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July 17, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

VOXXI: Human rights group blasts Mexico on women’s rights violations

By Kalyn Belsha / VOXXI News Monday, July 16, 2012.
A report by Amnesty International finds women’s rights violations are at a high in Mexico with 2,418 women murdered in 2010.

The official killings of women in Mexico have risen “rapidly” over the last three years, according to a recent report from the human rights watch group Amnesty International.

Women are three times more likely than men to die by “cruel” means such as hanging, strangulation, suffocation, drowning, poisoning or burning, according to the report.

Enrique Pena Nieto, candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and apparent winner of Mexico’s presidential election, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Monday, July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Using official data, the group found 2,418 women were murdered in Mexico in 2010 — the highest number on record. Under the governorship of now president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, the State of Mexico had one of the highest female murder rates in the country that year.

The report claims that despite recent legislative improvements at the federal and state level to eliminate discrimination, promote women’s equality and protect them from violence, the overall state of women’s rights in Mexico is “alarming.” The advocacy group expressed concerns not only with the number of women being killed, “but a continuing routine lack of effective investigations and justice.”

“Much of the problem… lies in the lack of effective implementation of these laws and the weakness of the institutions,” Amnesty International’s Mexico researcher said in a statement.

Amnesty International cited a November 2011 report issued by the United Nations, National Women’s Institute and Mexico’s Parliamentary Special Commission on Femicide that found flaws in the procedures for recording and documenting women’s murders, including failure to conduct full autopsies, which the group said impeded investigations.

Cases of rape and sexual violence — which the group says are “widespread” in Mexico — often go unsolved, the July report found. In 2009, there were 14,829 complaints of rape, only 2,795 of which resulted in a conviction — or less than one in five. In adjusting for the large percentage of women in Mexico who do not report their rapes (estimates can be as high as 80 percent), Amnesty International alleges the actual percentage is likely closer to one in 21 cases. 

As an example of the country’s systematic failure to prosecute and convict those charged with sexual violence, the report highlights a six-year-old case that happened in the State of Mexico under then-Governor Peña Nieto.

Amnesty International alleges that during a protest in San Salvador Atenco in May 2006, about 200 demonstrators were detained and at least 26 women reported being raped, sexually assaulted, tortured or treated badly by state police while being transferred to prison.

An officer was charged with “libidinous acts” — which could be touching or talking to a woman in an unwanted sexual way — and several others were accused of abuse of authority. All of the officers were acquitted based on lack of evidence. The report alleges that the “poor quality investigations by Mexico state prosecutors… ensure[ed] acquittals and decisions not to prosecute.”

Part of the problem, the report says, is that the federal government blames the state government for failing to take action, and won’t step in.

This case “demonstrates how impunity is sometimes allowed to prevail as the federal authorities claim they do not have the power to ensure compliance,” the report stated.

According to Reuters, Peña Nieto accepted responsibility for what happened to the protestors and said it was “one of his most difficult moments as governor.”

What happened to female protestors helped prompt the formation of #YoSoy132, a youth-led movement that was active in speaking out against Peña Nieto during the Mexican elections. A group of students protested Peña Nieto’s visit to a university during his campaign, due to his human rights record as governor, and later rallied together.

The students are now speaking out against Mexico’s history of corruption and impunity, which was associated with the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) during its 71-year-rule of Mexico. The PRI lost power in 2000; Peña Nieto is the first PRI candidate to take office since then.

Amnesty International, which is based in London, submitted its report to a United Nations committee that will decide by July 27 whether Mexico is complying with the U.N.’s gender discrimination treaty. Mexico, which signed the treaty in 1980, is supposed to comply with the agreement’s provisions and submit documentation every four years that detail attempts to fix problems.

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