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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 02:50 GMT 03:50 UK
Report highlights Guatemala abuse
By Iain Bruce
BBC Central America correspondent

Women in Guatemala
The report highlights a climate of impunity
The number of women murdered and sexually abused in Guatemala has risen sharply, says a report from the human rights group, Amnesty International.

Between 2001 and September 2004, nearly 1,200 women and girls were brutally killed in the central American country, according to official figures.

Many had been raped. The report says that fewer than one in 10 of these murders have been investigated.

Amnesty calls on the authorities to ensure that justice is delivered.

There are harrowing accounts in this report, like the case of 15-year-old Maria Isobel Franco.

When her body was found she had been raped, bound in barbed wire, stabbed and strangled.

The corpse was covered in small holes, her nails were bent back.

Amnesty International says the precise number of women murdered in Guatemala is uncertain and in dispute, but it has been rising.

In 2004 there were 527 recorded killings.

The causes are also in dispute. Guatemalan authorities often blame the youth gangs called maras, that have been spreading throughout Central America and Mexico.

But this report suggests several other reasons too: acute levels of sexual violence in the home, the activities of clandestine groups linked to organised crime and the legacy of Guatemala's long civil conflict.

Then, in the words of the report, rape and sexual violence were an integral part of the counter insurgency strategy.

Above all, Amnesty International points to a general climate of impunity.

It says the lack of investigations and convictions for such killings sends the message that violence against women in Guatemala is acceptable.

Guatemala's epidemic of killing
09 Jun 05 |  Americas
Guatemala murder jail terms cut
23 Mar 05 |  Americas
Murderers prey on Guatemalan women
06 Dec 03 |  Americas
Guatemala women 'abused'
12 Feb 02 |  Americas
Country profile: Guatemala
01 Jun 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guatemala
12 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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