A young girl at one of the detention centers in the Guatemalan jungle told her harrowing story to the Office of the Special Envoy for Gender Equality, held in conjunction with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Guatemala (UNMAS):

How I fell in love with Maria, a boy

We were living in a ravine. It was only mud. You can feel your blood flowing through your body. Suddenly we had to take a road to walk to the house. A man arrived to ask where we were going. A big man. The day he arrived I decided I was not going back. He held me while he raped me. We went home without even leaving the van.

I wanted to run. I remember that. But every morning when we woke up, the big man was still there waiting for me. At first I didn’t want to try to wake him. I was afraid to get out of the shack. After we were sleeping, I called my cousin and asked her to pick me up. She came and took me to the hospital. I stayed there for three days until my mother found me.

It happened a few times. I remember the time when it was raining and the man put a piece of paper over my mouth and raped me. He said he would kill me if I made any noise. Sometimes he would arrive in the morning and I would not be able to wake up for another two hours until I was in bed.

I had no fear. All the times he was waiting outside and I thought of that day.

How he kept repeating ‘You need to tell your story’

I have been coming here since I was 15 and I was here longer than many of the girls.

Maria was the guy who raped me. Now he is in prison. She is in prison because she helped me to report the rape. He has been here for three and a half years. She said the police officer who arrested him was a man who was happy because he saw that a boy was being raped. He said he would marry Maria and it would be the last girl the police arrested.

Maria is in prison because she helped a little girl to report a rape in which the father was the aggressor. She was in prison for five and a half years. In prison the girls talk very quietly.

The police officer promised Maria that he would get married her. Then she saw in the newspaper the girl who had made the complaint. She could not believe it was really her. She could not believe that all those years of abuse was just one woman.

Familiar is the first word I could find when I was thinking of him. I know my name is Maya. All the girls know their names.