The Escuintla Care and Justice Centre


The Escuintla Care and Justice Centre

This wonderful care centre is a base for our teams to pursue justice and care for victims of child sexual abuse, while using their legal expertise to advocate for change and system reform.

Escuintla, a city of 100,000, is a highly transient community – just the kind of environment that facilitates high incidences of domestic and child sexual abuse and violence. Tragically, justice for child survivors of sexual crimes in Escuintla is virtually non-existent, and child victims of abuse (and their families) have little recourse for justice. Trauma-informed care and other needed services for victims are scarce, and as a result, children grow up carrying unbelievable pain and suffering while crimes against them go unpunished.

Care and justice for child victims of sexual assault

Our Escuintla Centre is a care hub for victims and their families, as we help them navigate the justice process whilst also providing trauma care and social support for all of them. Many are from difficult backgrounds, often from families experiencing high levels of poverty and living within ‘red zones’ areas more prone to violence where even the police have trouble entering. Our solicitor, social worker and psychologist work together to provide a remarkable service, in collaboration with the Guatemalan Child Protective Services, district attorneys and judges.

Systems reform 

The team also uses their unique access to the justice system to advocate for reform - especially around using child-friendly legal processes - as well as training key players in the legal system.

General advocacy and community awareness 

We also work in the local community to raise awareness for abuse prevention by hosting parenting classes, training police, prosecutors, judges, and professionals alike, e.g. using child-friendly facilities when giving evidence. 

The work we do here at Escuintla in Guatemala has been so successful that we have applied it to some of our other projects, including our work in Peru and Zambia. 

La Escuintla Care Centre: A story of hope

Anna’s story (name and photo changed to protect privacy)

Anna grew up in extreme poverty, unable to attend school because her family needed her help at home. Last year, she was walking through corn fields during her errands, when a man grabbed her, attacked her, and abused her. Her family was devastated and reported the assault to authorities and were referred to our Care Centre in Escuintla.

While helping her heal from the trauma, a resulting pregnancy, and the criminal process, we fought for her right to an education. Her father finally agreed to let her study, but she was rejected by the school, as “her type” (child-mothers) would be disruptive. To facilitate care for Anna’s special-needs baby and get her enrolled in school, our team arranged for them to live with an aunt, who lived near a welcoming school.

Anna has grown confident in school and recently made the 5th grade honour roll! She deeply loves her son and has become a responsible mother, all while working to heal from the trauma she endured. Our team continues working to give Anna and her son the best chance to succeed, and we look forward to reuniting the family when it is safe and wise to do so. Even in the midst of tragedy, God is the Restorer of hope!

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