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.