During my years as a psychologist and Rise Up Champion, I have witnessed many stories of girls and women unfold before my eyes. Although each story is unique, there are some commonalities among all women touched by child marriage. When I worked at the Forensic National Institute in Guatemala I was in charge of evaluating psychological damage in victims as part of their intake protocol.
Editor's note: Global Sisters Report is focusing on the efforts of sisters to end human trafficking as Talitha Kumthe international anti-trafficking network of religious, marks its 10th anniversary and launches its Nuns Healing Hearts campaigna project of Talitha Kum and the Galileo Foundation. The special series will run periodically through September, when Talitha Kum will hold its first general assembly. Since its founding inGSR has dedicated a section of its coverage to sisters who in various ways fight human trafficking.
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Here we are with the second part of this great interview. I really love that she had such fun with me and she really got crazy. It was a kind of new thing for both of us.
She and 10 other women have traveled 10 hours by car to Panajachel, a lake town in the southwestern highlands of Guatemala to show a group of journalists a typical lesson they give to the girls in their areas. The curriculum goes far beyond biology, helping girls think critically about gender analysis, personal and cultural identity, and sexual and reproductive health. While they are serious about the job at hand, the lessons themselves certainly allow for some silliness.
Did you know that a large percentage of sexy Guatemala women actually have Mayan heritage? Or that Guatemala has one the largest indigenous populations of Mayan descent in Latin America? Even if the ancient cities have long been reduced to ruins and visited by thousands of tourists as historical monuments, the descendants of the ancient Mayas are very much alive.
Angela is a gangly, giggly teenager in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and sneakers. She also is the mother of a baby she bore at age 14 when she had sex with her teacher but did not know where babies came from. Like Angela, many girls and women in Guatemala have unwanted pregnancies due to a lack of information about sex and their own bodies and endemic violence, according to women's healthcare campaigners.
Rates of crime in Guatemala are very high. An average of murders per week were reported inmaking the country's violent crime rate one of the highest in Latin America. However, not only has violence maintained its presence in the post-war context of the country following the Guatemalan Civil Warbut it has extended to broader social and economic forms of violence. The Guatemalan Civil War began in between the government and leftist actors, and it resulted in overdeaths.
Protecting Children From Sexual Violence. Many of the children we serve are from "red zones". Governments designate these areas as particularly dangerous because they are prone to natural disaster—but in this case, they are colored red because of extreme violence.
Violence against women in Guatemala reached severe levels during the long-running Guatemalan Civil Warand the continuing impact of that conflict has contributed to the present high levels of violence against women in that nation. Femicide in Guatemala is an extremely serious problem. According to a report by the Small Arms SurveyGuatemala has the third highest rate of femicide in the world, behind only El Salvador and Jamaica.