Thursday, May 14, 2009

Guatemala: A Unique Opportunity

I am very pleased to announce that I have been invited to join a Human Rights Delegation: "For Women's Right to Live" sponsored by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, August 1-9, 2009.

The broad focus is violence against women. This annual delegation focuses on women’s rights and the ongoing efforts to end discrimination and violence against women in Guatemala. We meet with individuals and community groups that have courageously spoken out against gender-based violence, as well as explore the broader context in which this violence takes place. Through meetings in the major cities and travel to rural communities, we see how Guatemala’s history and current human rights situation affect these efforts to secure women’s rights.

The delegation will meet with leaders in the Guatemalan women’s movement, including organizers, lawyers, survivors, and family members, working for both immediate security precautions and long-term systemic change in Guatemala. We will also visit one of the only domestic violence shelters in Guatemala and learn how women’s rights groups are empowering women in rural areas. We explore the wider socioeconomic and political contexts in which gender-based violence takes place, learn about the country’s complex history and ongoing efforts to end impunity, hear from leaders in the human rights movement about their work, and meet with government officials charged with monitoring human rights.

In conjunction with this, Karen Rotabi is integrating some adoption-specific visits to non-governmental organizations to hear about the violence and coercion used against birth mothers. We will visit Norma Cruz recipient of the U.S. Secretary of State's 2009 International Women of Courage Award. Director of the NGO Survivors Foundation, Ms. Cruz provides emotional, social and legal support to hundreds of victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and to the families of murdered women, combating the widespread impunity that too often accompanies the endemic violence against women in Guatemala. The NGO runs a victims’ shelter — one of only a handful in the country — and also fights to protect mothers whose babies are stolen as the first link in an illegal and lucrative supply chain for international adoptions. Cruz and her organization staged hunger protests of these mothers.

I will be joining adoptive parent members of PEAR such as Jennifer Hemsley and several social workers including Kathleen Leilani Ja Sook Bergquist from the Univ. of Las Vegas who she has written in her scholarship about the Hague Convention.

I will be the only mother who lost her child to adoption member of the delegation and am honored to represent our unique perspective.


maryanne said...

Congratulations! That is really impressive. I hope it is a good and productive trip.

AdoptAuthor said...

Thanks MaryAnne and to all who emailed me their good wishes.

Third Mom said...

Congratulations, Mirah, this is terrific!!

Lorraine Dusky said...

Ditto! You deserve this. When you return, it will be interesting to hear what your experiences are, and what you learned.

Diana said...

Thanks for sharing the news! I wish you well.

Bobbi said...

Congratulations, Mirah, and thanks to you and this human rights organization for doing something about the deplorable situation in Guatemala. I will be anxious to read your blog when you return. Best wishes for a successful trip. Bobbi

Anonymous said...

Mirah, I look forward to seeing you again... this time in Guatemala! I'll be there to discuss the DNA "issues"....

Jennifer Hemsley

AdoptAuthor said...

Totally cool. But now it's being divided into two groups. Are you staying on the 8/1-9 trip?

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