Key Case: Mindi Rodas, Guatemala
In 2009, Mindi Rodas told her husband she was leaving him because he was having an affair. As they took a walk down by the river in Santa Rosa, he attacked the 22 year-old mother, saying it was “either him or no one.” Mindi was savagely beaten by her husband with a rock and received extensive facial injuries with a knife – left naked and for dead. A local farmer found her and called for help.
As Mindi was in hospital, her husband – Esteban Lopez – was arrested and charged with attempted femicide. His lawyer tried to pressure Mindi to drop the charges but she refused. However, days later the lawsuit was dismissed when the defense presented a letter from Mindi requesting all charges to be dropped against Esteban. A handwriting expert later found that the signature had been forged.
The attack had left Mindi disfigured and requiring extensive surgery. Organizations in Mexico assisted with travel and medical arrangements to bring her to the country for reconstructive surgery where the process successfully began. Working closely with La Fundación Sobrevivientes, the case was reopened and the handwritten note thrown out. Esteban was re-arrested and charged.
After living in a shelter in the country’s capital, Mindi moved to be closer to her community of Santa Rosa in 2010. On December 17, Mindi left home and the next day her body was found in Guatemala City. Lacking any identification, her body was buried in a common grave until Mindi’s mother identified her photograph in the morgue one month later. Mindi had been tortured and choked to death.
In July 2011, Esteban was found guilt of attempted femicide and was sentenced to prison. Mindi’s death remains unpunished.
“Mindy Rodas, the woman without a face, was buried in December as Jane Doe,” Guatemala Human Rights Commissions/USA, 21 January 2011.
“Sentencian a 62 años de cárcel al esposo de Mindi Rodas,” Prensa Libre, 5 July, 2011 (only in Spanish).
“Femicide: Guatemala’s growing epidemic,” New Internationalist, 22 August 2011.