For me, 8 March is not a day of greetings and congratulations. It is a day to commemorate one of the most cruel and shocking tragedies to have occurred on our continent: the sentencing to death of 56 girls in the Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home in Guatemala, perpetrated by the Guatemalan state under the presidency of Jimmy Morales, who directly gave the order to keep them locked up and thus condemned them to an atrocious death, burned alive.

On that day, the Congress remained silent. So did the Supreme Court of Justice, the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. All complicit in an unspeakable act. The television screens showed it all in detail but, to date, the culprits have escaped justice, starting with the former president.

In the days that followed, commentary was divided between those who experienced horror at the tragedy and those who, echoing the atavistic prejudices of a divided society, blamed the victims for their own holocaust.

These girls, as journalist Mariela Castañón had denounced in detailed reports in the newspaper La Hora, were abused in an institution run by the Social Welfare Secretariat of the Presidency of Guatemala, whose mission is to protect children and adolescents from abuse and neglect.

Subsequent allegations found that the girls were raped and suffered extreme punishments, as well as deprivation of food, health care and education. It was also denounced that the centre had been transformed into a sex trafficking site, where the inmates were subjected to prostitution and silence.

This happened on 8 March and we cannot forget it. On that day 41 girls were burnt to death and only 15 survived, if we can even call survival the condemnation of living covered in burns and with serious physical and psychological consequences and who, as a culmination of the abuse they suffered, have received threats to prevent them from talking about the true facts that led them to protest.

8 March is not a day for congratulations or sugar-coated messages. It is a day to remember how far we still have to go to achieve equal rights, to stop the abuse of women, adolescents and girls in a framework of patriarchal societies indifferent to their situation of inequality. March 8th is a day to be ashamed of our submission to a patriarchal, retrograde and perverse system.

It is time to assume our responsibility in this scenario of injustice and to fight against the lack of human sensitivity of those in power who allow tragedies like this to happen.