APPEAL FOR THE JUSTICE PROGRAMME AT LA ALIANZA, GUATEMALA FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING

This appeal focuses on a dedicated appeal for Guatemala. It is a country that we just cannot ignore due to the harrowing situation that has a negative impact on the daily lives of children; and even worse for Guatemalan girls.   Did you know that despite the gains made under the Millennium Development Goals, 75% of the population still lives on $1 a day? And that in every country globally, without fail, girls are disproportionately affected by poverty, often the ones who are denied access to school, have to work early supplement family income, bear the brunt of domestic care duties, have less to eat and quite simply, are seen as a commodity. This awful situation makes them extremely vulnerable to trafficking & abuse

“Nearly 60% of the 50,000 victims of sex trafficking in Guatemala are children” according to a report by UNICEF and the U.N. Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which estimates the industry to be worth $1.6 billion a year.

Girls as young as 12 are lured from home, with the promise of a respectable job that will lift their family out of poverty – The reality? They are forced to work in brothels, having sex with up to 30 customers a day.

They are threatened with abuse and that their family will be harmed, perpetuating a cycle of fear and control. If they escape, they are beaten. Many girls are traumatised by their experiences, unable to trust adults, suffer long-term health implications, have little or no self-value and describe their lives as effectively being over. Imagine a 12 years old girl telling you that their life is no longer worth living. This cannot continue.

La Alianza Guatemala is a safe house for girls who have been rescued from trafficking. It works to restore the self-esteem, emotional and physical health of adolescent girls, young mothers and their babies who have experienced abuse and violence and support them to rebuild their lives, providing them with educational, vocational and recreational opportunities to develop their skills, play as children and realise there is much to look forward to as they begin to build a positive future.

La Alianza provides trafficking survivors with expert psychological care to begin the journey to recovery from violence, abuse and trauma endured, provide them with valuable life skills education to build resilience, develop strategies to cope against life’s adversities and register them so they are fully constituted as Guatemalan citizens so they can fully exercise their rights and access services they are entitled to.

In a word, empower them.

A key part of the work of La Alianza is their contribution to the strengthening the Guatemalan justice system and to eradicate impunity for crimes of violence against girls and adolescents. Their legal team work tirelessly to advocate for the human rights of trafficking survivors, ensuring their protection and seeking justice for trafficking offences, rape and sexual assault committed against the girls. Lawyers accompany girls to court cases and support them throughout, undertaking prior research into the crime itself and providing additional/supporting evidence.

To-date, 25 girls have been represented by La Alianza as we seek justice for the atrocities they have experienced, securing 24 convictions, where perpetrators have been sentenced- ranging from 8 to 31 years in prison. There are still 42 cases outstanding, at different stages of research and proceedings whose perpetrators are still unpunished, where girls are living in daily fear of being attacked again.

We urgently need to push criminal proceedings to seek justice, end impunity and provide closure for trafficking survivors.

To do this La Alianza urgently needs additional funds to continue their work.

Our appeal is for financial support to employ additional Psychologists/social workers/legal representatives (attorneys/lawyers) and an investigator so that the backlog of cases requiring investigation and support can be advanced and the girls can start to live their lives free from fear.