Juanita Lopez
El Rapto / The Kidnapping

Oil on canvas - 10 x 13 in.

A woman on her way to draw water from the community fountain is being carried away by two men in broad daylight. Her water jug lies shattered on the ground. A friend is trying to protect her, but another woman is ignoring them all.

This image can be interpreted in a number of ways:

If a couple cannot obtain their parents' permission to marry, they may decide to elope by staging a kidnapping. Once the woman has been "stolen," no one else will marry her; in that case, their union would have to be accepted as a fait accompli.

Similarly, if the couple cannot afford the traditional three-day wedding fiesta, they may elope in this fashion. In either case, women are seen as chattel, to be taken by force.

In many cases, a man may simply seize a woman against her will and force her to become his wife—or force her into prostitution.

Guatemala is the most dangerous place for women in the Americas. Domestic violence is rampant, and the crime of femicide—the murder of women—is done with virtual impunity. The victims are raped, tortured, and their bodies mutilated.