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Ending more than 30 years of impunity in Sepur Zarco

Finally, there is justice. Finally, the silence has been broken. Finally, impunity has been defeated. 15 brave Q’eqchi women from Guatemala sent two military officers to the defense table, under charges of slavery, sexual violence, murder and forced disappearances during the internal armed conflict that devastated the country in the 1980s.

During the three weeks of the trial, the survivors narrated the horrors they endured for months (even years) on end at the Sepur Zarco military outpost, which served as a rest and recreation center for the troops. After soldiers killed their husbands, sons and other family members and made them disappear, these women were made into domestic and sexual slaves, and were forced to fulfill the soldiers’ wishes.

Last Friday, a court in Guatemala found Francisco Reyes Girón and Heriberto Valdez Asij guilty and sentenced them to a total of 360 years’ imprisonment. This case has become a reference for other trials of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as the use of violence against women as a weapon of war. The sentence is a historic one, because it is the first time that victims have success fully taken their attackers to a national court.

The World March of Women celebrates this judicial decision and the courage of these women, elderly and grandmothers, who fought for justice, to break the silence and set a legal precedent that will help other victims in their cases.

Sisters, thank you for your strength! You are a source of inspiration to women suffering from violence and stigmatization in conflict situations in every corner of the world. You will not be forgotten or silenced! We will be on the march until all women are free, and the law is enforced!

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