She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Do not dismay. For the life of the women, not even one step backwards will be taken”.
A woman of contrasts. Brave in confronting struggles. Sympathetic. Wise. Serene, as she meditates on what to do. Of solid principles and strong roots. An Ambassador of Conscience. Gentle like the breeze. Persistent. Disapproving of exaggeration. A life full of obstacles in the search for justice. 61 years of hard work against the current tide. Hilda Marina Morales Trujillo, Guatemalan, dreams of a world with equal opportunities for women and men.
She says also: “I saw that women did not have much support to gain access to justice. There were no women’s shelters, which are indispensable, otherwise they have to go back home, where they might suffer even more violence. People used to say that the legislation was advanced, but, in fact, it discriminated women”.
Hilda Marina Morales Trujillo – Guatemala
She is a University professor in Family Law and Human Rights. She drew up the academic basis for the Diploma in Gender Studies and the Post graduate Certificate in Women’s Rights for the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, where she holds the post of head professor of that subject. She also teaches at the University of Rafael Landívar.
Hilda Marina Morales Trujillo was born in a poor home in the Petén province of Guatemala, on the border with Mexico. Her mother, housewife, dressmaker, owner of a bazar; her father: agriculturist. Hilda has become independent thanks to her mother’s example and her father’s approval.
She was initially a primary school teacher. During her time at university studying law, she became aware of the problem of mistreated women. “Nowadays, you hear about it, but in those days you did not hear so much. Then, women who were victims of violence and slanders had no alternatives”.
When talking, she conjugates the verbs in the past and present form; her memories of that time are very vivid. Maybe that is because the situation has not changed significantly since then.
She is a graduate in Law and Social Sciences and did postgraduate studies in Trade and Labor Law.
She was Vice Minister of Employment and also an adviser to that Ministry. She was a special Reporter on Violence Against Women for the United Nations. She was editor of the project of the Law against Family Violence, as well as the National Coordination to Prevent Violence against Women, amongst other projects.
Hilda also participates in the “Red de la No Violencia” (named on rightsaction.org) – The Network for No Violence). She is a human rights activist who tries to make a stand before the Department of the Interior, the Department of Public Prosecution and Judicial Organs. She often offers free defense to female victims of violence. She is known for her fight against impunity. She herself has been threatened and has been a victim of violence.
She has engraved into her memory the closing of democratic spots. She has personal experience with repression. Shadows of sadness appear in her eyes when she remembers her brother’s murder, in 1974. “He was 22 years old, a university student who joined the Board of the School of Economics of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala. He participated in a hunger strike organized by the Trade Union of the Institute of Social Security. He was a student who believed in democracy and who was aware of the struggles taking place in society. I was informed of his death by a phone call from the funeral home. I had to tell my family”.
After the earthquake in 1976 – 250′000 girls and boys were left orphans. This amount kept increasing during the 36 years of internal armed conflict. (In December 1996, the two belligerent parties, the government, and the guerrillas represented by the National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit signed a Peace Agreement).
Since the year 1974, the procedures for adoption were liberalized, so that adoptions could be obtained through non-judicial channels such as notaries, and without State control.
Hilda worked to defend the children. She drafted the law drawing up the rules and regulations that would govern the procedures for adoption. She proposed that the primary object should be to search for a family for a boy or a girl, and not the reverse, to find a child for a family. As a consequence of her intention, she received death threats and was considered an “enemy of the notaries”. To this date, a law for the regulation of adoptions does not exist in Guatemala.
At the end of the eighties, the violence got worse and many places that fostered the expression of social thought and social action were closed. The University of San Carlos de Guatemala was no exception. Thousands of professors and students were murdered. The atrocities were devastating. Guatemala was no longer the ‘country of the eternal spring’, but a runaway river of blood.
Hilda remembers her university friends murdered by the security forces. She recalls a friend from her adolescence who was tortured and hanged with the strap of her bag. “It is so sad to see how the hopes of a great woman were cut short. She could have done so much for her country”.
In 1986, she introduced the theme of women’s rights as a part of the study plan in the Law School of the University of San Carlos. It is due to Hilda that degree certificates for female professionals are written in the feminine. She is also responsible for having obtained a longer period of maternity leave for women, both before and after the birth of their child. She is a woman of lucidity and reflection, bringing together action and thought. She evaluates the theoretical and practical aspects of human rights, searching for a way to bring them together. She directs her fight towards having sexual harassment and violence within the family regarded as crimes due to the law. She also works to expedite the investigation of murders of women.
She has received much national and international recognition. She blushes and smiles when she cannot remember the amount or the dates. She mentions one achievement: being named “Ambassador of Conscience” by Amnesty International.
“In the struggle for the access of women to justice, in all the discussions for the changes in the law and in the denunciations of the murder of women, the authorities adopt delaying tactics and waste our time. It is a big setback for us, because, instead of building changes, we must fight for life, for women’s integrity.
The contribution of the citizens should be well accepted. The state has the duty to legislate and to adapt the legislation to human rights. They do not do this. We women try but the state puts up obstacles that make us lose years in our fight. Women are murdered daily. We must be brave and continue to denounce violence because imparting justice is the state’s responsibility ”.
She is a woman who has taken on great challenges. She has made enormous achievements and championed huge causes. She also feels happy for the achievements of her daughter and son. She smiles and underlines the point, ‘daughter and son’. For her, It could not be otherwise.
“We built peace through dialogue, making the authorities more aware of their responsibilities and duties. Peace, to me, means that women should have the same opportunities as men, in practice and not only in the letter of the law. I dream of a world where we can walk safely on the streets, without the fear of being robbed, raped or murdered”. 61 years old and loyal to her principles, she has adopted the following citation as her own: “Do not dismay. For the life of the women, not even one step backwards will be taken.” (1000peacewomen).
Hilda Morales Trujillo, miembro de la ‘Oficina Nacional de Mujeres’ y ‘Red de la No Violencia contra la Mujer’, dedica su vida a defender los derechos de la mujer, lucha contra leyes que discriminan a la mujer y hace campaña por el cambio. (full long text).
A member of the ‘National Womens Office’ (ONAM) and the ‘Network against Violence against Women’, Hilda Morales Trujillo has spent her life tirelessly defending the rights of women by challenging discriminatory laws and campaigning for change. (full long text).