Crimes Without Punishment: Violence Against Women

Musalo, K. Pellegrin, E. Roberts, S. (2010). Crimes Without Punishment: Violence Against Women in Guatemala: Hastings Women’s Law Journal.

Hastings Women’s Law Journal gives realistic insight to the issues surrounding domestic violence and the impact it has on victims attempting to flee to the USA. This journal begins with a passage about Rody, a Guatemalan victim of domestic abuse, and her journey to safety.  After years of being raped, beaten, and battered by her abusive husband, Rody was forced to leave her two children behind in order to escape the gender-based violence of Guatemalan culture. Upon entering America, her battle did not become easier. American judges did not want to grant Rody asylum, for fear of “opening flood gates” to anyone attempting to enter the U.S due to issues with domestic violence. However, with the help of The Obama Administration, Rody was able to seek asylum with her two children in the U.S.A permanently.

The catalyst of Rody’s asylum claims was the violence against women in Guatemala, gone without punishment. This article sheds light on the epidemic proportions in which domestic violence has risen in Guatemala. The article states, “during the past decade, over 4,000 women and girls have been killed. There have been successful prosecutions in no more than 2% of these cases, meaning that 98 out of 100 killers of women literally get away with murder. This wide spread impunity has been identified as a significant factor in the growing numbers of cases of violence against women.”

The sexual and physical abuse of women, specifically in the domestic setting, has gained international attention. This is being viewed as a positive development because changes cannot be made until problems are recognized. Activist in Guatemala have been successful advocators of laws aimed at demolishing gender-discriminatory provisions in Criminal and Civil Codes. However, in mid 2009, The Guatemala Human Rights Commission USA only produced one report on Femicide Law. These incidents are evidence of how long and hard change can be. Gender-based violence has been part of Guatemalan culture for more than five-hundred years and true changes within the culture and judicial system will take time. It is stated that for these changes to actually happen the Guatemalan government will need to be held accountable for their actions in aspects of cracking down on violence against women, thus establishing benchmarks for improvement in human rights.


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