red-nacional-honduras-jassUnder the post-coup government the country continues to experience violations of human rights, gender-based violence and assassinations, particularly against members of the pro-democracy movement that formed in response to the coup. The successor administration has reversed gains in women’s reproductive and sexual rights, labor rights and rural land reforms. None of the crimes committed by the coup government have been investigated or prosecuted, including forced disappearances, rapes and murders. As international attention diminishes, there is a serious risk of consolidating the anti-democratic measures imposed during the coup and continuing attacks on opposition members and leaders, including the widespread use of gender-based violence to harm and intimidate women activists and leaders.

The problem is that the entire system is a system of corruption, a system of injustice, a system of complete impunity" - Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, January 2012

Members of the military have retaken national control, assuming social roles and positions that traditionally fall within civilian purview. This situation not only creates a climate of control and terror throughout the country, but also allows for the normalization of military presence and, in some places, outright occupation. The government justifies the military takeover under the aegis of combating crime, the war on drugs, and providing security. The lack of governance coupled with a crackdown on social movements and pro-democracy activists has eroded the security and human rights situation to the point thatHonduras, as of 2011, is ranked the most violent country in the world with a murder rate of 82.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The spike in femicides - the systematic murder of women with state complicity or responsibility - is particularly alarming. According to data compiled by the Center for Women’s Rights (CDM), the femicide rate jumped by 257.3% between 2002 and 2010. The figures continue to escalate in 2011, with more than one woman murdered per day.

After Mexico, Honduras is the country with the largest number of journalists assassinated in Latin America, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

In Honduras, freedom of expression does not exist..." - Frank LaRue Lewy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Women human right defenders in Honduras often face threats, defamation and manipulation from public officials and politicians. In addition, authorities, government and media controlled by a handful of business groups continue to discredit women human rights defenders by linking them falsely with terrorists groups, drug traffickers, and common criminals. This endangers women defenders’ lives and cuts them off from the communities they are defending. 

Supporting Activists

Since the coup in 2009, JASS Mesoamerica has collaborated with a number of women’s and human rights groups, such as Feminists in Resistance and the Center for Women’s Rights, who have taken active roles in organizing and mobilizing within the resistance movement. By linking our training processes to political organizing and action, JASS Mesoamerica builds its network and fosters new relationships with women defenders and women’s rights organizations – convening communications and ICT trainings with Feminists in Resistance and indigenous women, mobilizing emergency resources to support women’s organizations during the coup and supporting and facilitating conversations and engagement between women activists, and government officials and civil society actors in the United States. In addition, JASS Mesoamerica supports the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Honduras in its work to denounce violence against women leaders and defenders.  

Related Regional Articles

“Protection of women defenders must be based on recognizing their existence, but also their contribution to creating better societies,” said a participant during a forum with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst who visited Central American countries to hear directly from defenders about the challenges and risks they face.

From September 8-11, we joined nearly 2000 diverse participants from across the globe in Brazil. From the Black Feminist Forum, plenaries, sessions and hubs, we were incredibly inspired and energized by what we heard, learned and offered. Together with allies, we shared stories and tools for cross-movement power and change.

Join us and our allies in sharing stories and tools for cross-movement power and change including the launches of WeRise: Movement Building Reimagined – JASS' online resource kit and platform, ICTs for Feminist Movement Building Activist Toolkit, and DefendHer, a women human rights defenders digital campaign.

JASS Mesoamerica’s Daysi Flores gives a personal account of the impact of Berta Cáceres’ death on her life and activism: “I spoke to Berta Cáceres the day before she was murdered. We were talking about a workshop we were doing together on collective healing and power. The last thing she said to me was, “Take care, compita.”

JASS joins over 200 other organizations to "urge a response from the State Department that is not business as usual but a profound change of direction towards improving the abysmal situation of human rights in Honduras."