ASOGEN: The Association of Women Generating Change

ASOGEN, The Association of Women Generating Change, legally represents 400 criminal cases, annually, in crimes of violence against women in Guatemala. ASOGEN is an organization that advocates for the defense of women’s rights in the department of Chimaltenango. They work to end forced motherhood for adolescents; seek justice in femicide courts, and empower and shelter women on the road to healing.

What motivates me? That I am a woman, a mother, and I have a daughter. We live in a society that violates us every day. We have rights. We are unique and valuable. I want to be a ray of light in the dark,” said Paola Garcia Reyes, ASOGEN’s women’s shelter psychologist and service coordinator, to Latina Republic.

It is disheartening that in Guatemala, women are cast as instigators in cases of sexual violence and femicide. Did she provoke it? Did she ask for it? Sexual crimes are stigmatized crimes in Guatemala, and the women are suspect. ASOGEN works along side women representing them in a number of cases, including, economic violence, which is the  retaliatory withholding of economic support. In many cases, a marital separation triggers economic violence. In these cases, we accompany the mother through the legal process to get child support.

We also work with women who are abandoned by partners when the woman gets pregnant. Once the child is born, the man denies the child as theirs and refuses to give the child their last name, which would legally bind him to provide alimony.

ASOGEN is a safe space where women receive individualized, psychological support and comprehensive care. Each woman is attended by a multidisciplinary group of professionals including attorneys, procurators, psychologists, social workers, and doctors.

We have developed a unique model to confront the serious problem of violence against women in Guatemala.

Since the cases are often, legal, our clients are referred to us through the courts, the public prosecutor’s office, and courts of femicides, which deal specifically with cases of women’s violent deaths.

Our services are free.

There is no cost. Our clients come to us for psychological treatment, emotional support, safety, and legal support. We accompany women to hearings in childhood and adolescent courts, family court and femicide courts.

We walk alongside the women until the case is finalized and there is a conviction for the offender.

We work with a group of teenage mothers who became pregnant as a result of sexual violence. They are now, young mothers. We support them here so that they can continue with their lives because we know that their life project, what they had planned to do before being forced into motherhood, has been truncated, has changed. 

We have accompanied daughters through the criminal process, but the cases do not lead to an immediate sentence. It can take several trials to pursue and win a sentence.

For the majority of survivors that we support, the aggressors are family members. Sometimes, survivors are abused by their own parent.

Our organization has a temporary shelter where the women who are in danger can receive treatment, recover, and strategize to restart their lives. These women don’t have family resources or a place to go.

A problem we are facing is lack of resources. We are currently only able to house women for a short time.

The cost of maintaining the shelter is very high and we are understaffed. We are currently able to operate the shelter thanks to our sponsors, but we are experiencing a rise in demand for our services and not enough funding.

Unfortunately, we do not count with support from our own government.

Sometimes women who suffer economic violence, meet with us for help and start the legal process only to drop it and return to the aggressor for fear of hunger and homelessness. In these cases, we support the women through empowerment training. We give them resources and strategies. We don’t want them to think that without the aggressor they have no options to survive and move on.

Proposed Strategies
To provide comprehensive care for women survivors of violence, girls, boys and adolescent women survivors of sexual violence, in the department of Chimaltenango.

Specific Objectives:
Strengthening of psycho-social support programs
Strengthening Access to Justice System and Legal Providers
Provide protection to women survivors of violence, through our temporary shelter

Access to Justice
Legal advice and Legal support in Courts; provision of clear understanding of the laws, the legal system and legal rights that favor women who are victims of violence. We accompany women through the legal process so that their rights are protected and so that no act of violence against women goes unpunished. We want to put an end to impunity in Guatemala.

Participation in the process of protection of the girl or adolescent in crimes of sexual violence.

Preparation and training for the judicial process and in demand of the courts to exercise due diligence in punishing abusers.

Preparation for Strategic Litigation from the moment that the criminal act is known.

We represent 400 annual criminal cases in crimes of violence against women and sexual violence.

Emotional Healing
Psychological Services. We strategize means of protection for women who are survivors of violence and girls and teens, victims of sexual violence.

Rebuild self-esteem in children and teens to be able to navigate stressful situations and overcome emotional instability caused by the violence they have experienced in their lives.

Medical Services
Provide medical attention for all health-related needs of girls, teens and women who are domestic and sexual violence survivors. We provide medical attention with warmth and within consideration of the trauma they have survived. We also provide medical services within their cultural norms, respecting socio-cultural beliefs and basing our services on the Rights to Health platform legally recognized in Guatemala and within international standards of protections of women survivors of violence.

Social Services Support
Provide social support, home visits, investigation and social surveys to support criminal proceedings through the legal branch of the organization.

Shelter for women survivors who are unable to return home
We offer holistic assistance to women survivors of violence providing shelter for them and for their children in the department of Chimaltenango. The women who come to our shelter have escaped violence and had to abandon their homes as a safety precaution to prevent aggression and threats that can lead to death.