The women, who had damaged no legal guidelines and posed no menace to society, have been victims even earlier than the hearth. As survivors of sexual abuse, violence or abandonment — typically by the hands of their very own households — the federal government had assigned them to the establishment for their very own security. In idea, the world exterior posed the best menace to them.
“These are girls who had been abused, sometimes raped, by members of their own family,” mentioned Norma Cruz, the director of Survivors, a group representing the households of practically two dozen victims. “These girls were placed there for their protection.”
The Virgin de Asuncion Hogar Seguro was created for youngsters with nowhere else to go. Opened in 2010, it housed boys and women from infancy to 17 in a gated facility on the perimeters of the capital, Guatemala City.
Escape had lengthy been a theme of the house. Between September and November of 2016 alone, greater than 90 youngsters ran away, based on prosecutors who’ve charged greater than a dozen officers in reference to the hearth.
Local journalists had recounted harrowing reviews of abuse inside the house as far again as 2013 — rotten meals, filthy bedsheets that precipitated pores and skin ailments, violent orderlies.
Then, in February 2017, one other batch of youngsters started planning their very own escape.
It started on Valentine’s Day, when the kids have been allowed to mingle. Scores of boys and women agreed on a day to flee, however phrase of the plot started to leak. Around lunchtime on March 7, two women faked a battle within the cafeteria, drawing the orderlies into the fracas.
The others ran.
Nearly 100 in all, they scaled the partitions of the outer constructing and jumped into a ravine, a few injuring themselves within the fall. They scattered throughout a creek, taking off in numerous instructions.