Rubio urges help for sexual assault of Guatemalan children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Marcos Rubio, along with California Sen. Barbara Boxer and 12 colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to make sure child sexual assault is given greater attention in regards to U.S. assistance in Guatemala.

"As you make determinations regarding future U.S. assistance to Guatemala, we urge you to ensure that resources are provided to improve the National Civil Police's Special Unit for Sex Crimes," the senators wrote. "We believe that with greater capacity and training, this unit could conduct prompt and professional investigations, coordinate effectively with prosecutors, and successfully locate and apprehend perpetrators of child sexual assault."

A quarter of adolescent women and girls in Guatemala reported they were victims of sexual violence within the past year, according to a report by Doctors Without Borders.

"Rapes and sexual assaults of women increased by 34 percent from 2008 to 2011, while in nine of every 10 of those cases, those responsible are not punished," a Human Rights Watch report noted.

While the Guatemalan government has taken stops to tackle the problem by creating a special unit for sex crimes, the unit still lacks the capacity and training that is needed to address the plague of child sexual assault in Guatemala.

"The Guatemalan government has taken some initial steps in its efforts to combat child sexual assault and the United States can be a partner as Guatemala works to make the country safer for women and girls," the senators added.