Mexico’s Women: Victims of Violence and Impunity
According to official figures reported in today’s edition, the country has a scandalous and unacceptable incidence of sexual offenses, which primarily affect the female population. In the first quarter of this year, 4,375 sexual assaults were reported, in addition to the 699 cases of rape and a large number of episodes succinctly identified as "other sexual offenses." If this trend continues, the current year will close with a number of violations very similar to that in 2013 (13,504 acts of sexual abuse), although it would still remain below the numbers seen in 2012 and 2011 (respectively, 14,566 and 15,751).
Behind the official statistics is presumably found a black number of such great proportions that it is impossible to determine exactly, but that some agencies such as the National Women’s Institute have estimated at more than 100,000 cases a year, starting from calculations that assume that for every reported crime there are eight others unreported.
The unconcealable backdrop of these data and estimates is the widespread violence vented against the women of Mexico. Their barbarous expressions are the sexual assaults and murders against this group, many committed for reasons of gender.
The unfavorable, hurtful and even tragic circumstances facing women in Mexico have structural components of various kinds, from the socioeconomic–unemployment, uncertainty, scarcity, educational deterioration, corruption and breakdown of the social fabric, to name a few–up to the cultural, such as the entrenched sexism and discrimination in education and work environments, as well as the conservative clerical offensive aimed at depriving the population in general, and women in particular, of their reproductive and gender rights. What’s more, with the thinning of the rule of law that prevails in large parts of the country, the persistent murders of women, the cases of sexual exploitation, domestic violence, abuse and other expressions of gender violence end up being diluted in simple violence that erodes even more the prospects for justice and resolution for victims.
As a phenomenon, the social barbarism against women certainly has multiple and complex causes; hence, it would be inappropriate to demand that federal, state and municipal authorities eradicate them all at once. However, it is certainly appropriate to demand elimination of the margins of impunity and corruption that have made possible not only the chilling increase in femicide in various parts of the country, but the boom in the business of human trafficking, exploitation and sexual assaults against the female population. In some states, such as the state of Mexico, to name but one of the most egregious examples, it is clear that violence against women could not have become a plague without a context of inefficiency and breakdown of police structures–perhaps also the breakdown of jurisdictional agencies. Nor could it have become a plague without the indifferent and dismissive attitudes such as that epitomized recently in the statement by Governor Eruviel Avila that there are "more important matters to attend to" than the high number of femicides pummeling the state.
The different levels of government, beginning with the federal, are faced with the double and complicated task of overcoming negative antecedents on the subject of protection of women and of formulating public policies and concrete actions for facing up to the discrimination and gender violence. So long as these phenomena persist, the country will not have the moral authority to call itself civilized.
Translated by Jane Brundage