Exposing the problem of violence against women in Guatemala is the main goal of this project, result of the work done in San Marcos and the surrounding rural communities, with the support of "Direccion Municipal de la Mujer".
Due to the issue's sensitivity, and the fact that some of these women are still living abusive relationships, all the photos are strictly anonymous.
Femicide, human trafficking, sexual violence, incest, teen pregnancy, domestic/financial/psychological abuse are a major problem in Guatemala rating the country as third in the world after only El Salvador and Jamaica.
Femicide in Guatemala reaches record numbers with more than 6,000 women having been tortured, mutilated, and/ or murdered (UN, 2012), and the numbers continue to grow with an average of 1-2 women being murdered daily.
There are about 16,000 cases of reported rape per year, but the total number is likely much higher because of under-reporting due to social stigma. According to Doctors without Borders, "Survivors [of sexual violence] are stigmatized and they cannot easily find treatment in Guatemala yet. There are no resources and too little comprehension of patients’ needs by the doctors."
Furthermore, Guatemala has the highest teen pregnancy and preteen pregnancy rates in Latin America. Girls as young as 10 years old are impregnated by rape, and they usually carry these pregnancies to birth. Most of these cases of sexual violence are committed by the girl's father or other close male relative (89%).
One of the biggest challenges facing women in Guatemala is the country's deeply rooted patriarchal society.
According to María Machicado Terán, the representative of U.N. women in Guatemala, "80% of men believe that women need permission to leave the house, and 70% of women surveyed agreed." This prevailing culture of machismo and an institutionalized acceptance of brutality against women leads to high rates of violence.
Lack of education is also a major contributor to this problem. Many girls, especially in indigenous communities, don't go to school because of the distance from their house to the classrooms.
Lack of safe structures, lack of authorities support and recorded 98% impunity rate, are the main reason for the high amount of unreported cases of violence.
At the moment (March 2018) the only women's shelters giving accommodation to violence victims are located in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango, with a highly insufficient number of beds to cover the needs of the community. In San Marcos a shelter has been inaugurated early January 2018 but (late February) is still closed waiting for the authorization to be functioning.
Women's autonomous groups gathering once a week to discuss about strategies on how to reach financial independence and how to free themselves from abusive relationships, are the only support a woman can find in the community of San Marcos. Steps towards a positive change have been made by the government in 2008 approving a law against femicide but the problem of violence against women in Guatemala is still far from being solved.