One year ago in March 2016, a law was passed in Guatemala to create a special body designed to search for disappeared women, but it has still not been implemented, as 428 women are still reported missing.
The Public Ministry and women's groups are still working on a draft to submit to Guatemala's government outlining the mechanisms that allow the search body to function in practice.
The composition of search teams remains “an important part to work on,” said Alejandra Gonzalez, head of the Women's Office at the Public Ministry, “although we agree that the experts are the police officers.”
According to the official estimate issued by the National Police, 3,670 women were reported disappeared between Jan. 1, 2007, and March 1, 2017, including 428 who have yet to be found.
The most affected departments are Guatemala City, Escuintla, Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango and Suchitepequez.
Plagued by a legacy of brutal military violence, especially violence against Indigenous women, Guatemala continues to suffer a gender violence crisis. Many women in the Central American country are still struggling for justice in decades-old cases, as femicide has again risen in recent years.
According to official figures, over 5,000 women and girls were violently killed in Guatemala between 2008 and 2015, with over half of the victims being minors.
Femicides in Latin America
In November 2015, a group of 60 Guatemalan women’s organizations condemned the serious deterioration of women’s rights under former President Otto Perez Molina from 2012 to 2015.
According to activists, militarization is one of the key factors behind the criminalization of gender rights advocates, which often results in violence.
According to U.N. Women in Guatemala, at least two women are violently killed in the country every day. Rampant impunity fuels the widespread crisis of femicide.
Guatemala — along with its neighboring countries El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico — has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world.