Reports of violence against women and children decreased dramatically following a March lock-down in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Guatemala. Although the lock-down was necessary to contain the virus, victims were unable to leave their homes to report to authorities, and vulnerability to domestic violence increased with work and school closures.
IJM supported the Public Ministry (the Guatemalan prosecution service) to develop special guidelines for receiving and processing complaints of sexual violence and violence against women and children in response to the national state of emergency due to COVID-19. IJM also assisted local authorities in the implementation and dissemination of the guidelines.
One example of these guidelines is simplifying the process for filing a complaint. Victims can use a hotline that will result in the dispatch of a patrol unit, either immediately or within 72 hours, depending on the nature of the crime. Since then, the Public ministry has seen a 35 percent increase in complaints related to these crimes. IJM Guatemala will continue to support this critical initiative to improve coordination between prosecutors and police.