Posts Tagged ‘violence’

The Facts:


  • January 17, 2007: Eleven Mayan Q’eqchi’ women were gang-raped by mining company security personnel, police and military during a forced eviction of families in the Lote Ocho community. The evictions were being carried out by Toronto-based HudBay Minerals Inc. and HMI Nickel Inc., based on the Fenix mining project plans. Rosa Elbria Ich Choc, Margarita Caal Caal, and nine other women from the Lote Ocho community are suing HudBay Minerals Inc. and HMI Nickel Inc. for negligence and carelessness causing physical and psychological harm (Caal v. HudBay). Have a listen to the story as told by Rosa Elbria Ich Choc, as she stands on the remains of her home.

  • September 27, 2009: Adolfo Ich Chamán, President of the Community of La Uníon,  a respected Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader, a school teacher and father, was brutally beaten and shot in the head by private security forces employed by the Fenix mining project. Chaman was an outspoken critic of the harms caused by Canadian mining activities in the Lote Ocho community.

The Big Picture:

There has been an ongoing land conflict between local communities and international mining companies. During Guatemala’s civil war, 200,000 people were killed, 83% of which were Aboriginal Mayan people (clearly these were acts of genocide aimed at eliminating the Maya). Q’eqchi’ people, living in communities such as Lote Ocho, were driven off their land, and upon returning to what was once theirs, discovered the government had negotiated the sale of their land to mining corporations. In 2006, the International Labour Organization of the United Nations, ruled that Guatemala had indeed breached international law when they granted Fenix mining privileges without first consulting the local Mayan people.

The Implications:

Forced evictions. Destruction of property. Violence. Rape. Racism. Murder. Violations of human rights. This situation is highly reminiscent of colonization stories. And yet we remain blind to these facts. It doesn’t help that Toronto-based media does not prioritize reporting on these events. We like to think that colonization is a thing of the past, but it is still very present.

What Can We Do?:

1. Educate Ourselves
Check out the official site for more information on the lawsuits. Post links to your social media pages and spread the word. It is clear from this map, ‘Trouble at Canadian mining sites around the world’, that this is not an isoalted incident, and that international mining corporations need to hold their employees more accountable for their actions.

2. Join + Participate
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability welcomes participation of environmental and human rights NGOs, faith groups, labour unions, and research and solidarity groups.

3. Donate
Click here to donate as little as $5 through PayPal.

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For the final journal entry, I will be commenting on trans issues.

There were many important issues that our guest speaker addressed during her presentation to the class. First, she clarified the difference between trans and cis. Generally, the term ‘trans’ means something that changes or transitions, it refers to specifically gender-variance, and can be used as an identifier for transsexuals and for transgender individuals. The term ‘cis’ on the other hand, generally means something that stays put or does not change, and can be used in identification as cissexual or cisgender person. Being trans or cis has nothing to do with your sexual orientation, but only with your sex/gender presentation/experience.

Of great importance to me as a counsellor, the guest speaker went into some detail about the violence that transwomen may experience from their partners. Transwomen often experience internal struggles with negotiating body image and gender, and this is something that abusive partners may take advantage of. Abusive partners can seize/hide/throw out hormones, dilators. Abusive partners can make negative and oppressive comments about the woman’s body. These acts, while not physically violent or abusive, are violent in another way: they take away what is most important for the woman, which are the tools necessary to keep her female body (transwomen need to keep up their hormones and use their dilators, or testosterone levels will rise, menopause will hit, and the outcome of surgeries will be ruined).

The guest speaker also talked about trans issues at the social and political level. Cissexism and cisnormativity, which refer to the privileging of, and invisible normalcy and assumptions associated with being cisgender. Transphobia, is the irrational fear and/or hatred of trans or gender-variant people. We see cissexism and cisnormativity in employment discrimination, in public washrooms which force people to identify as ‘man’ or ‘woman’, in the lack of support and resources available for transpersons, in the effects of bullying, and in the hundreds of transpersons who are murdered every year. As a counsellor-in-training for all women who experience violence, I must be aware of the issues that affect transwomen, and this session proved to be extremely useful.

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