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Guatemala: Women defenders face violence, intimidation and criminalisation for their activism

Author: Al Jazeera, Published on: 4 March 2019

“Women land defenders face 'extreme criminalisation', added risks”, 2nd March 2019

…Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries worldwide for natural resource conflicts, with 26 land rights defenders murdered in 2018, more than double than the year before, according to Frontline Defenders…Of the 321 rights defenders killed worldwide that same year…75 percent were in Latin America, where relaxed regulations, corruption and weak protections for defenders often mean such murders go unpunished…Only 12 percent of the land rights defenders killed in 2018 were women, but female land defenders are exposed to additional violence and intimidation. Pressure to stop pursuing their work comes both from their critics and their own community…Campaigns to criminalise these women and delegitimise their work often attack them on the basis of gender. Sexual violence against female land rights defenders and their daughters is used as an intimidation technique. When these women return home, they often lack the support of their fathers, brothers and husbands for their work, and may even suffer physical violence at the hands of their male family members. Plus, women face the added burden of carrying out their activism on top of household and childcare responsibilities…Activists working in the region claim detaining human rights defenders on these grounds is a common criminalisation tactic…


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