Despite the beauty of Guatemala, there is a hidden plague of sexual violence against children. In some neighborhoods, 1 in 4 adolescent girls is a victim of sexual violence.
Many of the children we serve are from "red zones."
Governments designate these areas as particularly dangerous because they are prone to natural disaster—but in this case, they are colored red because of extreme violence. When IJM began exploring opening an office in 2005, human rights experts said the system was too broken and would never protect the poor—that our mission would be impossible.
Nearly a decade later, a stronger law and a new Sex Crimes Unit exist, evidence of a country getting serious about tackling the crime.
We rescue children by stopping the violence. We receive case referrals from the department of social services, police, families, churches and other community members. We equip and collaborate with local partners to ensure that every child is protected and in a place of safety.
Bring Criminals to Justice
We bring criminals to justice. IJM works with law enforcement officials and other partners to track down and ensure suspects are arrested. This can take months or even years, but we are relentless. IJM works to ensure adequate evidence is collected to build a strong case, and we support survivors who choose to share the truth in court.
We restore survivors by providing consistent support. Through IJM-trained partners and volunteers we provide support to the child and the family so he or she can heal in a safe and stable environment. IJM networks with various partners to ensure each survivor has access to necessary services that include physical health, trauma-focused counseling, personal security, and education or economic self-sufficiency.
Strengthen Justice Systems
We strengthen justice systems by equipping prosecutors, judges and police respond to sex crimes against children and treat the victims with sensitivity. In a five-year review of court files, IJM discovered that only 3 out of every 10 cases received a full investigation. The current System Reform project began in 2014 and will train the Guatemalan National Police and the Sex Crimes Unit to effectively investigate cases so trials can actually occur.
“Today we have the opportunity to pass on a brighter future to the children of Guatemala: a future with better protection against sexual violence. The time is right to join forces and take action!”
Alongside our government partners, we are proving every day that change is possible for children in Guatemala. In 2012, we helped secure more than 1 out of every 3 convictions against pedophiles in the state where we work.
We are an active member of an influential coalition aimed at increasing the awareness of child sexual assault and influencing government actors to implement policies to address the problem.
Our Team in Guatemala
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Field Office Director: Brad Twedt
Focus: Sexual Violence