Mexico Women Protest Against The Growing Threat of Femicide

Women in Mexico have demonstrated their outrage at the gendered violence that has continued to ravage the country. August 12th and 16th saw women protesting in Mexico City following the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl by police officers earlier this month.

These actions have become popularised as the Glitter Revolution as women have used glitter to show their outrage and intolerance against the violence. This has included throwing pink glitter at Mexico’s Security Minister Jesus Orta Martinez. Women have also used other acts of vandalism to have their voices heard, for example, using spray paint on monuments, damaging public transport and smashing the glass doors of the Attorney-General’s office. Much of the media within Mexico has focused predominantly on the vandalism these protests have caused, rather than the message of the protest itself. Instead, it should be noted that these acts of vandalism are the extent to which women in Mexico have been pushed, in order to have their voices heard and to make government officials wake up and address the violence.

Mexico City Mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, addressed the events following the protests stating that “The door to the government is open to citizens for dialogue and always will be . . . The demand [for the eradication of gender violence] has to be addressed and public policy is needed for that.”

Abigail Ríos the founder of feminist association Wo+Men as reported by Merion West stated that “I have experienced gender violence on many occasions, some of which I am not ready to tell. These experiences are not isolated; they are the daily-bread of women living in Mexico.”

According to the International Policy Digest, approximately 1,812 women were murdered between January and July this year alone. The statistic asserts that nearly 10 women a day are being murdered in Mexico, making it Latin America’s second-most dangerous country for women, following Brazil.
In 2012 this wave of violence against women was labelled femicide and became a new statutory offence. The term is defined as “when a woman is killed for gender-specific reasons.” Deutsche Welle highlights the following reasons: signs of sexual violence, mutilation, degrading wounds, a history of familial violence, the body being placed in a public place or if there is a sentimental, affective or trustful relationship between the murderer and the victim.

However, despite this now being an offence the violence has still not stopped. In many cases, the perpetrators are not effectively prosecuted and in many courts this statute is still not effectively implemented, with only 15 out of 33 Mexican states even mentioning femicide within their criminal codes. Consequently, women living outside of those 15 states have no protection against such abusive and violent behaviour.

Ignoring women and excluding them from the systems of society cannot continue. It is beyond clear that women require protection and action needs to be taken. Consequently, a unified approach needs to be considered. Civil society and both state and federal government need to come together to fight these gendered motivations for violence and assert the need for re-education as to how women are perceived within society and that violence cannot go unpunished. A strong commitment needs to be made and it needs to happen now.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had campaigned with the promises of a progressive gender scheme and with promises to transform Mexico. This included the promise to dedicate more government resources to the prevention and investigation of femicides.

However, since his landslide election last year, no clear action has been taken. Rather, the administration has instead repealed federal policies which had been designed to protect and empower Mexican women. This includes the internationally lauded day-care program. Due to austerity measures, public spending has been cut to these services which provided low-income families access to state-subsidised childcare. With women being the primary caregivers, not having an adequate and affordable option for child-care keeps them out of jobs and reiterates stereotypes. This contributes to society’s expectations of women and keeps them from providing their own incomes and forms of self-reliance and independence.

Deutsche Welle has reported that women represent nearly 60% of Mexico’s population. With over half of the population being placed at risk of violent altercations the administration must take swift action. No more families should have to be told that their daughter, sister or mother has been murdered. No more women should have stories of abuse and violence being perpetrated against them. These actions need to stop, and it is up to the government to be held accountable and to protect those at risk by working in a unified manner to take real action.

Isha Tembe