“The war on drugs and increased militarization in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala is becoming a war on women,” said Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Jody Williams, during a high level women’s fact-finding mission in January co-coordinated by JASS and the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Building on JASS Mesoamerica’s work with diverse women human rights defenders, the trip drew attention to the surge of violence against women and the brave strategies they are employing to demand rights and justice. The delegation from Canada and the US spent 10 days hearing testimonies from over 200 women defender’s in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, who gave direct accounts of murder, rape, detentions and forced disappearances.
For Jody Williams and JASS Executive Director, Lisa Veneklasen, the trip drew upon their history of working together for peace and justice in the region in the 1980s. Given this history, the overt remilitarization and questionable role of the US were alarmingly déjà vu. Delegation members also met with Presidents Lobo of Honduras and Perez Molina of Guatemala, to address the failure of government and judicial agencies to protect women or hold perpetrators accountable. “The dysfunctional and corrupt justice systems in all three countries are literally creating a breeding ground for sexual violence and other gender-based violence,” said VeneKlasen. A final report on the delegation, which will include recommendations aimed at the governments of the US, Canada, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, will be issued in June. In the meantime, JASS and its regional partners continue to build and mobilize broad alliances of women human rights defenders to advance justice agendas while ensuring their safety.