MADRE Statements

Human Rights Abuses in Honduras: An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Posted on: Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keywords: Honduras, Latin America, Economic Justice, Peace Building

Open Letter to the Secretary of State of the United States of America
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Department of State
Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are writing to you as a world leader in women’s rights. Your courageous track record on this issue has not only inspired hope among women everywhere, but also moved mountains to make an enormous difference in women’s lives.  

We turn to you now in recognition of your extraordinary commitment and with great respect to urge you to address the abuses of women’s human rights occurring at present in Honduras. As numerous national and international human rights groups have documented, the de facto regime has engaged in a systematic campaign of intimidation, physical and sexual abuse, and torture. Increasingly, women have been the target of this campaign. We urge you to condemn the violence unleashed against the Honduran people, and in particular against Honduran women, and to take every peaceful measure possible to avoid further violence.

On November 2, representatives from Honduran women's organizations stood before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and presented a grim picture of violations of women's human rights by the coup regime.

They reported a general climate of intensified and increased physical, verbal, and psychological abuse of women that included the following:

  • Women suffer physical aggression, including kicking, beating, insults, and deep contusions caused by nail-studded police batons; rape; sexual abuse; and attacks with tear gas. In at least two cases the aggression resulted in death.
  • The most prevalent forms of police and military violence against women involve insults and beatings aimed at women's crotch areas, breasts, hips, and buttocks.
  • Of the 240 cases registered, 23 women were victims of groping and beatings targeted at the breasts and crotch area, as well as sexual insults and threats of sexual violence.
  • Of these 23 cases, 7 involve rapes (in the cities of Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choloma, El Progreso, and Danli.) These were all gang rapes carried out by police and used explicitly to "punish" women for their involvement in demonstrations.
  • Since June 28, there has been an increase in the incidence of femicide. According to a report on violence against women produced by United Nations Development Programme and the Autonomous University of Honduras, 312 women were violently murdered between January and December of 2008; an average of 26 femicides per month. Until March of 2009, there were 16 per month. According to figures from the Office of Women's Rights, 325 femicides had been reported through the end of September (an average of 31 per month), and during the month of July alone there were 51 femicides.
  • Nine women LGBT activists have been killed since the coup, with their bodies showing evidence of torture. The state has refused to perform  a forensic autopsy for two of the women.
  • Since the Decree of September 21 that suspended civil liberties, peaceful protests have moved from the main streets to the neighborhoods where the military has attacked residents. This has had a disproportionate affect on women, as they and their children become trapped by fear or military occupation in their homes. Women attempting to flee the attacks have been shot.
  • Women have been detained by police or military for  hours and even days, without charges or access to legal counsel. Women detainees have also been deprived of medicine, food, and water.
  • The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights required the Supreme Court of Honduras to provide protective orders for 92 women who fear for their lives under the coup regime. The pro-coup Court has taken no action.
  • Feminists and women leaders of the opposition to the coup regime have received death threats from the police and military, or by e-mail or on cell phone voicemail.
  • The state institutions responsible for dealing with women’s rights violations no longer function to protect women’s rights or even receive complaints. Since those responsible for investigating cases are often the perpetrators of the crimes, women are unwilling to come forward to report crimes.


The situation for Honduran women constitutes a human rights crisis. As Secretary of State, you have declared women’s rights to be a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. At the United Nations, you have worked to ensure that women’s rights and well-being are a matter of international and global concern, and have stated that allowing women’s rights to be violated with impunity in one place, jeopardizes women`s rights everywhere. Today, we urge you to confirm that in Honduras women’s rights are human rights and must be protected.

It was the rupture of democratic order in the country that gave rise to the current crisis in women’s human rights in Honduras. Therefore, only an immediate return to constitutional government can stop the rapid deterioration of women's rights.  Hastily improvised elections-- without the full participation of Honduran society, international recognition, or the reinstatement of the elected president--cannot be free or fair and do not guarantee a return to rule of law. Only a return to rule of law can reestablish legal institutions for redress of human rights violations and end the current situation of impunity for crimes against women.

We ask that you investigate the violations of women’s human rights in Honduras. We urge you to condemn the orchestrated campaign of violence against women being waged by the current de facto regime. Finally, we urge you to insist on a withdrawal of armed forces from the streets, neighborhoods, and homes of Honduras.

The current abuse of women of Honduras imperils the future of Honduras and the region, as it deeply marks the lives and futures of Honduran women. We look to your leadership now. Please step forward, as you have done elsewhere, and work to stop the violence now.



Sincerely,

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative
Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative
Mary Robinson, Realizing Rights
Radhika Balakrishnan, Executive Director, Center for Women’s Global Leadership
Robin Morgan, Founder and President, Sisterhood is Global Institute
Frances Kissling, Visiting Scholar Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
Washington Office on Latin American (WOLA)
Sara Gould, CEO and President, Ms.Foundation
Frances Fox Piven, Author
Vivian Stromberg, MADRE
Laura Carlsen, Center for International Policy, America’s Program
Kavita Ramdas, President & CEO, Global Fund for Women
Lisa VeneKlasen, Executive Director, Just Associates (JASS)
Women of Color United, USA
Lydia Alpizar, Executive Director, Association for Women’s Rights in Development
Feminist International Radio Endeavor
Urvashi Vaid, Executive Director, Arcus Foundation, USA
Xuan Nguyen, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
Marjorie W. Bray, California State University
Pablo Delano, Professor of Fine Arts, Trinity College, Hartford CT
John L. Hammond, Professor, CUNY
Daniel Moshenberg, Director, Women's Studies Program, George Washington University
Serra Sippel, President, Center for Health and Gender Equity
Paquita Cruz, Costa Rica
Forrest Hylton, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Universidad de los Andes
T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa
Catherine C. LeGrand, Associate Professor, McGill University
Derrick Hindery, Assistant Professor, International Studies & Geography, University of Oregon
Alda Facio, Costa Rica
Deborah Holmes, Vice President of Communications, Global Fund for Women
Celeste M Espinoza de Verderosa, Louisville, KY
Carli Rogosin, Botswana Program Manager, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center, UMDNJ
Barbara Y. Phillips, Chicago, Illinois
Laura K. Jones, Public Health Research Specialist, Chapel Hill, NC
Caroline Earle, Program Coordinator, CREA
Vivian Trumblay, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Francisco J. Barbosa, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder
Yajaira M. Padilla, Assistant Professor, The University of Kansas
Tim Jeffries
Leo J. Garofalo, Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College
James E. Wadsworth, Associate Professor of History, Stonehill College
Eliza Willis, Grinnell College
Susana Kaiser, Ph.D., Department of Media Studies, University of San Francisco
Mary Gilbert, Quaker Earthcare Witness
Shana Rapoport, Project Manager, University of Southern California
J. Patrice McSherry, Ph.D., Director of Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program, Long Island University
Amy Hagerdon
Paul K. Eiss, Associate Professor of Anthropology and History Department of History, Carnegie Mellon University
John Lamperti, Professor Emeritus, Dartmouth College
Phoenix Women Take Back the Night
Dianne Post, Attorney Phoenix Arizona, USA
Claudia Aburto Guzman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Spanish, Bates College
Brian Turner, Chair, Department of Political Science, Randolph-Macon College
Karyn Stein, Masters of Rural Development Management, Portland, Oregon
Michael Collins
Scott Campbell, Writer, NYU Grad Student
Chuck Walker, Director, Hemispheric Institute on the Americas, University of California, Davis
Robert Naiman, Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy
Eloise Vitelli, Director of Program & Policy, Me Centers for Women, Work, & Community
Prof. Sarah Cline, Department of History, University of California
W. L. Goldfrank, Prof. of Sociology and of Latin American & Latino Studies, UC Santa Cruz
Bill Henning , Vice President , CWA Local 1180
Dorinda Moreno, Fuerza Mundial, Elders of 4 Colors 4 Directions
Ngozi Nwosu-Juba, Women’s Human Rights Activist
Martin Sorbille
Emilio del Valle Escalante, Ass. Prof. of Latin American Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Simon Hay, Assistant Professor of English, Connecticut College
Dr. Michael Gottfried
Gael Murphy, CODEPINK
Steve Striffler, Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies, Professor of Anthropology, University of New Orleans
Anais Ruiz
Dr. Ricardo Pérez, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Eastern Connecticut State University
Carlos Ugalde, Professor Emeritus of Latin American Studies, Glendale Community College
Brent Metz, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Susan Kellogg, Professor of History and Director, Latin American Studies Program, University of Houston
Jeffrey Meer, Director, International Advocacy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Emily Achtenberg, Housing Policy & Development Consultant
Isabel G. Garcia, Chair, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos
Nancy Hesketh, La Jolla, CA
Konstantin Soroka, Jerusalem
Melissa Guy, Subject Specialist for Latin American and Iberian Studies, Arizona State University Libraries
Sally Fisher, Founder and President Intersect Worldwide
Sarah Shannon, Executive Director, Hesperian Foundation
Cecilia Guthrie Boone, President, Boone Family Foundation
Robert Armstrong
Rebecca Crane, Website and Online Membership Coordinator, MADRE
Laura Roskos, Ph.D., Co-President of U.S. Section, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Nancy Munger, Co-President of U.S. Section, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Ana Silvia Monzón, Voces de Mujeres, Guatemala
Yarman Elaine Jimenez Ramirez , Radio Feminista
Daniel Z. Brito, Legislative Assistant, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva
Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor Pomona College
George Ciccariello-Maher, University of California, Berkeley
Derrick Hindery, Assistant Professor of International Studies and Geography, University of Oregon
Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University
Julie Elliott, Social Worker / Therapist, Samoa
Janeane Harwell, Albuquerque, NM, USA
Maureen O'Connor, East Falmouth, MA, USA
Maria Soledad Cervantes Ramirez, Amnesty International-Mexico
Janae Choquette, Olympia, WA, USA
Lori Bagley, USA
Luz Helena Sanchez Gomez, Medical Doctor, MPH, Columbia
Brett C. Stockdill, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Northeastern Illinois University
Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris, Colonel, USAFR, Ret.
Dr. Arthur J. Kubick, Providence, RI, USA
Tupac Enrique Acosta, TONATIERRA
James F. Hopgood, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Northern Kentucky University
Marta Sanchez Soler, Coordinator, Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano, Miredes
Elizabeth Liang, USA
Julie Leininger Pycior, USA
Blase Bonpane, Ph.d., Director, Office of the Americas
Rachel Bruhnke, Peace Corps Honduras 1993-1996
Heather Williams, Associate Professor of Politics, Pomona College
E. A. "Tony" Mares, poet, writer
Paul Krumm, Kanopolis, KS, USA
Janise Hurtig, USA
Sonia Ticas, Associate Professor, Linfield College
David Naguib Pellow, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota
Bill Dain, USA
Jeanne Koster, Watertown SD, USA
Mo Hume, University of Glasgow
Roberta E. Richardson, Melbourne, FL,USA
Dr. Helen Fox, University of Michigan
Déborah Berman Santana, Professor, Mills College, Oakland CA
Lynda Yanz, Executive Director, Maquila Solidarity Network
Ana Carcedo, CEFEMINA, Centro feminista de Informacion y Accion, Costa Rica
Mujer No estás Sola, Costa Rica
Dr. Marc Zimmerman, Professor, Department of Modern & Classical Languages, Director, World Cultures and Literatures & Global CASA/LACASA Books, University of Houston
Ann Marie Saidy, Costa Rica
Sara Plaza Moreno, Teacher
John Inglis , Dayton, OH, USA
Bernardita Llanos, Chair of the Modern Languages Department, Denison University
Fred Swan, USA
Frances Chavarria, WILPF – Costa Rica, Heredia Section
Simone Buechler, Ph.D., Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
John Hyland, retired professor
Norma Enríquez - CLADEM - Coordinación  Regional
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Centro de Derechos de Mujeres – Tegucigalpa, Honduras
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Max Gluckman Professor of Social Anthropology & Co-Director, Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, The University of Manchester
Madeline Breslin, Dayton, Ohio, USA
Robert Rankin, Pax Christi Austin, TX, USA
Alejandra Massolo, Grupo Interdisciplinario sobre Mujer, Trabajo y Pobreza, GIMTRAP A.C. México
Dr, Amparo Chantada, PhD, Professor, la Academia de Ciencias de Republica Dominicana
William O. Walker III, Historian
Barbara Weinstein, Professor of Latin American History, New York University
Jeanne Chadwick, Publisher/Editor My Two Beads Worth
Denise Stanley, Associate Professor of Economics, California State University-Fullerton
Juanita Sundberg, Professor, University of British Columbia
Regina Fonseca, Feminista en Resistencia, Honduras
Kathleen Laurila, Women Graduates-USA
Verona Fonte, Ph.D., President Iris Arts & Education Group, Berkeley, CA
Rosemary A. Joyce, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Irvine
Molly Todd, Professor of History and Latin American Studies, Agustana University
Mike Hammer, Realtor
Carla Cheshire, USA
Troy D. Hill, Doctoral Student, Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
O'Neill Blacker-Hanson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History,Valparaiso University
Patria Jimenez, El Closet de Sor Juana. Mexico Gloria Careaga, Fundacion Arcoiris, Mexico
Rosa Isabel Calix, Honduras
Vivian Carlip, Editor and Economist (retired), USA
Molly Madden , Minnesota, USA
María Sánchez Martínez, Spain
Nancy Mikelsons, Academic researcher & Political Activist, Oak Park, IL, USA
Jody Pavilack, Assistant Professor, History Department, University of Montana
Dr. Arturo Robledo Martínez, Dept. Energia, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
Cristina Gallego Gamazo
A.F. Saidy, M.D.
Jessie Gleckel, Atlanta, GA, USA
Ashleigh Monroe
Rev. Mark A. Johaningsmeir &  Ms. Peggy A. Johaningsmeir Aurora, CO, USA
Amber Howard
Jane H. Bayes, Professor, Political Science Department, California State University, Northridge
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, ASTITVA, India   
María Victoria Whittingham Munévar,Ph.D., Senior Researcher
Alessandra P. Rezende Teixeira, Jus Humanis Human Rights Network, Sweden
Rosemary Dzuvichu, Nagaland University, Director, Indigenous Women Resource Centre, India
Dra. Luisa Ortiz Pérez- México D.F.
Dr. Lorraine Cohen, Professor of Sociology, LaGuardia Community College
Jordan D. Levy, MA Student, Socio-Cultural Anthropology, University of Western Ontario
Hester Eisenstein, Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York
Sofia Martinez, Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound & Mora County, New Mexico, USA
Bradley A.U. Levinson, Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
Lead Editor, Inter-American Journal of Education for Democracy , Associate Professor of Education
Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latino Studies, Indiana University
Dick Overfield, Rio Rancho, NM, USA
Maritxu Chastellier Iriart, Costa Rica
R. Jane Ginn, MRP, AIT, Professor at the University of Phoenix
Erin Kliewer, Executive Director, STITCH
Rosa-Linda Fregoso, PhD, Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California Santa Cruz
Charlotte Young, Activist
Esther Hernández-Medina, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology Department, Brown University
Nancy A. Matthews, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Justice Studies and Women's Studies, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL
Deborah M. Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law Director of Clinical Programs School of Law University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
David L. Wilson, Co-editor, Weekly News Update on the Americas
Emile Schepers, Ph.D. Cultural Anthropologist, Virginia, U.S.A.
Dr. Gloria F. Waldman- Author, Professor Emerita, CUNY
Alicia Ely Yamin, JD MPH, Joseph H. Flom Fellow on Global Health and Human Rights, Harvard Law School
Joanna Kerr, Director, Policy & Outreach, Oxfam Canada
Dr. Mary Goldsmith, Coordinator of Graduate Program in Women's Studies, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco, Mexico City
Dr Lucy Taylor , Adran Gwleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol / Department of International Politics, Prifysgol Aberystwyth University
Dr Francisco Dominguez, Programme Leader for Spanish and Latin American Studies, Head of Centre For Brazilian and Latin American Studies, Department of English, Languages and Philosophy Middlesex University Trent Park campus Bevan
Bilkis Olagoke, Assistant ICT Officer, BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights
Christina Laur, Coordinator, Truth, Justice and Reparation Program, Consejería en Proyectos
Brigid Inder, Executive Director, Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice
Dorothy Reik, PDSMM
Diana Paton, Reader in Caribbean History, Newcastle University
Anita Rapone, Professor Emerita, State University of New York--Plattsburgh
Mark Healey, Assistant Professor, History, UC Berkeley
Sarah Buck Kachaluba, Ph.D., Humanities Librarian, Robert Manning Strozier Library
Teresa Gutierrez, IAC National Co-Director, National IAC Coordinator Immigrant and Latin American Projects
Alison Lee, Arizona State University
Joshua Sperry, Organizing and Political Coordinator, Engineers and Scientists of California
Sarah Patton Moberg, USA
Lionel Heredia, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Amy Bell - Masters Student of Latin American Studies in Newcastle, UK
Rev. James E. Flynn, Masonic Homes, KY, USA
Amanda Martin, Director, Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D., Executive Director, The Fellowship of Reconciliation

 


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