Today marks the International Day Against the Eradication of Violence against Women. The issue does not go unnoticed, and although it is present in the electoral political discourse every four years it does not become facts, a sample is that in two years the ninth legislature has not approved a single specific law in favor of women.
Official figures reflect the problem. Data from the Women’s Observatory of the Public Ministry (MP) counted in the months that go from 2021, 57 thousand 899 victims. In addition, so far this year 230 daily complaints and 466 victims of alleged femicide have been reported, according to figures from the investigating body.
However, legislative responses do not arrive. Deputy Andrea Villagrán reported that in the legislative direction the Congress accumulates more than one hundred initiatives related to laws in favor of women filed. Few reach the Women’s Commission and none have been ruled.
“The work carried out by Congress in favor of women’s rights is mediocre, there is an agenda promoted by women’s organizations that was socialized before taking office -in 2020-, it was shared with all political parties once elected, Commitment letters were even signed, but that agenda was stagnant, ”lamented the congresswoman.
The Board of Directors of Congress could streamline the congested agenda in favor of women just by including them in the previous readings of each plenary session, but the initiatives do not even get that space.
This year, the Board assigned the Women’s Commission to the Victoria bench, which appointed deputy Manuel Rivera as president. He admits that most of his colleagues are not interested in the protection of women in that legislative room.
“We are in a complex, complicated Congress, where walking is not easy, proposing initiatives is not easy, it is a Congress that is totally stopped and not only in the legislation for women, but in many other issues. There are 16 decrees for a legislative year it is little, and in the advancement of women’s issues, nothing, ”Rivera acknowledged.
Not a priority
Of 160 deputies that make up the ninth legislature, only 31 are women, that is, 19.38% of the Congress, that little representation, in the opinion of Karla Campos, a researcher at the Mutual Support Group (GAM), may influence so that a agenda in favor of women.
“There is no parity between men and women within Congress, and this could be one of the reasons why Congress is not interested in the issue of women (…) the interests of all the legislatures that have existed throughout the years have shown that the issue of violence against women is not relevant to them ”, the researcher stated.
This disinterest is also perceived by Geidy de Mata, a political analyst at the Institute of National Problems of the Usac (Ipnusac), who sees how the political debt in favor of girls and women is historical.
“Here it is evident that for the Congress of the Republic it is not a priority to work for fundamental rights, particularly economic, cultural and social ones, because inequality and exclusion still prevail, mainly of women. What it does is that it provokes violence and even an increase in the power of organized groups that have been attacking human rights in Guatemala, ”he said.
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The statistics that reveal the vulnerability of girls and women in Guatemala show a reality that is not addressed, therefore, according to experts, Congress must prioritize laws that help provide security.
“The reforms that give life to the Isabel-Claudina alert would be very important, because the law is already in place, it has had some effects but some improvements are needed, including other institutions, this could be a priority for Congress to start take steps and show interest in attacking violence against women, ”Campos added.
Other projects that should be prioritized are those that seek to attack street harassment and prevent blackmail for sexual purposes on social networks, but the issues are only used as flags for political speeches, says Claudia Hernández, director of Fundación Sobrevivientes .
“When priority issues must be taken for the defense and protection of the human rights of women and girls, we do not see them walking, they only join the initiatives in certain contexts, such as now, within the framework of November 25, or March 8 – Women’s Day -, which are commemorative days, at that time they present initiatives, but the problem is the continuity to follow and approve them ”, he highlighted.
In 2022, for the third time in the democratic history of Guatemala, a woman will lead the Legislative Organism.
Arabella Castro and Catalina Soberanis have already led that political body, and as of January 14 it will be the ruling party Shirley Rivera. This could renew hopes of pushing for more laws in favor of women.
An attempt was made to obtain Rivera’s position and work plans for next year, but he did not respond to calls or messages on his cell phone.