Seven Bolivian Mennonites sentenced to 25 years for rape

Manitoba Colony, a reclusive Mennonite community in Bolivia, was thrust into the spotlight after 130 women and girls accused a group of neighborhood men of attacking them in the middle of the night.

We recently published an article on a rape trial in Bolivia involving a Mennonite community where 130 women and girls came forward claiming they were raped by men in their community.

According to allegations, a gang of men committed their crimes in 2005 by entering the homes of sleeping families and using an animal sedative on the inhabitants. This week Bolivian courts handed down a sentence of 25 years in prison for seven of the defendants.

It is unclear what the impact of the verdict will have on the community, particularly the Mennonite women.

As our contributing reporter heard from victims and their husbands, part of the reason that the crimes carried on for so long is that the men refused to believe women, after they awoke with foggy memories and pains. It was not until a victim caught two men in her home in 2009 that the community started listening.

Women stayed on the sidelines of the trial. One even said she wished that she could speak to a psychologist about her experience. But the men have largely dismissed that request. One of them said that the end of the trial would bring closure: "We will be at peace when there is a guilty verdict."

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