Women of Atenco to speak on survivor participation in research and treatment

"When I got out of jail, I stayed in my house for a year," says Claudia. "I cried, and I suffered so much. I had had plans for the future with my partner, but when I got out of jail, he left me. I felt like the whole world had turned its back on me because I was a rape victim. During that time, I began to drink a lot, and I started to go to a lot of bars. I did many things I didn't normally do. And then I realized that the government had tied me up for a moment. They laid the first stone of my destruction. But even with all of this, I said to myself, ‘I am still Claudia! I am still Claudia! I was raped, but this does not take away my dignity."

These are the words of Claudia. She is one of the 45 women arrested by police in Mexico one morning in May 2006 at a market square where they sold flowers.  Dozens were seriously injured, two people were killed and many of those arrested sexually assaulted.

Two of these women, Norma Jimenez and Italia Mendez will be keynote speakers at the IRCT's tenth International Scientific Symposium this December in Mexico City.  

These women have never received justice for what they experienced and continue to fight the impunity of the perpetrators of their torture. They are known around the world because of their fight for justice. Most recently the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in relation to their case. The Commission noticed the "existence of severe acts of physical and psychological violence, including diverse forms of sexual violence against the eleven women and rape in the case of seven women".

This development is a milestone in the struggle of the Women of Atenco, as not a single person has been convicted of any crime related to the assaults. Italia from the Women of Atenco says, "We are those who did not surrender to the misogyny of the state, and rejected the place that perpetrators assigned to us. They tried to take our identity, but we responded by shouting our name out loudly and reclaiming our right to be.

"This effort stems from the summer of 2008 with the firm objective to fight and reverse the effects of sexual torture on both ourselves and the environments in which we live; to identify the objectives of political repression and to build collective counteractive strategies. Breaking paradigms, taboos and raising awareness about the stigmatisation of survivors."

The Women of Atenco will be joined by a number of high profile speakers at the Symposium, including Professor Derrick Silove and Professor Carlos Martin Beristain and over 300 participants from over 70 countries. The Women of Atenco were also recently featured in a photo essay in the New York Times.

Places are still available at the event, to register today click here.