Femicide In The Country of Mexico

By: Adamaris Gallo, Andrea Cabezas, and Eric Garnica

Femicide is defined as: “the extreme and ultimate manifestation of existing forms of violence against women in patriarchal societies. Crimes of this kind reinforce the idea that women are sexual objects and belong to men. For a case to be considered femicide, there must be an implied intention to carry out the crime, as well as a demonstrated connection between the crime and the gender of the victim ”.

Pink crosses have become symbolic for those women who have fallen victim to the issue of femicide. More about the photo can be found here

Over the years, an increase in the violence against women is apparent all throughout the country of Mexico. This violence is carried out within many women’s own interpersonal relationships but are also the result of the overall violence occurring in the country. The Mexican government’s lack of penalty for perpetrators contributes to the normalization and continuance of femicide. After the declaration of the War on Drugs executed by President Felipe Calderon, violence in local communities in proximity to the confrontation between state and drug cartels are paying the price. Human Rights Watch reports: “Between December 2012 and January 2018, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) received more than 4,600 complaints regarding alleged abuses by the military”. Mexico’s War on Drugs heavily relies on the military to aid in the conflict, but there is little accountability on the part of the government that supervises their actions.

There are various international agencies and NGOs involved in Mexico’s case, for example, Amnesty International wrote an open letter to president elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, asking him to improve the current human rights violations in his first 100 days of his presidency. This letter summarizes the various human rights issues plaguing Mexico, but it also acknowledges certain strategies that the president elect can apply. In addition, in July,  the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urged the state to implement measures that decrease and combat discrimination against women – not only in the workplace – but measures that fight violence and human trafficking of women.

Women are underrepresented and have a lack of support from the government and because of this it pushes them to work for more fairness and equality. Essentially women are the ones who are enduring the most pain facilitated by the violence going on around them. With all the civil unrest and lack of support it prompts them to find their own solutions. In 1975 the women of Mexico drafted a declaration of rights stating what they expected and wanted to work toward, but as we know because declarations aren’t legally binding there’s nothing really to enforce them, but it was a step.

(1975) Opening meeting of the World Conference of the International Women’s Year. More about photo and event can be found here

In their declaration these women claimed that it was everyone’s job to recognize the injustices being carried out around them, they proposed more people to be aware of the crimes such as discrimination and scrutiny occurring against women. These women drew a set of principles that acted as rights for the people of their country. They asked for equal responsibilities between men and women in work and family, opportunities for women to reach their academic potential just as men do, respect for women to freely decide in a contract to matrimony, and more rights pertaining to express freely what they want for themselves. Women are constantly being antagonized and disregarded, but they make a big part of the country and often times are consistently harmed with no repercussions, and this declaration aims to claim no more neglect. The formal manner and the fact that the conference took place in the UN of Mexico demonstrates that the women had their breaking point with everything going on around them and it’s enough violence, and time for the government to become involved and advocate for change.

Women’s rights weren’t being advocated for and they didn’t do it just for the sake of being seen as equal in their counter gender’s eyes, but so respectively their value of life was recognized as simply meaningful. Males were domestically violent, the government gave no aid and continuously neglected the domestic issues, but it was time for a change because women would no longer succumb to a twisted mentality, that they weren’t as valuable.

Symbolic mask used for the advocacy of Femicide. More about the issue of femicide can be found here

The goals of the NGO’s and the Mexican government are, trying to assist women and find methods on stopping the violence. The approach that both entities have taken have different effects but what appears to be common is the lack of true progress for women. What the Mexican government has done in this decade to combat the issue of femicide is adjusting their federal budget. The federal budget requires, “the Government to earmark funds for programmes to promote gender equality and end gender discrimination and violence against women. Funds for those activities had increased 138 per cent since 2008, to almost $4.29 billion.” Although the government has made this significant change, state corruption remains a problem and any real progress has yet to be noticed, “Even with the implementation of these programs, however, femicide cases still see an impunity rate of 95 percent, indicating that of the almost 50,000 women killed, only about 2,500 resulted in convictions.”  NGOs do not have the same has structural influence as the federal government but the advocacy of femicide is more demanding. NGOs focus with the issue of femicide, is about resolving cases of missing women and those women who have been found dead. Women like, Norma Andrade, who co-founded the organization known as Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (May Our Daughters Return Home) fight for the, “returning the bodies of femicide victims to their families for a proper burial and bringing their aggressors to justice.” While efforts to bring justice to those affected families is a worthy cause to fight for, it comes with a danger that would fright many people. That danger is, the death threats and attempted murders on those who speak out on the issue of femicide. Unfortunately, the result of speaking out against these crimes have claimed the lives of women activist. A recent 2017 murder, is an example of the cost of seeking justice in Mexico. Miriam Elizabeth Rodríguez Martínez, “who became an activist for parents of missing children after her daughter was kidnapped and murdered five years ago was fatally shot by gunmen who broke into her home.” What was almaring about the death of Rodríguez Martínez was the fact that she was suppose to have government protection but the state failed to do so. The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commision, regarding the killing of Rodríguez Martínez, asks that, “the Government of Mexico to carry out a fair and impartial investigation into this case and to address the prevailing impunity that permits such attacks against human rights defenders.”

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Sources used:

Amnesty International. “Mexico: Amnesty International urges the president-elect to take action for human rights during his first 100 days.” Amnesty International. November 28, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/11/mexico-amnistia-internacional-pide-al-presidente-electo-que-actue-por-los-derechos-humanos-durante-sus-primeros-100-dias/.

Human Rights Watch. “Mexico Events of 2018.” Human Rights Watch. 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/mexico.

Lauren Cocking. “Meet the Mexican Activists Fighting for Women’s Rights.” Culture trip. February 22, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/meet-the-mexican-activists-fighting-for-womens-rights/.

Malone Gabor. “Femicide: Not One More.” Council on Hemispheric Affairs. October 24, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://www.coha.org/femicide-not-one-more/.

Manganara, Joanna. “Femicide.” International Alliance of Women. January 26, 2016. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://womenalliance.org/femicide.

Paulina Villegas. “Gunmen Kill Mexican Activist for Parents of Missing Children.” New York Times. May 12, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/world/americas/mexico-mother-activist-murdered-daughter-tamaulipas.html

United Nations. “Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace.” World Conference of the International Women’s Year. July 2, 1975. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://www.un-documents.net/mex-dec.htm.  

United Nations Human Rights Office of The High Commission. “Mexico: UN rights experts strongly condemn killing of human rights defender and call for effective measures to tackle impunity.” United Nations Human Rights Office of The High Commission. May 19. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21640.

United Nations. “Mexico Gaining Ground in Efforts to End ‘Femicide’, Other Violence against Women, Delegation Tells Anti-Discrimination Committee.” United Nations. July 12, 2012. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.un.org/press/en/2012/wom1917.doc.htm

“World Report 2019: Rights Trends in Mexico.” Human Rights Watch. January 17, 2019. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/mexico.

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