Update: Paraguay – Protest Abduction and Violence Against Lesbian on the Basis of Her Sexual Orientation

On May 16 2010 IGLHRC and a Paraguayan lesbian rights organization Aireana - Grupo de Derechos de las Lesbianas issued an Action Alert requesting people to write to Paraguayan authorities to urgently address the abduction of, and violence against, Norma Machado on the basis of her sexual orientation.

As a result of this Action Alert, Norma Machado, her partner and members of Aireana met with the Attorney General of Paraguay to discuss a response and future actions to be taken. In addition, the CODEHPUY (Paraguayan Human Rights Coordinator) is leading the judicial process to ensure a fair investigation of the case. Aireana was also able to request and obtain financial support from the Urgent Action Fund for Norma Machado, her partner and CODEHPUY for support during the judicial process and to the victim's safety and security.

IGLHRC and Aireana thank all those who responded to this Action Alert for their support.

The Issue

On April 7, 2010, a 20-year old lesbian, Norma Machado, was abducted from her home in Asunción, Paraguay by five family members and a family friend. She was dragged into a car where she was suffocated, strangled and subjected to multiple blows, resulting in severe bruising to her body. According to multiple news reports, one of her abductors was her uncle, Viviano Machado, former commander of National Police.

According to the report filed by Machado at Police Station Number 20 and the submission to the Attorney General of Paraguay by a leading human rights organization, Coordinadora Derechos Humanos Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Machado's abductors took her to Tapiti SRL, a private security provider co-owned by her uncle, Vidal Machado, currently member of National Police, dismissed in 2006 because alleged participation in crimes and reestablished by Supreme Court in March 2010. At Tapiti SRL, Machado was held against her will and subjected to three hours of humiliation and interrogation about her lesbianism. Her captors told her that she was the "black sheep" of the family, that she brought shame on the family, and that her lifestyle was perverted. They also accused her girlfriend of trafficking in persons and blamed her for Machado's lesbianism. Machado's abductors confiscated her cell phone and scrutinized its messages. Later the same day, she was taken against her will to her parents' home in Villa del Rosario, in the town of San Pedro, where she was confined for nine days, denied any means of outside communication and subjected to further interrogations and threats related to her sexual orientation until she could escape.

Since her escape, Norma Machado has been in hiding. Attempts to get a response from authorities have only resulted in a shifting of responsibility from one government office to another. To date, no adequate steps have been taken to protect her or to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Take Action

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins the Paraguayan lesbian rights organization Aireana – Grupo de Derechos de las Lesbianas in an urgent call for protest and solidarity.

IGLHRC and Aireana request that letters of condemnation be sent to the government of Paraguay demanding condemnation of this incident, a full and fair investigation into what transpired, and for all perpetrators to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, with a particular focus on the involvement and accountability of any police officers and private security agents.

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