MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES – This week, a cycle of violence ended in Manila: After years of violent, hidden abuse, a man has been convicted of child abuse and rape, and sentenced to what will amount to a life term in prison. He started sexually assaulting his granddaughter Jemma* when she was barely a teenager – and had been abusing her mother and grandmother for years.
GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA – Belle* took a deep breath. The 13-year-old girl was sitting in an unfamiliar courtroom in Guatemala. The defense lawyer had just asked her a simple question, to point out a man. This was a culminating moment for Belle, who had been abused by the man in 2009.
She lifted her hand and pointed directly at the perpetrator, who had been an appliance delivery man in her small neighborhood. Belle spoke in a clear voice: "It was that man there." Then the young girl sank into the bench, overcome with a flood of emotions.
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Only seven years old, Haana* found that the most dangerous place for her was one where she should have been the safest – her own home. Her father, a violent and abusive man, began subjecting her to regular sexual assaults. Fearful and confused, Haana eventually ran away from her home to escape the abuse to live with relatives. When she was 15 years old, she returned to find that her father had not changed his abusive tendencies – instead he had redirected the psychological threats and sexual abuse to her younger sister, Ariana*.