MADRE, the Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico, and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI); supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York City Office; and facilitated by United Methodist Women.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • Published by Kat Noel in: Indigenous Peoples Latin America & Caribbean Peace Building Sexual Rights Violence Against Women Website Women's Health

    Recently, our partner Tarcila Rivera Zea – President of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA) and of MADRE’s sister organization CHIRAPAQ – sat down with UN Women to discuss her participation in the 1996 Beijing World Conference on Women and the rights of Indigenous Women. 

    Tarcila during the 2007 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    Tarcila during the 2007 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    “After almost 20 years [since the Beijing Conference], we’ve been able to agree on the topic  of violence. We’re united, indigenous women from all parts of the world, and also with the women’s movement. We’re certainly not alone! So this is a great step forward, and the foundation for the future.

    Today, we indigenous women have our own identity, our own voice. And I believe that we’ve broken the silence. We’ve tried to break the silence in the most private arena: the home, the family, the community. And we’ve worked considerably over the years, at national and international level, so that now we’re not ashamed to call ourselves indigenous women…”

    “Based on the progress in international and national policies, we indigenous women want to be recognized, respected and included in actions affecting our lives. We want to participate fully. We don’t want decisions about the future of our lands, territories, natural resources, the right to food, health and education, to be taken without reference to us.”

    Read more here.

    Digg This
    Reddit This
    Stumble Now!
    Buzz This
    Vote on DZone
    Share on Facebook
    Bookmark this on Delicious
    Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
    Shout it
    Share on LinkedIn
    Bookmark this on Technorati
    Post on Twitter
    Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
    none
  • tag cloud

    archives

    Follow us on Twitter

    Find Us Elsewhere

    Donate to MADRE

    Features

    Blogroll

    Human Rights and Social Justice Organizations

    Women's Media Organizations