Survivors of rape and genocide, hidden in plain sight

By — February 11, 2012

These indigenous women asked me not to show their faces. But they want their stories told. They traveled far from the Guatemalan highlands at the end of January to tell me and other journalists and activists on a delegation from the Nobel Women's Initiative about their experiences in the country's 36-year genocide and since. Their bravery—just showing up, just speaking, even anonymously—was remarkable in a country where women can't talk about their own rape and the intense violence they have suffered at the hands of the military, or police, or private security forces, without losing their husbands, their children, and their homes. Their silence has endured since the end of the country’s internal conflict in 1996 for the most part, but they are here, even without a face to see, asking us to remember that they exist. Their stories are part of an unending narrative of pain and survival that they asked me to bring home to tell you. I will be publishing more about them soon.