GUATEMALA CITY – A group of 34 girls gathered around the campfire. There were s'mores and laughter and constant chatter, broken up by outbursts of song. The scene is easily imagined by many around the world, especially boys and girls who quickly call to mind their own summer camp experience.
GUATEMALA CITY – In March 2013, the Guatemalan government launched a critical nationwide policy to better protect child victims of crimes, drafted with the help of IJM Guatemala and UNICEF.
This "General Instruction" policy substantially improves how public prosecutors handle crimes against children – including cases of sexual assault – from the initial report of abuse through the entire legal process.
EL ALTO, BOLIVIA – When 5-year-old Rocío* scanned the crowd gathered for her kindergarten graduation, she saw several members of the audience who had come especially to celebrate her: Her mother; Roxana, an IJM Bolivia social worker; and Jeshika, an assistant with the aftercare team.
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA – Belen's* mother sat quietly on the wooden bench. She stood out against the drab courtroom in her brightly colored shawl and heavy skirt – traditional clothing for an indigenous woman in Bolivia. She had been waiting for this moment for three years, since that day when she received a call urging her to come quickly to her daughter's school.
Three years ago, 13-year-old Belen was assaulted by her physical education teacher. He had instructed Belen to go into a small room used for measuring students' height and weight, then covered her eyes and sexually abused her.