Marta Julia’s Story – Guatemala
ASOGEN provides human rights support to women in Guatemala around issues of domestic violence and sexual predation. That their work involves risk was brought home when their office was firebombed in 2015. That their work is crucial is evidenced by Marta Julia’s story, a victim of incest.
Marta Julia’s history of incest began when she was raped by her father as a child of six. She told her mother because she was uncertain about what had happened to her; her mother didn’t believe her, and the abuse continued. When she reached adolescence Marta Julia learned that her little sister, Rosa Angelina, had also been molested; she decided she had to report what had happened to both of them. The girls went to ASOGEN where, over time, they began their healing with the agency’s psychological, medical, social, and legal services supported by Pangea grants.
ASOGEN’s legal department worked with the prosecutor’s office to take the father to court, where he was found guilty of aggravated rape of Marta Julia and sexual aggression toward Rosa Angelina. He is now serving a 32-year prison sentence. At the same time, ASOGEN’s doctor, psychologist and social workers treated the girls and encouraged them to participate in the center’s group activities for adolescent victims of sexual and other violence.
Marta Julia has recovered emotionally through individual psychotherapy at ASOGEN and continues to take part in ASOGEN support groups for young survivors of violence. She has been enabled to go on with her life.
This is a typical ASOGEN case of comprehensive assistance to a victim of sexual violence. While the Guatemalan government is legally mandated to provide funding to care for such victims, it simply does not have sufficient resources to address the country’s enormous problem of violence against girls and women. A recent study found that there are est. 31 rapes per day in Guatemala, 64% (1) of them against minors. ASOGEN Executive Director, Danessa Luna, recently testified about this serious issue before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
(1) “Prensa Libre”, March 17, 2016, p. 1, 2