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Prof. Sanford's Work Featured in CNN Story

June 27, 2011

Professor Victoria Sanford (Anthropology), director of the Lehman College Center on Human Rights and Peace Studies, is featured in a story on cnn.com ("Rape in wartime: Listening to the victims") about her work in Guatemala, gathering testimony from the indigenous Mayan women who survived rape during the genocide committed there.

The story follows the recent arrest of a former Guatemalan general, Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes, who has been charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the Ixil area of that country. Professor Sanford is completing work on a book with the working title Genocidio en la Area Ixil: El caso de Acul y testimonios de sobrevivientes (Genocide in the Ixil Area: The Case of Acul and Survivor Testimonies), which she hopes to publish prior to his trial.

Margot Wallstrom, the UN Secretary-General's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, welcomed Fuentes's arrest, saying that it sends a strong signal that justice can prevail in that nation. "Sexual violence thrives on silence and impunity," she said. "Women have no rights if those who violate their rights go unpunished." The UN helped the Guatemalan government establish an International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.

This summer, Professor Sanford is presenting her work from Guatemala at two international conferences in Spain. At the first, in Madrid ("Faces and Traces of Violence"), she will present a keynote address on the exhumations she helped to conduct that provided evidence of the genocide. At the next, in Santander, she will discuss her work with women survivors.