Since 2001, thousands of young women and girls have been killed in Guatemala in an epidemic of unsolved murders. According to police statistics, the number of women slain has risen steadily from 383 in 2003, to 531 in 2004, to 665 in 2005. The first available statistics for 2006 list the number of women killed at 589. The majority of the victims were young, poor women under the age of 40. Many were students, housewives, factory workers, domestic employees, or workers in the informal sector; some of the victims were professionals.
Although the number of murders is alarming, the killing of women is not simply a question of statistics. A key characteristic in a large number of cases is the brutality with which the murders were committed. In many cases, the victims were raped, strangled, decapitated or otherwise mutilated.
In the face of this growing wave of brutal killings, the Guatemalan government has failed to bring those responsible to justice. Progress in the investigation of the murders of women has been fraught with numerous shortcomings, including a lack of technical capacity to preserve crime scenes, interrogate witnesses, and collect and preserve evidence, as well as a lack of political will to resolve the murders.
U.S. Members of Congress can play a vital role in supporting efforts to resolve these brutal killings. On January 25th, Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), with the support of Representatives Dan Burton (R-IN), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tom Lantos (D-CA), introduced House Resolution 100 to condemn the murders. The resolution:
- condemns the ongoing abductions and murders of women and girls in Guatemala;
- expresses condolences and deepest sympathy to the families of victims;
- recognizes the courageous struggle of the victim’s families in seeking justice for the victims, and
- recommends specific actions on the part of the U.S. President, Secretary of State, and United States Ambassador to Guatemala, to encourage Guatemala to properly investigate, resolve, and prevent these crimes.
H.Res.100 is an important step Representatives can take to stop the cycle of violence against women in Guatemala and seek justice for the families of the victims.
Contact your congressional representative to request that he/she co-sponsor the Resolution! Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to your representative’s office. Once connected, ask to speak with the foreign policy aide. Let him/her know that as a constituent you would like to see your representative co-sponsor H.Res.100 to support efforts to end to the killings of women in Guatemala. Members interested in co-sponsoring the resolution should contact Representative Hilda Solis’ office at 202-225-5464