By Alba Trejo
Guatemala, March (SEMlac). - A ship of the international pro-abortion NGO Women on Waves sparked controversy at the port of San José when it urged women up to 10 weeks pregnant to have abortion procedures performed on board if they so wished.
Local MPs, religious leaders and government authorities, including president Jimmy Morales, strongly opposed such an "aberration."
The treatment offered by Women on Waves consisted of two abortive bills and advisory services on board.
A report of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) indicated that a child gestated after rape is born every day in Guatemala and that around 65,000 women resort to illegal abortion every year.
Sixty per cent of the 17-million population is Catholic and goes to mass every Sunday.
There were 6,729 visits and 2,000 comments on Facebook alone, while the press release entitled Local authorities have expelled an abortion ship one day after arrival was read by 3,213 people and commented on by another 443.
Ana S. Monzón, a feminist activist, indicated that three centuries of women's struggles and demands were simply erased in one fell swoop.
Carolina Vásquez emphasized that women's rights have on this occasion been trampled upon, without taking any notice of the consequences.
"Those who protested against the ship will not look after the babies, so they should not interfere," said Edelnilson Hernández.
Flor Molina recalled that abortion-related mother mortality is the third cause of death for local women at present.
By Norma Loto
Buenos Aires, March (SEMlac Special). - Internet-related women went on strike last February 23 to demand fair treatment.
They are often poorly paid, underestimated, and even sexually abused.
The strike was staged under the Denial of Service (DoS) modality over Twitter.
Led by Silicon Valley workers, it was supported by Latin American ICT groups dealing with web rights.
A document on the strike indicated that women's situation in this field has remained unchanged over the years.
It added that women account for 20 to 30 per cent of the labor force in ICTs.
While they have the same education and professional experience as men, their wages are 28 per cent lower, they are 25 per cent more likely to be sexually harassed at work, and they make up only 11 per cent of CEOs in Silicon Valley."
The situation is even worse in the case of transgender and black women.
Women united will never be defeated
Angie Contreras is a Mexican digital activist who runs @QuintaesenciaR and is a member of a Youth Observatory (@YouthObs).
She told SEMlac that the action has paved the way for another strike next March 8 (International Women's Day).
"ICT and other engineering specialties continue to be dominated by men because of deeply rooted social stereotypes.
"We strongly favor the idea of digital feminism," she stressed.
"We want to promote women's active participation and rights on the web and to prevent offline violence practices from being reproduced online," she concluded.
By Soledad Jarquín and Zayra Hernández
Oaxaca, Mexico, February (SEMlac). - Many local men and women are currently resorting to esoteric rituals to experience real love.
Psychologist Ita Bico indicated that these services have been in high demand lately.
"Around Saint Valentine's Day, many people come for "tie-ups," said Erika Montesinos, of The Ritual, only two blocks away from Zócalo, that is, the city's main square.
"Our fees range from five dollars up to 250 dollars," she added.
Sonia Vera is one of her regular clients. "I feel better after I come for these rituals," she told SEMlac.
Cruz López, another psychologist who works for the People's Advocate in Oaxaca, said that love goes far beyond rituals and theories.
Miriam Mendoza told SEMlac about some of her "secrets" for those who are lovesick.
"One of them includes covering the photo of the beloved with bee honey," she noted.
On the other hand, Apolinar López is of the view that esoteric rituals are like exhaust valves.
Specialized services include cards reading, lucky charms, and even horoscopes.
"People simply like to give their free and full consent," he concluded
By Alba Trejo
Guatemala, February (SEMlac). - Many local children are taken to hospitals with broken bones and bruises, simply because their parents or other family members get mad at them.
They totaled 14,000 last year only. Most of them told caregivers how they had been sexually abused and threatened to death if they did not keep silent.
Forensic doctor Sergio Rodas indicated that most victims had been strangled, drowned or shot to death.
But, why are Guatemalan children more vulnerable than children in other countries of the region? Leonel Dubón, who works at a shelter, came up with a straightforward answer: Because the State thinks that children under 13 years of age simply do not exist.
"Boys and girls are not being given priority," he regretted.
Local prosecution services indicated that there were 14,000 reports of physical abuse and 7.000 reports of acts of sexual violence against children in 2016 alone.
Attorney-General Thelma Aldana found it necessary to establish an office for acts of violence against children only.
In fact, Nery Rodenas, representative of the Archbishopric Human Rights Office (ODHAG), announced that the Guatemalan State invests merely 3.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on children.
"Neighboring countries like El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama allocate around six per cent," she noted.
"Local children are being negatively affected by an authoritarian, male-chauvinistic, discriminatory culture," she added.
"We at ODHAG have been monitoring violence against our children since 1998," she announced.
Survivors Foundation director Claudia Hernández indicated that 80 per cent of local households have seen their children, women and older people abused.
Dubón deeply regrets that the Attorney's Office for Children, the Secretariat for Social Well-being and the National Commission on Children have no funds to operate.
Axel Romero, minister of the Interior, is seeking to raise awareness about children in marginalized areas.
On the other hand, Marco A. Garavito, a representative of the Mental Health League, is fully aware of the fact that abused children tend to adopt violent behaviors when they reach puberty.
"There are around 19,000 teenagers currently involved in criminal gangs, willing to extort and even kill for money," he concluded.
By Tamara Vidaurrázaga
Santiago de Chile, January (SEMlac). - Vicente (23) is in the process of changing his gender identity. He was born a girl and named Camila.
To this end, he has been forced to make long, cumbersome, disrespectful arrangements.
He did not like to wear dresses and skirts when he was only five. "I always asked my parents to buy me boy's toys," he told SEMlac.
He did not like it either when his body started to change at puberty. "I had to struggle against myself because I thought I had to be heterosexual and I was nonetheless attracted to women," he added.
At 21, a female friend told him that he may well be a trans person. He thought it through and decided to embark on his transition, although he feared rejection and abuse.
He has been seeking advice from the Legal Clinic at the University of Chile for over a year, and has undergone physical and psychological examinations at the Legal Medical Service to have his gender identity changed.
"The physical examination included asking me questions about my body and the psychological one, about potential child abuse. The professionals were all hostile, cold, distant," he recalled.
"You really get mad when you have to face so many hurdles to be who you want to be," he stressed.
Outright Action International's report entitled Mapping the rights of trans in Chile was supported by TranSítar Foundation and put together by Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD-Chile) (https://www.
Civil court requirements for change of name and sexual reassignment include medical examinations and witness testimonies about the applicant's life as a man or a woman for at least five years.
There is a law against discrimination that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. It has made it possible to establish a legal mechanism for this purpose.
A gender identity law
The Yogyakarta Principles set forth that States should take all legislative and administrative measures necessary to ensure full respect for and legal recognition of the gender identity chosen by every individual.
These principles are not being observed in Chile, however. The above-mentioned report recommended passing a gender identity law to regulate cases like that of Vicente.
A bill along these lines was submitted to Congress in 2013. If it is finally passed into law, it will stipulate that gender identity is a human right and will help secure full equality for trans people before the law.
In 2015, the Human Rights Commission at the Senate adopted a final text on amendments of birth certificates and minimum age for Civil Registry proceedings.
TranSÍtar director Niki Raveau emphasized that trans people of all ages should have the right to legalize their identity without having to appear in court.
"This law will certainly be a step forward, but there will still be a need to address issues for trans people like health care, education, and access to the employment market. We must follow the examples of Malta and Argentina in this regard," she concluded.
By Mercedes Alonso
Santo Domingo, January (SEMlac). - The call to march to put an end to impunity has generated a lot of expectation in the local population.
Originally scheduled for January 22, the event has sought to fight corruption and impunity after a case that involved a Brazilian construction company (Ode Brecht) and State officials on the island.
A press release indicated that the march will soon be held on various locations.
A campaign entitled Four per cent for education was launched in 2010 to ask the government to enforce a law that had been passed in 1997 setting forth that four per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be allocated to education.
Representatives of over 200 organizations and millions of ordinary people mobilized on the fourth day of every month ever since and up to 2013, all wearing yellow.
By the end of 2012, the government announced that the demand would be met. It had always invested only two percent of the GDP on this critical sector, which was one of the lowest investments in the region. Thirteen per cent of the population over 15 years of age was illiterate, and most schools were understaffed and overcrowded at the time.
The so-called Educational Revolution under President Danilo Medina has trained more teachers and built hundreds of schools and day-care centers.
However, in 2016, a total of 78 women were murdered, and 70 boys, girls and adolescents became orphans as a result.
After two decades of struggle and mass mobilization, the problem of gender and family violence remains.
A total of 77 women were killed by their husbands or sexual partners in 2015 alone, and 967 lost their lives between 2007 and 2016.
Against this background, the Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Women's Affairs decided to partner with social organizations, government institutions and cooperation agencies to raise awareness and seek to prevent and control violence.
Last January 1st, the local media announced that a man had killed his common-law wife with a stick and had committed suicide. Just a month before, a woman had been shot to death, leaving five children in orphanage, including a pregnant teenager.
Roberto Rodríguez, communication director in the central government, announced a permanent campaign to make women's rights visible.
Another initiative by the ministries of Labor and Women's Affairs and the Dominican Association of Free Zones had been undertaken in November 2012 to prevent and eradicate gender and family violence.
Among other campaigns are No aguanto más (Enough is enough); Si me quieres, no me dañes (If you love me, do not hit me); and El poder de tu voz (The power of your voice).
Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic continues to rank third on women's murders in the region, after Honduras and El Salvador, according to a report of the National Office of Statistics (ONE).
By Norma Loto
Buenos Aires, November (SEMlac Special). – The story of Alika Kinan (40) is
like an X-ray of white slave traffic linkage with State powers. She is not
the defendant, but the plaintiff at a judicial process to be undertaken in
Ushuaia (Argentina) on November 7.
“Being a prostitute was a source of pride because we were taken there to
sate gendarmes, military and police officers,” she wrote in a public letter
She was forced into prostitution for 20 years until October 2012, when there
was a police raid at the bar she was working in. She had never thought of
herself as a victim. Her fate had been written long before because her
mother, aunts and grandmothers had all been sexually exploited by her
Marcela d’Angelo, a member of the Campaign “No more women victims of
prostitution networks,” told SEMlac that Kinan is opening a door to demand
the State to take action against the violation of fundamental rights.
“I have survived white slave traffic and continue to be a victim of many
forms of violence: I was raped at 14. I am the daughter and niece of women
who were prostituted under the patriarchal system. My parents abandoned me
when I was 16 and I had to take care of my 10-year-old sister ever since,”
“I arrived in Ushuaia when I was 18 and had no identity document whatsoever.
I was considered to become a ´good prostitute´ because I had no criminal
record. And the local government issued a health booklet for me,” she
It was in this city where she met her former husband, a prostitution
consumer. They both settled down in Spain and formed a family. She became a
violence victim and decided to get back to Ushuaia with her daughters and
start working for traffickers.
Her trial involves another six victims, but she is the only plaintiff. The
defendants are Pedro Montoya and Ivana García (owners of the place), and
Lucy A. Campos (manager).
As she has often been threatened to death, such acts have merited unreserved
condemnation at #AlikaNoEstáSola (Alika is not alone).
D’Angelo told SEMlac that these threats are due to sensitive interests of
international sex trafficking networks.
She added that, in Argentina, there have been attempts at regulating
prostitution and using it to reduce unemployment among transvestites and
Against this background, the Attorney General’s Office on Human Trafficking
and Exploitation, which is led by Marcelo Colombo and Alejandra Mángano,
issued an official communiqué right after the trial began.
“We will defend not only Alika Kinan, but also over 1,000 victims who are
being exploited in silence,” it indicated.
“There is an urgent need for the State to provide victims with protection
and guarantee fundamental rights,” it concluded.
By Gabriela Ramírez
Mexico, October (SEMlac). – There is a critical need to strengthen
substantive, equal representation in the country, participants in a forum
held at the National Electoral Institute (INE) indicated.
Held last October 11-12, the event was organized by INE, the Electoral
Court, UN Women, the National Women’s Institute, and the Prosecutor’s
Participants agreed to adopt legal reforms for substantive equality and
horizontal/vertical parity, implement affirmative actions for women and
young people, and criminalize political violence.
They stressed that the political rights of women should not be limited to
vote and should include violence-free settings.
These new commitments were formally signed by Lorena Cruz, president of the
Women’s Institute; Lorenzo Córdoba, counselor at INE; María Alanís, judge of
the Electoral Court; Javier Bolaños, president of the Bureau of the House of
Representatives; Santiago Nieto, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office;
and Ana Güezmes, UN Women representative in Mexico.
Cruz made a call not to tolerate political violence against women in the
She underscored the urgent need to increase the number of women at municipal
governments, workplaces, schools and communities.
Bolaños indicated that civilian organizations should be actively involved in
the struggle for parity.
Alanís found it necessary to turn parity into a reality for local women.
“Despite the progress made, there is still resistance to see women taking
public positions,” she commented.
Güezmes stressed that parity paves the way for equality.
Parity, a serious issue
“Parity helps promote women’s participation in political life and
democracy,” said Carmen Moreno, executive secretary of the Inter-American
Commission at the Organization of American States.
“There is a regional consensus about political equality being governed by
parity standards,” she remarked.
“Parity has made it possible for women to account for 42 per cent of members
of the House of Representatives,” she noted.
Nieto highlighted the need for authorities to see parity as an overriding
Constancio Carrasco, president of the Electoral Court, said that the
struggle for women’s rights has been hard and long.
Marcela Eternod, executive secretary of the Women’s Institute, concluded
that women’s talent should not be wasted.
By Mercedes Alonso
Santo Domingo, October (SEMlac). – The Dominican Republic ranks on top of
the list of Latin American countries exhibiting high pregnancy rates and
consensual unions that involve girls under 15 years of age, a report of the
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicated.
It added that 13 girls under 15 give birth every day after having been raped
or sexually abused.
UNICEF representative Rosa Elcarte has asked local citizens to report sexual
exploitation cases to the police.
She told SEMlac that 60 per cent of poor girls under 18 are either married
or living in consensual unions. “They have one or more children,” she
“It is alarming to see how tolerant the Dominican society is. There are
girls and boys under sexual exploitation at tourist resorts and other areas
of the country,” she regretted.
Last September, UNICEF launched the campaign “No excuse,” in coordination
with the Office of the Attorney-General.
“The campaign seeks to raise awareness about these issues,” Elcarte
“There are no reliable statistical data on a recurrent phenomenon that is
deeply rooted in male-chauvinistic traditions,” she stressed.
Interviews with 146 minors under 18 at tourist resorts showed that many
children are getting involved in sexual relations with adults in exchange
Over 30 per cent of private school children said they have at some point
been approached by adults interested in having sex with them.
DR, a destination for sex?
“Some people believe that girls can be used to bring money home. This is a
gross violation of their human rights,” Elcarte told Hoy newspaper.
“Girls under 18 are not physically and psychologically prepared to make
sound decisions about sex. These acts are punished under international
laws,” she recalled.
“Over 70 per cent of children to teenage mothers are not registered at birth
because they have no ID documents available,” she stressed.
She thinks that progress toward teenage pregnancy prevention has been made,
but highlights the importance of education.
“In this context, we failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals in the
past and we are not likely to meet the Sustainable Development Goals at
present,” she regretted.
Out of 13 babies being born every day, 10 die of preventable causes. UNICEF
is working together with the Ministry of health under the Baby-Friendly
Hospital Initiative to improve care quality and promote vaginal delivery,
breastfeeding, and other good practices.
“We hope to reduce this rate, which has for 20 years been one of the highest
in Latin America, within the next five years,” she concluded.
By Sylvia R. Torres
Managua, July (SEMlac Special). - The case of a 20-year-old girl, who died a few hours after some cosmetic surgery last July 18, has become viral on social networks.
"Control over women's bodies is a mainstay of patriarchy," said Eva Blanco, a member of a feminist group in León.
Many people have argued that social pressure makes women pursuit an ideal model of beauty and that all individuals should have the right to make decisions over their bodies.
Feminist Gracia Oro urged to respect these decisions.
Frank Hooker, a member of La Corriente feminist program, recalled that the patriarchal system promotes beauty stereotypes while branding young women who die as a result of cosmetic surgery as conceited.
Dr. David Páramo has been accused of malpractice and homicide. He became "famous" in 2011, when a young man had an implant made by him "for better sexual performance."
Urologist Jorge Saborío accused him of medical negligence, because he had performed a procedure he was not qualified to use, under inappropriate conditions.
His cosmetic surgery service costs used to range from 230 to 3.200 dollars.
Another of his victims is Allison Molina (26), whose breast implants led to a pulmonary complication in July 2014.
Armando Siú, director of the Association of Cosmetic Surgeons, told media representatives that Páramo will not be accepted back.
University professor Ana V. Portocarrero highlighted the need to address patriarchal and racial components in beauty stereotypes.
She urged to defend the right to accurate and comprehensive information about these procedures.