Women’s Human Rights Defenders in Mexico Risk Reprisals

By Kaitlyn O’Shaughnessy

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.

While femicide has long posed a problem in Mexico, several women’s human rights defenders have very visibly stepped up to speak out and protest over the last few years. The #NiUnaMenos (“not one woman less”) campaign began in Argentina in 2015 and swept through Latin America, including Mexico. The “revolución diamantina” or “glitter revolution” began in 2019 in Mexico in reaction to the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a police officer. Protests continued into 2020 and 2021.

The risk of violence against those who demonstrate, protest and publicize femicide and violence against women and girls is high. Amnesty International publicized a report earlier this year on police violence against such protestors in Mexico. The report noted that despite feminist demonstrations and protests against gender-based violence against women being mostly peaceful, police have started to stigmatize them as violent. The authorities have responded to these demonstrations, which activists should be able to participate in because they have a human right to peaceful assembly, with excessive and unnecessary use of force, arbitrary detentions, verbal and physical gender-based abuse against women and sexual violence. Amnesty International researchers found that several of these practices breach the prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Take the case of Wendy Galarza as an example. Wendy is a dedicated childcare worker who speaks out against sexism and violence in her home country, Mexico. Police brutally beat her and shot her twice during a protest organized by feminist collectives on November 9, 2020, in Cancun. Police brutalized other women, like Quetzaly Rojas, as well. Wendy and Quetzaly were protesting to demand justice for the murder of another woman. Despite Wendy’s complaint against the police, her assailants have gone unpunished. Wendy continues to fight for accountability and the right of women and girls to live their lives free from femicide and gender-based violence. Take action to demand justice for Wendy now.

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