A Guatemalan femicide court issued the first conviction on Tuesday, September 14, against one of 22 teachers and workers of the Ministry of Education accused of sexual abuse of an equal number of girls in recent years in Alta Verapaz.
The historic sentence ruled 27 years in unchangeable prison for the crimes of rape and sexual assault on Armando Filiberto Vaidez Juárez, alias “El Profe”, for having sexually abused “Eliza”, a 15-year-old indigenous girl, whom For reasons of identity protection, your name is reserved.
According to the investigations validated by the court, Vaidez Juárez exercised his local power as director of the Departmental Coordination of the educational portfolio and raped the minor between 2018 and 2020, when she was only between 12 and 14 years old.
Vaidez Juárez is the first of 22 public system teachers accused of 22 sexual abuse of Mayan Q’eqchi ‘and Poqomchi girls from the north of the country, all represented by the Human Rights Law Firm with a Feminist Approach.
Lilian Vásquez, representative of the entity and therefore a lawyer for the 22 abused minors, did not hesitate on Tuesday to show her emotion because “there is hope for all the girls who have been victims” and thanked the families for allowing her to “be the technical voice and a link in justice. We owe it to them, we want and we believe that schools should be safe ”.
“Marcela”, the mother of “Eliza” and who appeared as a witness during the criminal process, told EFE Agency that she hopes that the aggressor will serve the maximum prison term for his crimes and that as a measure of reparation psychological assistance will be provided to him. the youngest and her.
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“Eliza” liked to play basketball and with her dolls, but her family said that after the abuse against her her character changed to sad and silent. The family also mentioned that they fear for his health and state of mind, which deteriorates every day at his scarce 15 years.
The other cases
The first to receive and listen to the abused girls were the workers of the Nueva Esperanza Community, an educational project that seeks to help minors at risk within the department of Alta Verapaz, located in northern Guatemala, specifically 250 kilometers from the capital. from the country.
In addition to this ruling against “El Profe”, three other cases are in the final phase of the trial, pending a favorable resolution for the girls and adolescents.
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Among the 22 minors abused by teachers is “Teresa”, who has just turned 18 years old. “Teresa” was abused for two years at her school and her case is next on the list to conclude and reach a sentence next October.
“I like to paint at night, I can only paint at night, when everything is silent and I am alone,” mentioned “Teresa” in a previous interview when showing one of her new paintings, with which she seeks to leave behind the consequences of abuse continued and whose art gives him a reason to keep going.
For the coordinator of Human Rights and Attention to the Victim with emphasis on violence against women in the Nueva Esperanza Community, María del Rosario Pineda, the sentence “is a dose of confidence, like putting a seed in the ground and watering with the first drops of water of something new that is resurfacing ”.
The sentence, Pineda adds, is “to have done justice, it is an act of prevention, that is to say that we did believe the victim.”
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Similarly, Father Sergio Godoy, director of the Nueva Esperanza Community project, points out that the culture of silence in Guatemala and corruption have allowed cases such as those of the 22 girls.
“There are cases in which the aggressor has a certain ascendancy, so there is a tendency to keep quiet and seek a pact of silence between the victim and the aggressor. In the case of teachers, their only retaliation was transferred to other work spaces. But in the case of domestic violence, it tended to be totally silenced, ”said Godoy.
During the first seven months of 2021, the Guatemalan Prosecutor’s Office had registered almost 37 thousand cases of violence against women, in addition to 5,389 complaints of abuse against children and 5 thousand 72 sexual assaults against women.
In addition, the Central American country registers a daily average of 237 complaints of attacks against girls and women, according to data from the Guatemalan justice system.