This is pretty well outside this blog’s usual terrain, but last night I was hanging out with my friend Sommer and her sister Samantha who’s in town on behalf of Amnesty to raise awareness about a situation of which, I must admit, I was totally unaware of — the fantastically high rate at which women are being murdered in Guatemala, with the murderers operating with what amounts to utter impunity:
More than 2,200 women and girls have been brutally murdered in Guatemala since 2001. Up to 665 cases were registered in 2005; 527 in 2004; 383 in 2003 and 163 in 2002. In 2006, 299 cases have been reported between January and May — a faster pace than in 2005. . . .
According to Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman, up to 70 percent of murders of women were not investigated and no arrests were made in 97 percent of cases. In the few cases that are investigated, the process is usually flawed — forensic evidence is not properly gathered and preserved, few resources are allocated to each case and witnesses are denied protection.
The full Amnesty report is here. There’s been very little coverage of this in the United States, but the BBC has done a couple of informative articles on the subject. Now, unfortunately, nobody quite seems to know exactly what the policy remedy is here in part because nobody quite understands what’s happening. Amnesty does have some ideas, however, and one of those web form letter thingies they’d like you to take a look at, so please do.