Maudí Tzay (ECAP) will be on tour with NISGUA this Fall, talking about the importance of the Sepur Zarco case and the work of the Alliance to End Silence and Impunity.
Both the report released by the UN-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) and the REMHI report published by the Catholic Church point to the systematic violence women faced at the hands of the Guatemalan military during the armed conflict. Yet while other important legal cases for crimes against humanity have advanced in national and international courts, the crime of sexual violence and slavery had yet to be the primary focus of a legal case.
Recognizing the stigma faced by survivors of sexual assault, several feminist organizations came together in 2010 to hold a People’s Tribunal, opening space for women survivors to share their stories. The Alliance to End Silence and Impunity emerged as a multi-disciplinary approach to supporting the women survivors of Sepur Zarco, many of whom had given their testimonies for the first time before the People’s Tribunal. ECAP is a member of the Alliance, together with Women Transforming the World (MTM), who provides legal support, and the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG), who provides training in political advocacy and empowerment.
“The Alliance brings together different expertise and works towards the same objective – achieving justice in the cases of violence against women, and the broader struggle towards gender equity,” says Maudí. “This process didn’t begin when charges were filed, but instead, took place over several years. The fact that the women already had a deep awareness about what it means to struggle for justice in the country – that was in part due to the important accompaniment work that occurred prior to filing the charges.”
Maudí is a Kachiquel woman who was active in the student movement while studying psychology at the University of San Carlos. She did her university fieldwork in the department of San Marcos, where she provided psychological and social accompaniment to communities experiencing human rights violations as a result of the imposition of Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine. Later, she worked in gender-based violence prevention, providing support to women, youth, and young girls in shelters in San Marcos. She has worked with Ixil witnesses in the genocide case in Nebaj in 2013, and has provided support to the women raped by private security near the Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, previously owned by HudBay Minerals. In 2014, Maudí began providing mental health support to women witnesses in the Sepur Zarco case, the same year in which arrests were made. She accompanied the women throughout the month-long trial.
“During this time, we have been opening other doors for other processes