By Samantha Baer
Each year the Global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Against Women runs from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until December 10, International Human Rights Day. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the campaign, and in commemoration of this milestone, there will be a special focus on femicide, the intentional killing of women because they are women. Every day, at least 10 women and girls are murdered in Mexico. As Amnesty International USA observes the 16 Days of Activism this year, we invite you to take action and stand in solidarity with courageous activists in Mexico in their campaign to end femicide and violence against women and girls.
Femicide, or the intentional murder of women because they are women, is the most extreme part of a spectrum of gender-based violence that impacts women and girls around the world. Women and girls in Mexico are particularly affected, with at least 10 women and girls killed each day in Mexico in 2020, and with around a third of those cases designated as femicides. These gender-based murders clearly violate the human right of women to live free from violence, and they expose the discrimination and threats that women face in their daily lives.
These threats can come from private or public sources, and in many instances, state officials either perpetrate, downplay, or ignore this violence. This report from Amnesty International details the failings of the Mexican justice system in investigating femicide cases, with issues ranging from loss of evidence to inadequate investigation to purposely not categorizing cases as femicides. In Mexico, impunity for perpetrators is estimated to be as high as 93%, leaving devastated family members to try to fight for justice on behalf of their loved ones. Those who do attempt to utilize the court system are exposed to discrimination and harassment.
The women of Atenco typify the mishandling of gender-based violence investigations in Mexico. In May 2006, during a police response to a protest by a local organization, more than 45 women were arrested and many were subjected to sexual violence by police officers. The prison’s medical staff neglected to appropriately catalogue their injuries, and only one of the 34 state police officers involved was ever prosecuted (and was eventually acquitted). The 11 survivors who have attempted to bring their case to the Inter-American Court were re-victimized throughout their court case and are still seeking to hold their attackers accountable through the justice system. Perpetrators of femicide and gender-based violence in Mexico must be held accountable for their actions, and the government organizations that have neglected these cases for years must change their practices.