On February 14, women marched to the Presidential Palace in Mexico City, covering the door in fake blood and the Spanish message “Femicide State” as they demanded justice for the gruesome killing of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla. Stabbed to death by her husband, then skinned to cover up the crime; images of Ingrid’s corpse were leaked by forensic workers, and the local newspaper La Prensa published one of these images on its front page. “It was cupid’s fault,” the headline joked. Despite public criticism, La Prensa defended its decision, stating that “the government prefers to stay quiet.” Mexico’s frustration over the nationwide femicide epidemic is refuelled as ethical reporting practices and government complicity are brought under the spotlight yet again.
Not wanting “femicide to overshadow the raffle for the presidential plane,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador downplayed the issue’s gravity on his daily press conference last Tuesday, arguing that “there’s been a lot of manipulation on femicide…the media is telling a lot of lies.” Despite not committing to specific actions in response to the incident, he insists that he is “not sticking his head in the sand, not evading my responsibility.”
Condemning the disrespectful actions of media outlets, Mexico National Institute of Women called for more ethical reporting practices. “The distribution of pictures of such violence caused further victimization to the families and the victims,” they said on Wednesday, contending that images of criminal violence against women circulating jeopardize the victims’ dignity and privacy. More than the worrying record high of femicide rates in Mexico, activists are reproving of the fact that most cases go unsolved and only a measly percentage of criminals are prosecuted.
In Mexico, an average of 10 women are killed in a day, and while Ingrid’s death is only one in thousands of femicide cases, the leaked images of her dismembered body on social media ignited widespread indignation in Mexico—triggering a fresh round of protests over the record-breaking 35% spike in femicide. The violence in Mexico has turned into an epidemic—murders of female workers plague border regions, their disappearances uninvestigated—reports of rape and sexual harassment on campuses and brutal killings of women have sparked an increase in nationwide protests.
Amnesty International has also warned against the lack of progress on the human rights in Mexico last November. Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director for Mexico, states that “there’s no sign of practical short of medium-term measures that would overcome the reluctance to correctly investigate cases of femicide and end impunity.” As Amnesty International called on the López Obrador administration, they must accept responsibility for Mexico’s situation, incorporate human rights as an essential component of legislations, and conduct thorough, independent and impartial investigations into femicide cases.
In order to curb this epidemic, the circumstances and social dynamics that perpetuate femicide must also be addressed and inform investigations. As Isabel Chellor from Berkeley Political Review reminds us, “murder is merely the most grotesque result of societal thinking that devalues women’s bodies and lives.” While the government’s complicit indifference is inexcusable, and that justice for the victims must be put on the forefront, we must eliminate social structures perpetuating widespread misogynistic thought that leads to this violent behaviour in the first place. This deadly pattern of machismo and its expression through violence must stop. No one deserves to experience intimate or domestic violence and not one more family should lose their daughter. Safety should be a state-sanctioned human right, and no one should ever have to protest law enforcement’s failure to prosecute murderers.
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