When violence is attacked with violence, women become both victims and defenders. They are disproportionately and differently affected by violence, violation of human rights and the erosion of community. Yet Mesoamerican and the U.S. governments continue to fund militarist enforcement policies framed as counternarcotics or anti-terrorism that arm and train men to patrol and control the population that put women at great risk.
Twenty years since the alarm was first sounded in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua due the large number of women murdered with signs of torture and sexual abuse, the phenomenon has spread to the rest of the country.
Our International Observatory of Women’s Human Rights and Resistance formed with the premise that women’s human rights cannot be supported in a non-democratic society and democracy cannot develop in a climate of human rights violations, such as Honduras’. We found that neither democracy nor human rights fared well in the Honduras elections.
Women’s organizations are raising a red flag on Nicaragua. In a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 12, they reported rising violence against women, corruption and abuse of power in government when dealing with the crimes, and the increasing vulnerability of girls and young women.
Josefina Reyes began her career as a human rights organizer the way thousands of women across the globe do: defending her family and her community. The middle-aged mother staged a hunger strike to demand the safe return of her son after Mexican soldiers abducted him from their home. She lost another son to drug-war violence that has taken over the Valle de Juarez, where her family lives. Josefina spoke out against the violence and against abuses committed by the army and police. On Jan. 5, 2010, Josefina Reyes was shot to death.
When George W. Bush left the White House, the rest of the world breathed a sigh of relief. The National Security Doctrine of unilateral attacks, the invasion of Iraq under the false pretext of weapons of mass destruction, and the abandonment of multilateral forums had opened up a new phase of U.S. aggression. Despite the focus on the Middle East, the increased threat of U.S. military intervention cast a long shadow over many parts of the world.
Two years later, that sense of relief has given way to deep concern. After hopes of a something closer to FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy of (relative) non-intervention, we find ourselves facing a new wave of militarization in Latin America–supported and promoted by the Obama administration.
Marisela Escobedo’s life changed forever in August 2008 when her 16-year-old daughter Rubi failed to come home. What was left of Rubi’s body was found months later in a dump — 39 pieces of charred bone.
Rubi became one more macabre statistic in Ciudad Juarez’s nearly two-decade history of femicide. The murder of young women, often raped and tortured, brought international infamy to the city long before it became the epicenter of the Calderon drug war and took on the added title of murder capital of the world.
It is easy to think of impunity as a sin of omission. The hand not raised in protest appears genteel alongside the hand stained with the blood of the victim. Yet we learned from the testimonies of women on the frontlines of battle for gender justice that impunity not only perpetuates crimes against women, it teaches generation after generation how to continue the practice. Laura Carlsen writes from the International Gender Justice Dialogue in Mexico.
As we take stock of the situation in the Americas several situations jump out. The first is the massive violations of women’s human rights in Honduras under the coup regime. In this Special Issue of the Updater we present the full report presented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
It’s got millions of rightwing citizens calling Congress, sponsoring legislation, and writing manifestos in defense of U.S. sovereignty. It comes up in presidential candidates’ public appearances, has made it into primetime debates, and one presidential…