Difficulties of being a mother in Guatemala

As Mother’s Day is celebrated tomorrow, May 10, in many countries, I think it is necessary to talk about the meaning of being one in Guatemala. In a small social group, middle and high, most mothers are found with the characteristic of being wives at the same time and living off the male contributions to the home or the sum of these with theirs as a product of their worked. They have acceptable levels of study, sometimes reaching university classrooms and this makes them members of an educational elite, but also with the possibility of having their own car, drinking water, etc. They certainly make up that privileged group, although when it comes to male mistreatment, a product of machismo and domestic violence, unfortunately they also suffer and endure it.

The majority reality is very different. They have to be mom-dad, work —which includes the humiliating “washing someone else’s”—, take care of and be teachers of their children, suffer the troglodyte manifestations of machismo: family rejection, aggression from the man with whom they live, abandonment of a irresponsible father, almost always with other “irrigated children”. The large number of their motherhoods is the result of ignorance of the functioning of their organism, of the fear of being attacked if they do not accept sexual relations, which in practice have turned into rape. Those who have a job are too often forced to allow abuse from bosses and colleagues. They must accept being objects, used to achieve job promotions, university promotions and so on.

Girl-mothers are another group, growing, hidden and socially denied. According to official data, last year nine cases were registered in girls aged 10, four aged 11, seven aged 12, 57 aged 13 and 396 aged 14. (Report by Geidi Muñoz Palala in the newspaper). Rape is the second worst crime against women, second only to murder, and both are examples of unspeakable violence. The consequences are impossible to forget and the effect of an unwanted motherhood or understanding of its causes influences the way in which these girls —suddenly turned into women, without their consent— will exercise their role as mothers. It will be deficient and above all they develop rejection of these children, a fact strengthened when they have a different surname or that of the mother.

Unfortunately, this grotesque reality is also influenced by many indigenous and ladino traditions from distant municipalities, where, furthermore, adult men and children simply do not even think about the rights of their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, granddaughters, nieces. The cultural element can be almost unbreakable fence, and in recent decades the non-Catholic religious point of view has been added to the Catholic one. Obviously there are honorable exceptions, but they are also a minority, and it is an error and blindness to consider mistreatment of women as a scourge of only one socio-economic-ethnic sector. It cuts across all of society horizontally and that is why the fight to eliminate it or at least change it is a moral imperative derived from ethics.

Of course, not all women are the same. Some, in a very small percentage, are as bad as the worst of men, as seen in politics, where in many cases they are examples of all the scourges, moral, legal and ethical vices, since they are human beings. It is urgent to eliminate and punish machismo, one of the first necessary steps to achieve a better reality for Guatemalan women and allow those who wish to exercise their right to motherhood. It is because it allows them to do what is conducive to the ends of life. Out of conviction and the hardship of being a mother in Guatemala, I greet you with admiration, beyond your circumstances and life stories. It is a moral obligation to greet women-mothers of all ages.

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Difficulties of being a mother in Guatemala