Without girls there is no country

In the world, women of any age feel less secure than men; Perceived levels of insecurity vary from region to region, from country to country, and from community to community, but in general the perception is of greater insecurity (Gallup Poll 2018). This perception is not gratuitous.

How to feel safe in a country where in a single year more than 104 thousand girls and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 become pregnant (Osar / 2020)? How to feel safe in a family and, therefore, in a society in which they are raped and forced to forced pregnancies and imposed maternity hospitals that interrupt their own development? How could they feel safe if their teachers, bosses, and fellow students harass them in colleges, universities, and offices? How to walk safely in these streets where they are kidnapped, “put a hand”, harassed or locked up? Safe, in a country where they are burned alive in a State protection home? If they were safe they would not leave Guatemala.

I have always wondered how much social violence stems from violent experiences in childhood or from maternity wards that are carried out with contained rage. And how do we lift Guatemala up when the furthest from education and health are still girls, adolescents and women? And it affects, above all, the racialized bodies of indigenous girls, adolescents and women, much further removed from equal access to development opportunities, in a racist country. On the other hand, only from January to September the MP numbers documented 1,530 missing girls, adolescents and women; from 2000 to 2020 there were 12,830 violent deaths of women and femicides (GGM). And it is the MP that also points out that of the 3,543 victims registered for the crimes of sexual assault in 2019, 87% were girls, adolescents and women.

On the other hand, violence against girls and women affects not only the direct victims, but many indirect ones. They are exemplary practices and mechanisms of oppression that are learned in society. Others learn by seeing or experiencing this violence up close, regardless of whether it is physical, psychological, verbal, emotional, symbolic or economic; If the older sister is raped by the assailant in the house, the younger one hopes to be next; If the mother is beaten and the father frightens her, the daughters and sons experience terror with her and later replicate the violence in their own lives; If thousands of girls become pregnant as a result of rape, thousands of families and communities will rise up over an act of power and terror. If the entire society is silent about this, which is not normal, an entire society will suffer the consequences of rising up on so much violence.

Girls must be listened to, cared for, loved, and treated well. For many people this sounds like an exaggeration; for me it is the certainty that you have to say it a million more times and act accordingly. It is time to offer them safe, protective and healthy environments that go hand in hand with education, health and deep respect for their humanity. It is no longer the time for Lolitas in the movies or for unhappy child-wives. Girls are touched by joy, knowledge and respect for their humanity based on a comprehensive strategy of care, justice and care.

Recently, the government of Canada, within the framework of the MIRPS, through its minister Sean Fraser, announced a new initiative to empower and protect the girls of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The commitment is for 4 years and US $ 10 million, which IOM and UNHCR will be in charge of redirecting for the benefit, above all, of those affected by irregular migration and forced displacement. News like this is good.

They are in the center of a reimagined country and I am not their voice, because I have to accompany them but not represent them, as an expert voice recently said. That is part of the challenge: they at the center of policies, budgets, laws, our culture and development.


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