NUEVO!! CURSO EN LINEA sobre Prevencion de Violencia Sexual

El abuso sexual de menores es un problema complejo. La información que ofrecemos no sustituye el consejo de profesionales. No enseña un método garantizado para identificar a las personas que agreden sexualmente a los niños, niñas y adolescentes. No pretende ser terapéutica. El curso por sí solo no aborda todos los problemas concernientes al abuso. Su propósito es brindarle información y mostrarle pasos simples y proactivos para proteger a la niñez y adolescencia contra el abuso sexual.

Según datos revelados por el Inacif, 17 menores de edad son examinados y evaluados a diario por denuncias de agresión sexual. De enero a septiembre del año 2019, se registraron 1,816 nacimientos de niñas violadas de entre 10 y 14 años y 62,229 nacimientos de adolescentes de entre 15 y 19 años. Guatemala no ha desarrollado las estrategias y acciones necesarias pertinentes para la protección de la vulnerabilidad en materia de violencia sexual, íntimamente relacionado al bienestar integral de la niñez y adolescencia que conduzca a la reducción de las alarmantes estadísticas.

Para mas información del contenido del curso consultar el siguiente enlace:

Para poder inscribirse siga las instrucciones del siguiente enlace:

Instrucciones para inscribirse al curso en linea

MIA’s Collaboration with Congresswoman Sandra Morán

Here at MIA, we’ve been investigating and providing information to help legislators who want to modify and reform Guatemala’s National Education Legislation to educate about and prevent school bullying and sexual abuse in schools throughout Guatemala.

Back in 2011 and 2013, the Government of Guatemala, along with the Ministry of Education and several international donors, published a Guía para la Identificación y Prevención del Acoso Escolar (Bullying) / Guide to Identifying and Preventing School Bullying, as well as a Protocolo de Identificación, Atención y Referencia de Casos de Violencia dentro del Sistema Educativo Nacional / Protocol for the Identification, Attention to, and Reference for Cases of Violence within the National Education System. You can get these documents here: and here, respectively:

These documents are quite thorough and provide in-depth information on the topics. In fact, the Protocol breaks down different types of violence into separate categories, defining each one, explaining how to recognize them, and providing internal and external routes of reference for how to properly handle them. The types of violence identified are: mistreatment of minors and physical and psychological violence; sexual violence; violence on the basis of racism and discrimination; and bullying and sexual harassment.

It is remarkable and innovative that this information has been formally established – especially in Guatemala, where, although these types of violence are rampant, talking and learning about them are still taboo. In theory, these guides exist and should be incorporated in every public school. In practice, however, they are not properly implemented and used as dynamic tools by teachers, administrators, and school staff.

This is where MIA comes in. We are currently collaborating with Sandra Morán, a Congresswoman with Partido Convergencia. Together, we want to raise awareness and provide information that may be used to advance legislation that ensures that the Guide and Protocol are properly enforced in each school and classroom. It simply doesn’t do much good to have all the information officially printed and made available to the public, if the utilization of these tools is not enforced.

Sandra Morán is a really interesting and ground-breaking politician. She was elected in September 2015, amidst the corruption scandal that involved many in public office, and took office in early 2016. She is a staunch feminist in a machista country where being a feminist is radical and even dangerous. She is also openly gay, in a place where violence—and even murder—is perpetrated against homosexual and trans people. Sandra has said, “In Guatemala, to be a feminist is not welcomed, to be a lesbian, even less so. But the fact that I have always been transparent about who I am – a lesbian feminist – took away that weapon from those who use misogynist, sexist, and homophobic attacks as a political strategy.”

Sandra has long been an activist. She was born in 1960 (the year Guatemala’s internal armed conflict began) and from a young age, expressed her anti-military, anti-violence and repression sentiment, joining the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres, EGP), when she was a teenager. She then went into exile in the early 1980s, when the dictatorship and governmental brutality were most severe, and spent time in other Central American countries and Mexico, until the conflict was officially over with the signing of the Peace Accords. Upon her return, she became part of the Women’s Sector of the Assembly of Women for the Peace Accords, and later the coordinator of the Women’s Forum. Over the past 20 years, she has promoted and participated in different feminist and lesbian collectives, such as the women in exile collective Nuestra Voz (Our Voice); the lesbian collective Mujeres Somos (We Are Women); and the Colectivo de Mujeres Feministas de Izquierda (Feminist Leftist Women’s Collective).

Sandra has a strong agenda to make more visible LGBTQI rights and gender diversity and equality. As she has expressed, upon her election and with regarding her everyday fight: “Lesbian identity in Guatemala is taboo. It was necessary to show it, not only to break that taboo, but more so, it gave the opportunity for the LGBT community to have a representative. I knew that identity was going to be used against me. So I took from them the power they could have had to use it against me.”

She is pushing strongly to include school bullying against LGBTQI students in the Guide to Identifying and Preventing School Bullying, where the unique and persistent ways in which these students are harassed and bullied are specifically detailed. Using homosexual slurs such as hueco, maricón, marica, culero, among others, is extremely widespread against students of all ages, and it is time that this violence is addressed head-on.

At MIA, we are very excited to be working to provide information to Sandra Morán and her party to really make in-roads and lasting change within the Guatemalan education system on identifying and properly addressing violence and bullying in schools. Her energy and deep desire to create change are contagious, and she seems prepared and driven to confront and and all obstacles that would prevent advances towards gender equality and identity. Stay tuned to read more about our collaboration and achievements!

If you’d like to read more about Sandra Morán in the news, The Guardian has a great article: The Nobel Women’s Initiative conducted an interview with her: And Guatemala-based Plaza Pública has an in-depth article in Spanish:

A Patriarchal Tragedy: Reflections on Hogar ‘Seguro’ Virgen de la Asunción

By A Volunteer

“In theory, the Guatemalan government has a clear line of work that consists of maintaining and regulating any aspect of social relations (labor, political, economic, social, familiar, and institutional) within its territorial confines. In practice, it is evident that it only cares about the protection of the dominant and most powerful, and this conservative and misogynistic way of thinking and acting justifies that abortion is a crime but that the aberrant deaths of dozens of scorched girls is the ‘responsibility of everyone.’”[1]


Several men lighting candles. Sign: “CORRUPTION is what killed the girls!”

My previous blog post discussed March 8th: International Women’s Day, the march in Guatemala City with photos, and my three years with MIA. Tragically, March 8th 2017 also marked a devastating fire that took place in a shelter called  Hogar Seguro (which ironically translates to Safe Home) for children and adolescents. At the time of writing, 40 adolescents have died, several severe burn victims have been transferred to hospitals in the United States for skin graft surgeries, several others remain in critical conditions in Guatemala, and many survivors are being relocated to other shelters throughout Guatemala. All of the victims are female. It is shocking and heartbreaking and incomprehensible.  The government officially declared a State of Mourning from March 8th-10th, countless investigations are being done to get to the bottom of this tragedy, and civil society organizations and individuals alike are gathering in Parque Central to hold memorials for the victims and demand justice and accountability from the State. It seems as though everyone in Guatemala is mourning and desperately angered by the negligence and abuse that took place in the shelter.

A very brief version of the series of events leading up to the fire is the following. On the evening of March 7th, a group of adolescent girls in shelter started an uprising, and sought the help of some adolescent boys. One of the reasons determined for the uprising is that the adolescent girls could no longer take the abuses and sexual violence perpetrated by the teachers, administrators, masons and guards who worked at Hogar Seguro. These are some accounts:

‘“You can’t leave this room until you give me oral sex,’ ordered teacher Edgar Ronaldo Diéguez Ispache to 12 and 13-year-old students, as they tried to leave the classroom in which they received 5th and 6th grade classes. Not one was able to leave nor avoid the sexual abuse.”[2]

                   “The same teacher ordered girl and boy students to walk around the classroom naked in front of their classmates. One of the masons, José Roberto Arias Pérez, raped a mentally disabled girl. An alleged worker, described in one of the 28 legally filed complaints to the Secretary of Social Welfare as Joseph, forced some of the girls to have sex with him as he took them out of and away from the shelter.”[3]

In the middle of the uprising, the staff, aware of what was happening, opened the doors and screamed, “If that’s what you want, then get the fuck out of here!”[4] The adolescents ran out of the shelter and hid in the surrounding forest. A little while later, once they were captured around 10 PM, the adolescent boys were beaten by the police, while the adolescent girls were manhandled. Afterward, they were separated: the boys were locked in the auditorium and the girls were locked in a part of the school. Between roughly 12 AM and 8 AM on March 8th, between 52 and 60 girls and adolescents were forced to stay locked in this area, unable to leave even to use the toilet. Dozens of police and guards were stationed outside the auditorium and the section of the school. Around 8 AM, some of the girls set fire to a mattress, which quickly spread to the other mattresses across the room. Once the fire started, the girls screamed for help and banged on the doors but the police wouldn’t open the doors.[5]

Some of the adolescent boys provided the following testimony:

“Around 8:30, we started to smell a burning stench, and I don’t even know how we opened the door of the auditorium, in order to go and help the girls because they were burning. But the police didn’t allow us to help them and they began to hit us. No one helped the girls, and we weren’t allowed to help them either.”[6]


“This body is mine… It won’t be burned! It won’t be raped! It won’t be murdered!” #ItWasTheState

There are many intersectional elements to this tragedy. First of all, the conditions of the shelter were abysmal.  Reports had already been filed over three months ago by the Human Rights Ombudsman, when it requested cautionary measures with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. Moreover, UNICEF explained on repeated occasions to authorities and the media that an institution like Hogar Seguro was an unsafe environment for children and adolescents. It was designed to hold a total of 500 children but had approximately 800 at the time of the fire.[7]

Secondly, the children and adolescents in Hogar Seguro come from very precarious situation and poor backgrounds, whose families couldn’t care for them or who do not have parents or family members to care for them. Many suffered abuses at the hands of their guardians. In fact, according to the Secretary of Social Welfare, Hogar Seguro is an institution that “provides refuge and shelter to children and adolescents from 0 to 18 years of age, who are victims of physical, psychological, and sexual violence, who have disabilities, who are abandoned, who are homeless and living on the streets, who suffered from addiction problems, who are victims of human trafficking and sexual, commercial, labor, economic exploitation, or who are victims of illegal adoptions.”[8] Basically, children and adolescents were rescued from these horrible conditions and sent to Hogar Seguro to be protected and receive the care and attention they needed, under governmental mandate.


“Their voices have been silenced, but ours aren’t. Another act of femicide in the 21st century.”

Thirdly, the issue of gender: I already stated it above, but all of the victims of the fire were adolescent girls. Some had been raped by fathers, grandfathers, uncles. Some were pregnant as a result of this sexual violence. Once again, the girls were separated from the boys, locked in a room, and not permitted to leave even to go to the bathroom, even with dozens of police and guards at the door. They started the fire out of desperation. It was their last attempt at a desperate call for help, a call so that someone would take notice and help them and care for them. They were, after all, in a Safe Home and supposed to be receiving care. From the Guatemalan government. Tragically, that last call for help was never answered.

Finally, everyone is pointing fingers and no one wants to assume responsibility and accountability. Some authorities have been captured: Carlos Rodas, former Head of Secretary of Social Welfare; Sub-Secretary Anahí Keller; and Santos Torres, former director of Hogar Seguro. Up against accusations of State negligence, President Jimmy Morales and a number of members of Congress are trying to wipe their hands clean of any responsibility. The International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) and the FBI are getting involved in the investigations. At the time of this writing, more and more testimonies and facts are emerging, and only time will tell us who are those accountable.


“Make your indignation convert itself into action! #IAmNotIndifferent”

There are many questions, much anger, and overwhelming grief. I find myself unable to not read articles from various news sources as soon as they are published. But what now? This tragedy happened, and the pain cannot be reversed, but we must ask ourselves: what concrete steps can we take to not be indifferent or ignorant? How can we disseminate information, educate, and make sure that this isn’t repeated in the future?

MIA’s preventive education work champions for gender equality by dismantling and analyzing root causes of violence against women and girls, and violence also against men and boys (from a gender perspective). The Canada-based White Ribbon Campaign (in Guatemala, Hombres Contra Feminicidio, or Men Against Feminicide) is an international campaign to involve men and boys to vow to not perpetrate violence against women and girls, and to educate their peers to do the same. Imagine if the fathers, grandfathers, and uncles of the girls in Hogar Seguro had received the MIA’s Diplomado course? What about the teachers, staff, masons, and guards and police?

Time, energy, resources, and care & compassion must be invested in Guatemalan girls, boys, and adolescents, now more than ever.


Crosses with flowers, candles and fake blood, at the memorial in the Central Plaza

[1] Orellana, Paula. “Misoginia: hogar inseguro e irresponsabilidad estatal.” CMI-Centro de Medios Independientes. 9 marzo 2017.

[2] Woltke, Gabriel y Martín Rodríguez Pellecer. “Las razones del amotinamiento de las niñas del hogar.” Nómada. 9 marzo 2017.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Nómada. “Estos testimonios apuntan a un crimen de Estado.” Nómada. 13 marzo 2017.

[5] Nómada. “Estos testimonios apuntan a un crimen de Estado.” Nómada. 13 marzo 2017.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Muñoz, Geldi y Jessiva Gramajo. “Unicef y PDH denunciaron la situación del Hogar Seguro.” PrensaLibre. 9 Marzo 2017.

[8] Orellana, Paula. “Misoginia: hogar inseguro e irresponsabilidad estatal.” CMI-Centro de Medios Independientes. 9 marzo 2017.

Llamado a los nuevos funcionarios

Olga Villalta / Diario Centroamérica / 20 de septiembre de 2011

El miércoles 14 de septiembre, en un matutino local, cinco representantes de oficinas de Naciones Unidas en Guatemala (Unicef, Oacnudh, ONU-Mujeres,Onusida y Unfpa) publicaron una columna de opinión en la que evidencian cómo en la campaña electoral reciente los temas que tienen que ver con la existencia de abortos en condiciones de riesgo para las mujeres, el acceso a métodos anticonceptivos y la educación sexual no fueron abordados con seriedad y desde la perspectiva de los derechos humanos por las/os candidatos.

El aborto sigue siendo el secreto de miles de mujeres que recurren a él cuando se enfrentan a un embarazo no deseado por violación, por incesto, por falta de información o porque como cualquier ser humana, se equivocó. Se condena a las mujeres que lo hacen, pero no se atacan las causas. Para debatir este problema necesitamos que las/os tomadores de decisiones en el Estado se independicen de las posturas religiosas y asuman por fin que vivimos en un Estado laico.

El aborto es un problema social, de salud y de derechos humanos, y aunque en la campaña electoral muchas/os de ellos utilizaron el imaginario religioso para ganar votantes, al ejercer el poder, la ciudadanía debe exigir de ellas/os seriedad en los compromisos asumidos como país en el ejercicio de los derechos humanos, en este caso de las humanas.

Los avances en la legislación guatemalteca, promovidos en lo fundamental por las organizaciones de mujeres, deben respetarse y hacerse realidad. Debemos entender que es el Estado quien debe crear condiciones para la solución de la salud sexual y reproductiva de las mujeres, logrando así el derecho a una maternidad saludable y voluntaria.

El Estado debe realizar acciones hacia los hombres, no solo en el sentido de la responsabilidad en las funciones reproductivas (son ellos los que tienen hijos regados por todos lados), sino en promover una concepción del ejercicio de la sexualidad basada en los derechos humanos.

La criminalización del aborto obliga a las mujeres pobres a recurrir a personal no capacitado, poniendo en riesgo su salud y vida, además de enfrentarse a la estigmatización de la sociedad, viviendo en silencio su culpa.

Tomo la palabra de las/os funcionarios de Naciones Unidas, quienes nos llaman a “un debate que desafíe a respetar los derechos y libertades inherentes a toda persona”. Las y los funcionarios que asumirán sus cargos en enero (Legislativo y Ejecutivo) deben reconocer que existe una responsabilidad estatal respecto al pleno ejercicio de los derechos sexuales y reproductivos de las ciudadanas guatemaltecas.



Week 4

On Wednesday I facilitated two classes. One on Signs of Abusive Relationships and one Healthy Relationships. Lucia wasn’t able to be there because she was at an event, so it was really nice when two students in the first class helped me open the door to the classroom we use and helped me make copies and set up the projector. Another student, Negli, one of my mentors from my Saturday class, helped me run the projector so I could stay in the front of the class. It was really nice to know that the students are invested in the course. In the first class as we were going over signs of an abusive relationship, the students and I thought of safety plans for survivors, identified “red flags” and types of abuse, and discussed the cycle of abuse. The students also did a group exercise where they determined where different situations which may occur in a relationship belonged on a continuum between “acceptable” and “not acceptable.” The idea behind this was to understand that we all have different ideas of what is acceptable for us personally. One student, as we discussed the safety plan for leaving an abusive relationship shared her personal story of leaving an abusive relationship, such as letting her family know, packing her and her children’s things, getting a new cell phone, saving money, and having a place to go. We thanked the student for sharing her story and we were able to use her example to glean ideas for what we would need to bring in case we leave an abuser. This was touching because it showed that the student trusted the class enough to share and that they were connecting their experiences with the subject material.


In the second class we discussed Healthy Relationships. In this class the students had to determine if example situations were healthy or unhealthy and why. My favorite part of this exercise is when the students determined that some were more of a gray area, which was not part of the exercise but showed that they were thinking critically. The students shared about their own relationships or their ideas of what they want in a relationship and we determined what ideal communication would look like in a healthy relationship.

The next day I went out on the town to eat breakfast by myself before going to the University. I looked a little fancy I guess since it was Yohanna’s birthday and we were going out right after the last class. So when I stopped at a little cafe, Cafe El Echape, and asked the proprietor what the Cafe’s address was, I think she thought I was a travel writer or something because she looked at me with hope in her eyes and began telling me the Cafe’s address, name, and her name. I really just wanted the address so I could let the taxi know where to get me, but then I suddenly felt like she was expecting me to give the Cafe a review or something. So here I am, telling you readers that I ate a typical breakfast, platanos, huevos estrellados, pan, y frijoles with horchata and it was excellent. That day Yohanna and I co-facilitated two courses on Signs of an Abusive Relationship. In the first class, since it was her birthday and the class was pretty small, I got cake for everyone. Lucia had brought happy birthday glasses and a candle, and some of the students bought soda for the class. Another special surprise was that Daniel Velasquez, veteran member of MIA, came by the class and I finally got to meet him! He was amazing and told all the class about himself and his work, and he participated with us in celebrating Yohanna’s birthday and going over the day’s coursework. The second class was the same material and that class also went really well. Then Yohanna and I went to Trova Jazz, a Trova bar in Zone 4 for her birthday.



The next day, Friday, I went to visit my friend, an amazing poet named Manuel Tzoc, at his work, Ronald Esteticas in Zone 1. We hung out at his work for awhile and then took a walk to make copies since I needed them for Saturday and he needed to make copies of his new poetry book. We stopped and had some pupusas and then I went home since it was almost dark. Though I told him I couldn’t go out that night since I’d be prepping all night for Saturday, when Jenny called me and also invited me out, I realized how badly I wanted to get out. So I stapled up all the new copies, prepared the schedule for the next day, showered and went out with Jenny to see the same band in the same bar as before, at Cien Puertas. Thereabouts, as Cien Puertas and Gran Hotel are neighbors so we always end up at both, we saw both Manu and Abner, which was nice.

On Saturday I got to see the Video Project class again. I am love with Saturdays. This day we discussed domestic violence, we filmed a scene for each video, we took photographs for our bios, and we did a brief editing workshop. After welcoming everyone back we did a brief icebreaker wherein we had to say what we called our gentials. Then, to remind the students that their videos are supposed to be revolutionary as in based on Latin American Revolutionary Film Theory, they got into their groups and discussed how their videos are revolutionary and then presented.


Afterwards we broke up into small groups of the students with their mentors and discussed 6 handouts based on domestic and sexual violence, how to be supportive, and crisis intervention. Later we presented more on Domestic Violence based on materials from the Long Beach WomenShelter and then the students did a test on DV created by a good friend of mine, Marea Perez.

After a short break the students broke up into their video groups and half of them filmed while the other half took photographs and vice versa.

To end, we did a short editing workshop and ended with something positive.

The mentors and I, mainly Emmi, filmed some of the events of the day and I made a short video of what we did.

That night there was a rock concert in the Park in front of the National Palace and I told both Jenny and my old friend Carlos Ibanez that I would meet up with them when I suddenly ran out of saldo (minutes on my phone)! I wasn’t able to call a taxi and finally, after a lot of time and thinking, I threw on a hoodie and walked the 6 or 7 blocks by myself, at night! I never in a million years thought I would do that, but I did it and it was completely fine. I won’t do it again of course, but I am proud of myself in a way for not letting my gender paralyze me completely. When I first got there I couldn’t find my friends and luckily after awhile met up with one of Manu’s friends Joel who I met the previous week and he let me stand with him so I wasn’t alone in the park. Finally I found everyone and we all rocked out and then went out dancing at El Gran Hotel.  Carlos, Giovanni, Jenny, walked alone.

The next day I met up with Joel again in his music studio and he agreed to make original music for the student’s videos if they need it. How super exciting!



Week 3

By Marina Wood

This weekend was crazy because we had the film project on Saturday and Sunday instead of just Saturday. Saturday was devoted to talking and learning about feminism, sex, sexuality, the body, body image, sexual pleasure, sexual boundaries, sexual health, sexual identity, and gender identity.

We began with an icebreaker wherein everyone in the class had to say one word about sex.

Then, because I promised them the first day that we would watch a movie clip and analyze it but the tiny computer I brought didn’t have a DVD slot, so we watched a short clip from Miss Congeniality and talked about it.

We then discussed the homework from last week which was selected portions from the article “The Male as a Risk Factor: Masculinity, Mental Health, and Reproductive Health” by Benno de Keijzer. This was exciting since some of the students were just bursting to talk about it and had clearly learned a lot.

Then, to transition to the next topic we did another icebreaker wherein everyone had to form a circle and mime an activity they like doing such as swim or dance.

The next topic was something I decided to create after the previous week’s comments. When we were teaching about Feminist Film Theory the class had a lot of misconceptions about feminism and were turned off by the word because they equated feminism with separatism. So we started with an exercise in which each student was handed either a myth or a fact about feminism and had to determine which it was and why. This was to show the diversity of opinions about what feminism is and to think through some of the uglier misconceptions. Afterward the class read a short essay I wrote defining feminism out loud and we spoke more about feminism and clarified vocabulary and history questions.

Then we did a private, silent activity called Yes, No, Maybe though we started with one out loud as an icebreaker. The idea is to read a detailed list of intimate and sexual acts and situations and determine if you would do them, not do them, or maybe do them. The one we read out loud was “My partner can touch me affectionately in public” and everyone had to answer. The class then worked on their personal Yes, No, Maybe lists in order to determine their personal sexual limits.

We then watched a video about bodily diversity and looked at photographs of different penises, breasts, and vulvas in order to understand that, as Planned Parenthood says, different is normal. Then we watched a video about how to safely and properly use a condom.

After that we broke up into small groups: 2 students to each mentor and spoke about a range of topics such as feminist sex education, menstruation, safe sex, sexual and gender identity and orientation, and sexual pleasure. We then reconvened into the larger group and shared what we spoke about.

The last activity was a short ally training in which I taught the students how to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

We then ended the day by sharing something positive either about the day or in general.

That night my friend Emmi stayed the night since she lives very far and had to come back the next morning. Though we were exhausted, we planned the next day’s activities and then I took her out to eat in a fancy Mexican restaurant. Emmi works very hard both at home and at work and is still poor so I treated her to dinner and then when she mentioned she had never been out in Zone 1 I took her to two of the best bars there, Cien Puertas and El Gran Hotel, where we ended up dancing all night. She was super happy to be out of her house since her family doesn’t let her go out, and I was super happy to show her a good time.

The next day, Sunday, we had a long day. Instead of meeting from 1pm to 6pm we met from 10am to 6pm and since the University wasn’t open we met at MIA’s founder and director’s apartment/office in Zone 1. Though the day was longer we had less activities that took longer to do. We began with an icebreaker by Emmi, one of the mentors. She had the class write down five things they like about themselves and five things they would like to change and then present. She explained that the reasoning behind this was to recognize how we typically concentrate more on the negative than the positive in ourselves and also to practice praising ourselves since it is something we are not accustomed to do.

Then everyone cut up magazine they brought to make collages on their new notebooks that MIA donated to them.

After that the students and mentors presented on the three Latin American revolutionary film manifestos that they had read the night before: Imperfect Cinema from Cuba, Third Cinema from Argentina, and Cinema Novo from Brazil. When one of the students, Carolina, presented on Imperfect Cinema I literally cried because at sixteen years old she understood the article so well and the concept was so beautiful. (Imperfect Cinema basically says that cinema does not need to be professional and expensive and anyone who wants to make films as a tool for social change can do it.) We then watched a short clip of The Hour of the Furnaces (Getino, Solanas 1970) as an example of Third Cinema.

After that we brainstormed about how many films we wanted to make and on what subjects and the students decided to make two films, one about family violence and one about competition between women. Once the groups were formed I brought out the cameras and they opened them and practiced using them. Then we all walked down to 6th street which is kind of like Universal City Walk or Downtown Disney and in the two groups we ate lunch, talked more about the videos, and took more video footage. Unfortunately it started raining heavily and we hid out for awhile in Quiznos but finally had to go back because a few of the students had to leave at 4, so we all ran home in the rain.

Then we watched some of the footage the students took and talked about it and closed with something positive.

HTML for youtube video of footage taken by Michelle, one of the students:

Since this weekend was so full, I will start my next blog with Monday.




MIA and HCF campaign reach Xela

Vía revista

Hombres Contra Feminicidio

Todas las semanas leemos noticias en los periódicos de Guatemala acerca de mujeres que son asesinadas, sus cuerpos son encontrados desnudos en botaderos, a oriallas de ríos y en las aceras, con marcas visibles de tortura y violación sexual. Menos de 2% de estos crimenes son investigados y llevados a los tribunales de justicia, lo que constantemente nos deja con la duda que quienes cometen estos crimenes.

Hay dos cosas que si sabemos: que los mayoría son perpetrados por hombres, y que estos tienen mucho odío contra las mujeres. La frecuencia con que estas mujeres son asesinadas con crueldad y violadas, ha llevado al uso del termino “feminicido” para identificar este fenómeno. También es cierto que los hombres también están siendo asesinados con una frecuencia de más de 10 veces mayor que las mujeres.

La gran mayoría de asesinatos de hombres se llevan a cabo al estilo de pandillas: una o dos balas en la cabeza o un cuchillo al corazón. Estos crimenes se le atribuyen al contrabando, en su mayoría extorsiones o trafico de drogas, mientras que los crimenes contra las mujeres parece que son motivados por el odio.

“Feminicidio” tiene dos partes. Una es el patrón de crimenes violentos contra las mujeres, asesinatos, violaciones sexuales y abuso. La otra parte es el rol del gobierno y sus instituciones; la falta de leyes o la falta se aplicación de las leyes que permite que la violencia continue. En Guatemala, hay leyes que prohibenel asesinato y violación. El Congreso de la República pasó la Ley Contra Feminicidio en el 2008, pero el sistema de justicia no ha sido efectivo en investigar y perseguir los crimenes. Además, la policía es constantemente criticada por la falta de sensibilidad a la hora de intervenir en estos crimenes.

Cuando a una mujer se le pregunta “¿qué hacía afuera tan tarde?” o “¿a caso no sabía que la forma en que se viste hace a los hombres pensar que está disponible sexualmente?” esto hace que la victima piense que es su propia culpa el que el crimen haya sido cometido.

El feminicidio es constantemente presentado como un “problema de las mujeres.” Ciertamente afecta profundamente a las mujeres pero para poder eliminar el problema, necesitamos entender y reparar sus raíces, que no incluyen el estar hasta tarde en la calle o vestirse provocador. La raíz del problema esta en las personas que cometen los crimenes: los hombres. La gran mayoría de articulos sobre derechos de la mujer son escritos por mujeres. Mi maravillosa esposa me introdujo al trabajo escrito por un hombre: La Paradoja del Macho, por Jackson Katz y que lleva como subtitulo la frase: “Por qué algunos hombres hieren a las mujeres y como todos los hombres pueden ayudar.” Katz hace la observación que los crimenes contra las mujeres no son solo un problema de ellas, sino que todos los hombres tienen que actuar para terminar de una vez por todas con ese ciclo de violencia contra las mujeres.

Existe en nuestra sociedad una cultura de desprecio contra las mujeres que crea un ambiente de odio que es tolerado y que hace que la violencia contra las mujeres sea visto como algo normal. El hombre promedio, cuando se le explica que tiene una responsabilidad de terminar con la violencia contra la mujer a través de sus propias acciones dice algo así como: “está bien, no voy a cometer actos de violencia sexual contra las mujeres.” Pero nuestras acciones individuales tienen que ir más allá de lo anterior descrito. Todos tenemos el deber de cambiar la cultura que ve la existencia de la mujer solamente para nuestro propio placer.

Cuando escuchamos a los hombres hablar sobre las mujere sn forma despectiva, tenemos que desafiar esas opiniones y questionar lo que están tratando de decir como al preguntar “¿cómo se sentirían si escucharas a alguien decir lo mismo acerca de tu novia, mamá o hermana?” En Canadá, en 1989, un hombre llega a un salón de clase y, con una pistola en mano, pone de pie a los hombres y mujeres en lados opuestos del salón y procede a dispararle a las mujeres. Este acto de odio contra las mujeres fue el inicio de un movimiento, uno de hombres que tienen el coraje para ponerse al frente y apoyar a las mujeres y sus derechos  y activamente oponerse al odio contra ellas.Este movimiento ahora está representado e 58 paises, y es llamado “Campaña de Listón Blanco.”

La organización M.I.A., Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas, ha traído esta campaña a Guatemala bajo el nombre de “Hombres Contra Feminicidio.” MIA esta presentando talleres educativos de Hombres Contra Feminicido en esculas de primaria, secundaria, la USAC y la Academia de la Policia Nacional Civil. Estos talleres tienen una duracion de una a dos horas por 10 semanas y brindan a los participantes, hombres y mujeres, de la oportunidad de examinar sus creencias y actitudes sobre sexualidad y roles de género. Por ejemplo, un ejercicio titulado “Los hombres deberían… Las mujeres deberían…” comienza por definir, de parte de los participanes, las expectativas en nuestra sociedad para los hombres y las mujeres.

Estas expectativas se escriben en la pizarra. Los participantes conversan sobre lo que sucede cuando las mujeres no cumplen con éstas, que tipo de etiqueta usamos para describir a las mujeres que hacen cosas que “no se esperan de una mujer.” La misma pregunta se hace respecto a los hombres: los juzgamos, les insultamos si no cumplen con las expectativas? Como tratamos a las personas que no cumplen con las normas? El curriculo que MIA utiliza fue desarrollado por la Campaña de Listón Blanco y traducido al español por MIA. Cuando las personas examinan con honestidad sus actitudes y creencias sobre la sexualidad y roles de género, cambios profundos ocurren en el participante.

Cuando hablamos sobre las actitudes y creencias que tenemos sobre los roles de las mujeres y hombres en nuestra sociedad, las profundas inequidades en las expectativas se revelan. Guatemala tiene una historia terrible de violencia de género e impunidad que viene desde la época de la colonia, de acuerdoo a Catherine Komisaruk in “Relatos de Violación, la Violación Calla: Violencia Sexual y Testimonios Judiciales en Guatemala Colonial.” En la ley colonial, la violación sexual no era un crimen, excepto cuando el acto sexual era forzado en “virgenes, monjas oo viudas que viven decentemente.” Con el tiempo la ley estableció por decreto real eliminar la distinción arriba mencionada de sexo forzado y bajo consentimiento.

Durante la colonia, si un hombre era juzgado por sexo forzado, el crimen era el tomar virginadad de la mujer (o en su mayoría, niñas). La violencia y el consentimiento de la mujer no eran importantes en la ley colonial, lo que nos dice que la impunidad que vemos hoy en día en Guatemala ya se había previsto durante la colonia. Algo más reciente, durante los 36 años de guerra civil, la violación sexual fué usada como una herramienta de castigo, para atemorizar y desmoralizar a la población. Durante este tiempo, muchos guatemaltecos fueron expuestos a of fueron victimas de, violaciones sexuales u otros actos violentos. Los efectos por estar expuesto a violencia extrema, ya sea como testigo, victima o perpetrador, son reconocidos causas de daño psicológico a largo plazo. Estudios sobre este tipo de daño psicológico, incluyendo “trastorno por estrés postraumático,” demuestra que tales efectos pueden ser pesadillas, noches de insomnio y analepsis.

Personas expuestas a eventos extremos pueden mostrar impulses violentos por muchos años tras el evento. Los Acuerdos de Paz de 1996 con los que se terminó la guerra civil prometen la construcción de una nación próspera donde las mujeres tienen igualdad de derechos y vos en nuestra sociedad. Estas promesas aun están muy lejos de que se cumplan. Las deficiencies en la ley y el sistema de justicia que aplica estas leyes son mencionadas anteriormente. Pero para poder crear igualdad de oportunidades y derechos para las mujeres se requiere mas que leyes y su aplicación. Esto requiere de la construcción de un movimiento para cambiarlas actitudes enraizadas de desigualdad de los sexos. Para ser más específico, los Acuerdos de Paz dicen: “El Gobierno toma en cuenta la situación económica y social de la mujer como parte de las estrategias de desarrollo, programas y planes y para entrenamiento de personal civil como parte de tratar este asunto.” (Acuerdo Socioeconómico, 1.B.13)

MIA ha comenzado un movimiento con los talleres que cambia el pensar y actuar de sus participantes para así alcanzar una justicia e igualdad social para las mujeres, tal y como se describe en los Acuerdos de Paz. Pero esto talleres solo pueden llegar a un limitado número de personas cuando son impartidos por una pequeña ONG como MIA. Hasta este momento, las intervensionas más exitosas con hombres y niños han sido por intervension de una ONG, limitando la duración y teniendo una cobertura de alrededor de mil personas. Lo que se necesita para poder alcanzar los objetivos de los Acuerdos de Paz es integrar estos talleres, campañas y otras actividades similares a las actividades sociales de largo alcance como las escuelas públicas y el mundo de los deportes. Esto es lo que se necesita verdaderamente para cambiar la desigualdad de género.

A pesar que muchos hombres creen en que las mujeres deben tener igualdad de derechos y voz en asuntos sociales,  el involucramiento por parte de ellos para promover los cambios aun no esta ahí. Nosotros, los hombres, tenemos herramientas para ayudar a regar la voz por medio de la escritura de editoriales como éste o escribiendo cartas a los editores de periódicos locales.  Como hombre que es parte de este movimiento que crece, hombres con poder como en los deportes, actores, politicos y músicos que respaldan esta causa podemos mover a las masas via conferencias de prensa y eventos especiales de concientización que cuenten con la cobertura de los medios. Estos hombres pueden usar su carisma y credibilidad para abogar en favor del trabajo que se necesita por parte de los hombres y niños para tener una sociedad con más igualdad de género.

En los EE.UU hubo un estigma muy grande contra el VIH/SIDA, hasta que la estrella de baloncesto, Magic Johnson, anunció publicamente que tenia la enfermedad. Desde ese entonces, el estigma contra la enfermedad ha disminuído considerablemente. A los hombres que apoyan el movimiento en pro de los derechos de las mujeres constantemente se les señala de ser homosexuales porque se “cree” que se es menos hombre si se apoya el movimiento de mujeres. Hay un estigma social contra los hombres que apoyan los derechos de las mujeres. Para que este estigma comienze a desaparecer, se requiere del apoyo público de unos cuantos hombres reconocidos a los cuales su masculinidad no se le cuestione.

La estructura del estigma contra  los hombres que apoyan los derechos de las mujeres comenzará a desaparecer rapidamente ya que no tendrá base en la realidad. Nosotros hemos estado trabajando para hacer los contactos necesarios e introducir este curriculo en el pensum de estudios del sistema educativo nacional, llevar los talleres a los centros que educan al población que llevará a cabo los ideales de los Acuerdos de Paz. Por el momento no hemos tenido suerte con los contactos. Nos encontramos en constante busqueda de acercamientos con personal de alto rango dentro del Gobierno y el Ministerio de Educación y presentarles nuestro trabajo y sus resultados exitosos.

Nosotros también trabajamos para conseguir fondos económicos para nuestra ONG. Existen muchas organizaciones que dan dinero a programas que directamente benefician a las mujeres. Una de las dificultades que encontramos es la de convencer a las personas que nuestro programa beneficia directamente a las mujeres. Estas ONGs y sus programas orientados a las mujeres no muestran interés porque el nuestro se enfoca en educar al hombre y al niño. Muchas fundaciones que apoyan a las ONGs solo lo hacen si los programas benefician a mujeres y niñas y su potencial de “liderazgo.” La Campaña Hombres Contra Feminicidio se alinea con esto: al encuadrar el feminicidio como un problema que también es del hombre y al atacar las causas desde su raíz con educación, al final de cuentas beneficia a las mujeres y niñas y su potencial como líderes. La IMPRESIÓN que puede dejar la lectura sobre nuestro programa es que es para beneficiar primeramente a los hombres y niños.

La REALIDAD  es que nos beneficia a todos. Este es un problema grande cuando visto desde el pensamiento feminista; muchas veces el lenguaje utilizado en las campañas parece ser orientado a las mujeres, sin reconocer que lo que hace a las mujeres fuertes también aplica para los hombres. De acuerdo a los Acuerdos de Paz, “la participación activa de las mujeres es escencial para el desarrollo económico y social de Guatemala, y el Estado tiene la obligación de promover la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación contra las mujeres.” (Acuerdo Socioeconómico, 1.B.11) Creemos que esa tarea no es solo del Estado, sino de todas y cada una de las personas.

Week Two

By Marina Wood

Paulina and Guiby doing the personal space exercise
Paulina and Guiby doing the personal space exercise

This week was super exciting because it included the first day of the Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala, one of the most exciting parts being that I got to meet the students and the mentors who would be helping me. Me and the mentors met two hours before class to go over the day’s schedule and get to know each other. Olga, Paulina, Negli and my friend Emmi are my four mentors, all with diverse interests and experiences and all either are working on their master’s degrees or have them. Luckily Olga speaks good English so when I stumble on certain words I have help. When class started we began with a simple icebreaker and an introduction to MIA and the mentors. Though almost all of the students have been through at least half of MIA’s Hombres Contra Feminicidio campaign and understand gender, I always like to start with a shared definition. Olga facilitated a lively conversation about what gender is and we provided a definition: “The culturally specific presentation of masculinity or femininity.”


Genderless Crush exercize in pairs
Genderless Crush exercize in pairs

Our first activity was something called “Genderless Crush,” an activity we used at the Queer Resource Center of the Claremont Colleges. The activity is done in partners and each student takes turns describing someone they have a crush on without using gendered language or adjectives. The reasoning behind the activity is to understand just how gendered our language is as well as understand the heterosexual privilege of being able to talk about one’s love interest in public without fear. Then we talked more in depth about gender and learned the difference between gender, sex, gender identity, gender roles, gender attribution and gender expression.

Afterward we did the string exercise, an activity meant to teach the class about the importance of believing and supporting survivors of sexual assault. After that we introduced the basics of Feminist Film Theory and Revolutionary Film Theory. The last activities were centered around the idea of consent. We did three separate activities in which we had to tell someone not to touch us, ask someone if we can touch them, and determine at which point our personal space was violated.

We ended with reflections, questions, comments and homework assignment. The very last thing we did was each person had to say one positive thing either in general or about the day.


String exercise
String exercise

After the super duper exciting Saturday and after a very long and sleepless week of preparation, I decided to take my Sunday to the lake and visit a friend. It took a 20 minute taxi ride, a 3 hour long bus ride, a 5 minute long Tuk Tuk ride and a 10 minute boat ride to get there. On the way home the next day I just took one bus and one taxi, but I realized that its not too much of a vacation considering how much time and energy it takes to get there and back. Either way, it was very nice to get away.

Then on Wednesday I facilitated two classes on sexual harassment which went really well and on Thursday I facilitated three classes on healthy dating, all at the University of San Carlos. Though Yohanna, the co-facilitator for Thursdays wasn’t present, she previously invited me to go see live Trova music with her in zone 4 so I decided that I would go. I took a yellow cab and met up with her and her friend Luis and though I felt left out since the entire audience knew the words to most every song, I had a great time since I love live music and Trova is a beautiful genre since it is based on leftist politics.

On Friday I prepared for Saturday all day and then at night had a night out on the town with my friend Jenny. We also saw live music, but it was rock, and it was kinda cheesy but I guess her friend Ana was dating the guitarist. Tomorrow is going to be a blast with the Film Project because we are talking about sex.


Lakeview from Cafe Atitlan
Lakeview from Cafe Atitlan

Movie Project – week 1

By Marina Wood


At Claro, the phone/internet company.  Going there is just like going to the DMV.  I was excited because my number was my area code in California.


Some graffiti I found fitting for the video project “Art is a way to express your feelings, to follow your heart”


My poor towel.


Marina Wood recently graduated from Claremont Graduate University in California with a Masters in Cultural Studies and Media Studies.  She holds a Bachelors in Women’s Studies from Long Beach State University and is a California State Certified Rape Crisis Counselor and trained prevention educator and facilitator.  Marina has been volunteering with MIA for four years and, in 2009, she co-facilitated the Hombres Contra Feminicidio (HCF) campaign in Guatemala for 10 weeks.  She decided to return to MIA and Guatemala to both help with HCF and to launch a pilot media justice project, “The Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala” which provides hands-on film making classes designed to introduce youth to the art and craft of film making.


Week One: August 14-19

By Marina Wood

Blog 1: Week One

Here I am again in Guatemala City! Two years ago I came to Guatemala thinking “what the heck have I gotten myself into…?” and today I am here again with much more confidence but a similar feeling of being overwhelmed. Why overwhelmed? Well, let me make one thing clear: it is virtually impossible to make things go the way you plan. What with the rain, the busses, the fair weather taxi drivers (meaning it is only safe to use a taxi driver you know personally, and they aren’t always available), the pre-paid phones that cause people not to want to use minutes, the lack of internet in many households, the danger, … I mean I could go on and on. But regardless of certain setbacks, upsets, and changes, I am incredibly happy with the way the week has gone.

First of all, I got here August 14 in the evening. This time around I am working side by side with Lucia Munoz, the founder and director of MIA, Mujeres Iniciando en las Americas, so we spent the evening catching up and going over out schedule for the week. I arrived by way of Nicaragua for a two week medical mission, so this time it took much less time to get accustomed to the different lifestyle and language. The next day few days I spent organizing paperwork, my room, getting groceries, putting minutes on my phone, buying an internet USB, getting hangers, and creating power point presentations for classes I would be facilitating on Wednesday and Thursday. I also managed to almost burn the apartment down when I plugged in a lamp I wasn’t sure worked and walked away, not realizing it was on and my favorite towel was drying on top of it. Needless to say, nothing burned except a piece of towely.

Just looked at my first blog to see where I left off and realized I didn’t send it! Here is blog #1 below:

Wednesday I facilitated a course at the University of San Carlos (USAC) on Aggressive, Passive and Assertive Communication in the morning with the support of Lucia and in the afternoon I co-facilitated the same course with a young student named Yohanna. The classes were receptive and I felt welcome immediately, which is good because I am basically coming in halfway through their 10 week session on David’s heels. The next day I co-facilitated two courses to two new classes at the USAC on sexual harassment. This was great since I was able to use some material from the White Ribbon Campaign manual and some from my old job at the Sexual Assault Crisis Agency. However, it was a difficult subject to broach since there really isn’t a culture of sexual harassment training in Guatemala like there is in the United States. Though the students said that sexual harassment is a daily reality, by the end of class we were able to recognize that just because it is common does not mean it is acceptable.

Thursday and Friday I spent preparing for Saturday, which would be our first day of a Film Project I created under the umbrella of MIA. I have been excited about this project for months and used Kickstarter ( to fundraise for cameras for the students to use and MIA’s amazing lifelong volunteer Daniel Velasquez got some computers donated for them to edit on. I have been collecting reading material and workshops for what feels like forever, but the tedious parts for me are translating and brainstorming. Luckily I found a bilingual volunteer named Abner to help me and we burned the midnight oil finalizing the day’s plan for Saturday.