The Diario de Centroamerica newspaper recently featured an article about the growing phenomenon of women forced to arm themselves due to the instability in Guatemala. Reportedly, some 9,200 guns have been registered to women.
Digecam regulatory agency director Guillermo Mejia said that it is still a relatively uncommon occurence for women to register weapons, it is happening more frequently as women from all walks of life and socioeconomic sectors look to arm themselves for self-protection. Many of the women who have purchased and registered firearms are small business owners who have found themselves victims of crime in the past. Mejia says that while some women have taken advantage of professional training with to regards to how to fire their weapons, others have been shown how to use their new weapons by their husbands and sons.
But Rosario Escobedo, an activist with the Sector de Mujeres group, says that the upsurge in women purchasing firearms will do nothing to protect themselves, stressing that it is the duty of police officials and government authorities to ensure the safety of their citizens.
Unfortunately for many women in Guatemala, the protection of police is just not guaranteed. From 2003-2008 the murder rate of women in the country more than doubled and in 2009, 720 women were murdered. Just last month, 40 women were victims of fatal violent acts.
Officials blame most of the violence on the increase of gangs and drug trafficking. And in a country where only four percent of murders are solved, there seems to be good reasoning behind the uptick in the purchase of weapons for self-defense.