Aid Cuts Threaten Central American Women and Children

IJM: Loving our neighbors abroad means giving them the kind of police we want for our own communities.

What would it take for you to leave your home—to grab your kids, the bare essentials, abandon your house and run?

Would you do it if there weren’t competent police in your town? Or if you realized that you aren’t living under rule of law but under rule of might, where the strong just take what they want even if it’s yours? Would you finally decide to leave the day local gang members started following your twelve-year-old daughter home from school?

This is the grinding reality of everyday violence in the Northern Triangle nations of Central America. And it has been more than enough to make many of the vulnerable citizens of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala decide that the perilous, often fatal journey north is a better bet than staying home.

There are innovative, effective programs—many funded by the US government—that are addressing this violence and instability. The win-win of such programs is that they not only serve vulnerable people often forced to run for their lives, but they also make staying home a real possibility for many people who, violence aside, have no desire to migrate.

The irony is that these successful State Department-funded aid programs have been abruptly and completely stopped as a means of punishing Central American nations whose citizens are fleeing for their lives.

At International Justice Mission (IJM), that aid made it possible to expand our existing program combatting sexual violence against children to four provinces in Guatemala. We’ve trained police and prosecutors to combat this crime and have developed national standards for investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. We’ve created trauma-informed processes, now observed across the country, …

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