On February 1, in a courtroom in Guatemala City, an historic trial will begin. Presiding Judge Yassmin Barrios – the same judge who presided over the Rios Montt genocide trialin 2013 – and her two colleagues will hear evidence against two former military officials for sexual violence, sexual slavery and domestic slavery as crimes against humanity. According to the Prosecutor, for up to six years Qek’chi Mayan women of rural communities were forced to take turns every two or three days washing, providing tortillas, cooking, cleaning and being raped at the military outpost of the community of Sepur Zarco, located on the border between the townships of Panzós and El Estor.  Fifteen of the survivors, backed by a coalition of women’s groups, brought a complaint in 2011 against the commander of the base, retired colonel Esteelmer Reyes Girón, and Heriberto Valdéz Asij, the former military commissioner (the Army’s local representative in rural areas) in the region. In addition to the crimes against humanity charges, Reyes is charged with murdering Dominga Coc and her two young daughters on the base. Valdez will face additional charges of forced disappearance.

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