JASS Mesoamerica

Violence against women activists continues to rise. Unfortunately, despite considerable effort, responses to this violence are coming up short. Given the urgency of the situation, JASS and allies are questioning the underlying assumptions guiding activist safety, and bringing a feminist and movement building perspective to rethinking the approach.
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Italia Mendez refuses to be known the rest of her life as “one of the Atenco victims”. So instead she has become an outspoken global crusader against sexual torture by the state. In May of 2006, Mexican police rounded up Italia and more than two hundred other protestors in a violent crackdown in the village of Atenco, Mexico State. They were taken into custody and driven more than 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) to a state prison. During the hellish ride, the police sexually tortured the 47 women. The torture continued even after arriving at the prison.
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I spoke to Berta Cáceres the day she was murdered. I never imagined that later this year I would be in a demonstration along with almost a thousand women in Honduras asking for justice for her murder. Sometimes, I still can hear her voice.
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“Protection of women defenders must be based on recognizing their existence, but also their contribution to creating better societies,” said a participant during a forum with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst who visited Central American countries to hear directly from defenders about the challenges and risks they face.
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The daughter of slain Honduran indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres called Friday for an immediate halt to the controversial dam project which the renowned human rights leader had mounted a decade long fight to stop.
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We are deeply saddened and outraged by the assassination of Honduran activist—our sister and friend—Berta Cáceres, Coordinator of COPINH. Read JASS' official statement.
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The growing trend of criminalizing activists has become the number one approach for silencing activists who speak out against the devastating impacts of extractive projects on their lives. In this risky context, strengthening indigenous women’s safety is vital.
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Long time Honduran feminist activist, Gladys Lanza's 18month prison sentence is a verdict aimed at sending a powerful message to all defenders of women’s rights in the country: “If you don’t want to be prosecuted, stay silent.”
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In honor of Berta Cáceres, we share an earlier piece that spotlights some aspects of her journey as an indigenous leader in last few years. Thank you Berta for crossing many lines of courage and justice.
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This 2 pager highlights the innovative work of the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative, launched in 2010 to develop a comprehensive and regionally-relevant response to increased violence against women human rights defenders in Mexico and Central America.
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