The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee focusing on violence against women in Guatemala in preparation for the Committee's 115th session, at which it will review Guatemala's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This submission offers information and suggested questions on gender-based violence for the Committee's List of Issues, which will guide its upcoming review of Guatemala.
In 2013, there were 31,836 reports of violence against women and 198 reports of femicide in Guatemala. Although Guatemala has the third highest rate of femicide in the world, the rate of impunity for perpetrators was approximately 98-99 percent in 2014. During its last review of Guatemala in 2012, the Committee expressed concern at the level of violence against women and the inadequacy of established investigation mechanisms. The government of Guatemala has taken some steps to combat domestic violence, most notably passing the Law on Combatting Domestic Violence (LCDV), but obstacles in enforcement and support structures prevent this legal framework from effectively protecting victims and holding offenders accountable. Guatemala established agencies and institutions to support legislation, including the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, but deficiencies in the legal system hinder their success.
Deeply entrenched biases regarding the role of women in society have perpetuated violence against women, resulting in acceptance of domestic abuse as "normal." The Advocates interviewed women survivors who fled violence in Guatemala, and who shared their experiences that confirm the inadequacies of Guatemala's legal and judicial systems. In addition to sexual assault by the intimate partners, many women reported experiencing sexual violence committed by relatives, neighbors, or strangers. Reports from asylum seekers also confirm that gangs are committing rape, sexual assault, and murder. Impunity for perpetrators of gender-based crimes remains very high due to minimal training of police in investigating sexual violence, government bias against female victims of violence and errors in the investigation process.