As we find ourselves on the last Wednesday of the month, we are honored to have this remarkable Guatemalan figure as our QUEEN SHEVA of today. The celebrated and praiseworthy human rights activist: Norma Cruz.
By the age of 6, Norma Cruz, along with her 2 sisters, was being raised by her aunts, uncles and grandparents. Her dad died of cancer and her mom wasn’t in the picture anymore since the divorce some years earlier. But that didn’t stop Norma. Since she was young, she was always up to participate in everything and anything. She recalls that most of the time, she may have not known how to do things, like play an instrument, but she wasn’t going to pass the opportunity to be part of something big, like the band. So, she learned how to play the trumpet and was part of the band in high school.
Since she was raised by so many moms and dads, the conversations that happened around the household were never censored. She grew up talking about the reality of Guatemala at it’s truest form, she knew about the revolution and she knew about poverty. She was always aware of what was happening. By 12, she was participated in her Church’s missions to the rural areas of Guatemala (Cobán in particular) where she would see, with her own eyes, the reality of the indigenous communities. She saw their living arrangements on the plantations and how women would die when giving birth.
At 16, she left her house and joined revolutionary movement in Guatemala fighting for equality and justice. She had to go to Nicaragua for a while, as an exile, and then came back in 1996 when the peace treaty was signed.
And it was in 1999, when she started to do the work we know her for today. When her daughter was about to turn 15, and Norma wanted to celebrate her Quinciañera, she told Norma that she had been sexually abused for years by her mother’s partner. At it was right then and there, that Norma decided to fight for her daughter and fight for justice.
Despite all the negative comments and lack of support from her family and peers, Norma set out to charge the lead of a good fight. At the time in Guatemala, sexual abuse and violence against women cases were rarely reported and if it was, it had very little punishment. After a very long, painful, and arduous process, they finally convicted the perpetrator in 2003.
In the eyes of most officials in power, government, and society, violence against women was seen as normal. Especially sexual abuse. One incident that made Norma and her daughter decide to help others, was when at a government building they met a little boy who was sexually abused. They boy and his mother were devastated because the crime wasn’t punishable because he was a boy. There was no law that punished sexual abuse towards male victims.
And that was something, Norma and her daughter wanted to change.
Norma and her daughter Claudia Maria founded Fundación Sobrevivientes (Survivors Foundation) with a mission to defend victims of domestic and sexual abuse, illegal adoptions, and human trafficking. They provide social, legal and emotional support to hundreds of people who are seeking justice and protection. Norma still continues her fight for justice and it hasn’t been easy at all. Since the beginning of her fight for justice, she’s received countless threats. Now, it has even started with her family. And still, she is not giving up. For her amazing efforts, she has received several awards, including the honor of being named an International Woman of Courage.
Norma is a force to be reckoned with and we are all better off having her fighting the good fight for justice. Norma is the definition of a QUEEN SHEVA.