08242019Sat
Last updateFri, 23 Aug 2019 9am

Civil society awaits a national response to escalating gender violence in Mexico

Certain activists aren’t pleased with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s perceived ambivalence to combatting femicide in Mexico.

“It would be great to have a meeting with the president, for him to listen to us and know that we have experience, documents and proposals ready to go,” said María de la Luz Estrada of the National Citizen Observatory of Femicide (OCNF). “To that extent, we will then know if the federal government is committed to us.”

On February 5, Assistant Secretary of Human Rights Alejandro Encinas touted a “prospective” national strategy to battle gender violence.

So far, there have been no reports of such a motion.

“It will be eventually announced,” said Encinas, during a press conference at the National Palace, where his committee also premiered the government’s new campaign to resolve 40,000 disappearances in Mexico  “Meanwhile, work is being done to monitor this phenomenon as a homicide as well as hate crimes.”

Mobile alert systems have been implemented in 17 Mexican states to prevent gender-based crimes yet OCNF officials worry about leaders downplaying aggression against women. Certain femicide cases get miscategorized or go unreported altogether, which may foster a culture of lawlessness.

“When disguising ‘monsters’ with ‘serial crimes,’ that’s what disturbs us,” said Estrada in a recent Debate article. “What concerns us is that they make the phenomenon invisible and cultivate impunity.”

Based on an interview with Pablo Navarrete Gutiérrez, coordinator of Legal Affairs at the National Women’s Institute, Mexico City daily El Universal reported that the main challenge in tackling femicide in Mexico is state politics. Specifically, each jurisdiction classifies femicide differently,  creating legislative holes for law enforcement.

“The data we have collected from these discrepancies have allowed us to keep insisting before the procurator’s offices and prosecutors so that all cases of violence (toward women) are processed as femicides,” said Gutiérrez.

In retrospect, Lopez Obrador spoke fervently about curbing Mexico’s increasing rate of gender violence during his presidential campaign. Back in October 2018, the president-elect emphasized how he would personally oversee the improvement of police forces alongside human rights defenders to stop femicide.

“I will not delegate this matter to any other official,” said Obrador said last year, while stressing the need to maintain gender violence alerts for peace in the country. “I will attend to it directly.”

According to El Excelsior, the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Health System (SESNEP) had gathered approximately 760 case files of unsolved femicide investigations until last November. Around half of these cases came from Sinaloa, Nuevo León, Veracruz, Chihuahua, Mexico State and Mexico City.

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