I don't think we have the full picture, but for some reason, the mutilation and murder of women in Guatemala is out of control and getting worse. The BBC notes:
The raped and mutilated body of Andrea Contreras Bacaro, 17, was found wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown into a ditch, her throat cut, her face and hands slashed, with a gunshot wound to the head. The word "vengeance" had been gouged into her thigh.
Sandra Palma Godoy, 17, said to have witnessed a killing in her home town, was missing for a week before her decomposing body was found next to a local football pitch. Her breasts, eyes and heart had been mutilated, reports said.
A look at the statistics shows a disproportionate amount of anti-woman violence.
According to Amnesty International, which has collated these stories and others in a new report on the killing of women in Guatemala, the country's leaders must share the blame for an epidemic of violence that has killed more than 1,500 women in under four years.
The brutality of the killings... reveal that extreme forms of sexual violence and discrimination remain prevalent in Guatemalan societyAmnesty International report
In 2001, the first year separate records were kept for men and women, 222 women were registered as murdered, Guatemalan human rights activists have told the BBC.
By 2004 that figure had more than doubled, to 494. In the first five months of 2005, the tally reached 225 - considerably more than one killing every day.
Remember that Guatemala only has 13 million people -- it's a small country. The article mentions 36 years of civil war and a previously male-dominated society, but there must be more to it that is not visible with the few reports available. One linked story showed the rise of birth control, especially vasectomies as a way to limit the number of children. Of course, wherever contraception takes root, degradation of women increases. If there was already a gross misogyny present, birth control would only exacerbate it.
The Guatemalan government last year made the promotion of family planning and reproductive health a priority, and it is slowly catching on. The use of condoms is steadily increasing, for example, but they are not widely available. And challenging 'macho' attitudes is proving difficult.
"It's a socio-cultural problem. Vasectomies just haven't taken off here. But we have created special programmes to try and encourage more men to consider the option," Dr Roberto Santizo from the Guatemalan Health Department told the BBC.
So there are two problems -- each fueling the other, though only one is defined as a problem. No solutions in sight, but prayers needed all the same. Catholicism is not the backbone of society any longer and the decline has been brutal.