Gender-Based Violence Survivor Finds Peaceful Ending to a Traumatic Story
25 November 2021
From the claws of sexual violence, Salvadoran mother rises to bring a hopeful future to her daughter in Belize.
Mercy* is pouring fruit juice in plastic containers and loading them into her ice-filled bucket. Every day, she visits different neighborhoods in Belmopan selling her freshly made orange, lime, cantaloupe, and watermelon juice to the public. Since schools are closed due to the pandemic, she takes her children along with her.
“At nine am, we are already on the street selling. We either ride a bike or walk as we offer juice to passers-by.”
Mercy is a single mother of two children. When she was 21, and her daughter was only 4, she was raped by members of a criminal gang in her home country of El Salvador.
“One of them raped me. Then another. They did what they wanted with me,” she said.
Her daughter was being held outside – at gunpoint – by another gang member.
“I told them, I will do whatever you guys ask me but please let me live. I have my daughter,” Mercy said.
They threatened to kill her in front of her child, but she begged for her life and they gave her the choice of paying $500 US dollars by the next day so that she could live.
Mercy and her family lived in a humble village with no electricity. She had never had that amount of money in her pocket, but it was a matter of life or death. Kindness came her way, and she was able to borrow the money and after doing so, ran for her and her daughter’s life.
Belize has over 2,500 asylum seekers that have fled their homes due to violence and persecution. UNHCR is committed to promoting gender equality and human rights to all these persons that are fleeing for their lives to protect them from Gender-Based Violence.
Since coming to Belize, Mercy is most grateful for the safety that she has been able to give her children. “I love the peaceful nature here and enjoy walking to the park in the evenings with my children.”
When she thinks about her family and life back in El Salvador, Mercy is heartbroken that she had to leave them behind so suddenly. She never thought she would be someone who had to drop everything and run for her life.
“I feel more comfortable in Belize, at peace. I feel good because I’m far away from the danger. My daughter can go to school. My children are free.”