“Justice for My Sister” Takes On Gender Violence in El Salvador

Four-hundred and fifty young men and women in El Salvador faced the provocative question of American filmmaker Kimberly Bautista: Who is responsible in cases of violence against women, the perpetrator or the victim? The answer was summarized simply by Veronica Sandoval, 22, a journalism student at the Catholic University of El Salvador (UNICAES): The person responsible is always the aggressor. “We must speak out about the reality of violence against women.” she added. “We often ignore it or see it as normal, but although it is unfortunately common, we can never see it as normal.”

Similar enriching reflections were heard in all of the ten screenings of the documentary film “Justice for My Sister”, in the largest cities of El Salvador during a two-week effort to raise awareness of all types of violence against women, from psychological abuse to homicide. Bautista has been touring Central America with the film to tell the story of Rebeca Chacon, a Guatemalan who worked to bring the killer of her sister, Adela, to justice.

Youth from two high schools and three universities, and women’s rights activists from several organizations used the film as a starting point to discuss gender violence in El Salvador; its negative impact on families, children and communities; and the role each Salvadoran can play to confront this reality.

While in El Salvador, Bautista conducted two workshops for women’s groups to show them how they can use the documentary to spread the message. She also began production on a short film about a survivor of domestic violence in El Salvador. The film will be added to the “Justice for My Sister” web series. Her visit was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy as part of its cultural outreach.