Two men have been found guilty for enslaving indigenous women in Sepur Zarco in a case symbolising a wider battle for Latin America women.


The word muxuk refers to a woman who has been “desecrated”, a woman whose “social and spiritual world was destroyed and broken in all of the areas of her life”. In the Q’eqchi’ language there are four ways to refer to sexual violence, yet muxuk is the term Guatemalan women of the Sepur Zarco community have chosen to use when talking about the war crimes perpetrated against them.

Neither Spanish nor English have the words to describe precisely the horrors these women experienced in 1982, during the Guatemalan armed conflict.

After decades of impunity, two former soldiers – base commander Esteelmer Reyes Girón and paramilitary Heriberto Valdez Asij – have been found guilty of crimes against humanity. On Friday, the high-risk court in Guatemala City sentenced them to a total of 360 years in prison for their crimes including the sexual enslavement of women.

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