Episode 56 – Believing in Guatemalan Women with Brisna Caxaj and Marlies Stappers

Janet speaks with Marlies Stappers (left) and Brisna Caxaj (bottom right)

In Guatemala, the High Risk Court ruled in January this year that 5 former paramilitaries were guilty of rape, domestic slavery and sexual abuse against indigenous women from the Mayan Achi during the civil war. We explore with Marlies Stappers and Brisna Caxaj from Impunity Watch how the women pushed for justice for eleven years, despite deep seated racism and misogyny. Here’s some background.

We also mention the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and his chief of military intelligence officer, on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide. More background here at the great IJ Monitor archive. And the Sepur Zarco 2016 trial which paved the way for this result, in recognising wartime sexual violence and sexual and domestic slavery as crimes against humanity. Brisna wrote this for Justiceinfo.net at the time.

Our guests had some serious recommendations: Margaret Atwood’s classic The Handmaid’s Tale from Brisna and Marlies is on a sociology kick, including Zygmunt Bauman.


This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.