Guatemala

Protecting Children from Sexual Violence

Experts identify Guatemala as the “most dangerous place for women in all of Latin America”1 and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence. Sexual predators go unrestrained, with only 6% of reported cases of sexual violence eventually reaching a verdict.2 When predators know that if they assault or rape a child they are unlikely to face any consequence whatsoever, sexual violence becomes a relentless, everyday threat for children.

When we first began working in Guatemala, expert friends in the human rights community cautioned us that the justice system was too broken to ever change—that our mission would be impossible.

But, alongside our government partners, we are proving every day that change is possible for children in Guatemala.

What We Do

RESCUE VICTIMS

When children are at risk of further abuse, we partner with the Public Ministry, Child Welfare Agency, National Civil Police and other agencies to get them to safety.

BRING CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

With the National Civil Police and other authorities, we help locate and arrest suspects, and partner with government prosecutors to ensure that perpetrators are convicted.

RESTORE SURVIVORS

We provide trauma-focused therapy for children who have survived sexual violence. We make sure families have the support they need for children to heal in a stable environment, including support groups, education assistance and more.

STRENGTHEN JUSTICE SYSTEMS

We have launched a System Reform project with Guatemalan authorities designed to substantially improve the way the justice system deters child sexual assault and how law enforcement and courts respond to child victims.

“Today we have the opportunity to pass on a brighter future to the children of Guatemala: a future with better protection against sexual violence. The time is right to join forces and take action!”

– Vinicio Zuquino, IJM Guatemala Director of System Reform

Our Progress

  • In 2012, IJM helped secure more than 1 out of every 3 convictions against pedophiles in the state where we work.

  • In August of 2014, the Guatemalan Vice President and the Interior Minister signed an agreement to partner with IJM for four years to strengthen the specialized Sex Crimes Unit of the National Civil Police. Learn More »

  • We have helped secure the conviction of 159 child predators in Guatemala since 2005.

  • We developed a set of recommended protocols that the Guatemalan Supreme Court issued as binding for all judges nationwide for taking testimony from child victims and other child witnesses in 2013.

  • We led the development of a set of best practices for handling the investigation and prosecution of child sexual assault cases that the Attorney General implemented in 2013 as a nationwide set of standards. Learn more »

  • We are an active member of an influential coalition aimed at increasing the awareness of child sexual assault and influencing government actors to implement policies to address the problem.

Our Teams in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA

ESTABLISHED 2005

Focus

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Field office director

Brad Twedt

Factsheet

IJM Guatemala

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1Guatemala Human Rights Commission. “Three Thousand and Counting: A Report on Violence Against Women in Guatemala.” (2007). http://www.ghrc-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ThreethousandandCountingAReportonViolenceAgainstWomeninGuatemala1.pdf

2International Justice Mission. “Study of the Guatemalan Criminal Justice System, Cases of Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents.” (2013).