IJM Guatemala: Hidden Abuse Revealed and Justice Secured for Both Sisters

IJM helped secure justice for two Guatemalan sisters who were abused by their father. He was convicted in two separate cases.
IJM helped secure justice for two Guatemalan sisters who were abused by their father. He was convicted in two separate cases.

GUATEMALA CITY – This week, a man was convicted for sexually abusing his daughter, only 4 years old when the abuse began. It is the second conviction against the father, who has already been convicted and imprisoned for abusing his other daughter.

The sisters now live in a secure children's home, where they take classes and continue to receive counseling. "Sometimes people say that a child has 'lost their innocence' when they have been abused. I don't think that's the case." says IJM Guatemala social worker Claudia Lujan. She adds: "She still has the spirit of a child." Claudia sees the girls regularly, and she recently shared that she has been struck by how resilient the children are, despite the awful abuse they have endured.

For older sister Magaly,* the abuse began when she was only 11 years old. The abuse remained hidden until August 2009, when IJM helped Guatemalan police arrest the father. As the case developed, Magaly revealed that her father had also been abusing her little sister, Camila,* after their mother would leave for work.

More than a year after her father was arrested, justice was finally secured for Magaly. He was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison. IJM initiated a second trial, this time to fight on behalf of Camila. On April 24, 2012, the father was sentenced to serve an additional 16 years in prison for sexually abusing his youngest daughter.

IJM social workers helped both girls throughout the trial, providing emotional support and counseling as the brave sisters spoke up about how their father had hurt them. IJM is helping the mother find a new house, and she is also participating in therapy to demonstrate that she can provide a safe home for the girls. Until then, the sisters will remain in the children's home.  

*Pseudonyms have been used for the protection of these IJM clients.  

Conviction, Latin America