08/20/12—This past week the Congress of the state of Jalisco unanimously approved an initiative to modify state Penal and Procedural Codes to make femicide—the murder of a woman motivated by gender violence and/or discrimination—a separate and independent crime, which, if charged with, would result in 20 to 40 years in prison for the assailant(s). Any homicide in which the perpetrator has committed acts of hate or misogyny against the female victim may be charged as a femicide. Courts may consider prior acts of “humiliation or denigration” against the victim and wounds to and mutilation of the body (before or after death) as evidence of the crime. Homicides arising from sexual assault or homophobic acts may also be charged as femicide, as well cases involving domestic violence.
The Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) member who presented the bill expressed hopes that the new law will incentivize prosecutors and law enforcement to focus more on the victims of these crimes. Legal experts from the University of Guadalajara commented that, although the state has lagged 20 years behind Mexico’s Federal District (Distrito Federal) in passing this law, and that further reforms are still needed, this is an important step forward in combating gender violence.
On the same day, Jalisco’s Congress also approved the creation of a new State Law to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate Human Trafficking, following the mandate of Article 10 of the Federal Law to Prevent, Sanction, and Eradicate Human Trafficking Crimes and Assist Victims. The new state legislation explicitly allows the federal law to define the crimes committed under these laws, as mandated by Article 73 of Mexico’s constitution. Crimes that fall under this legislation include some types of prostitution, kidnapping, and human smuggling, as well as exploitative labor and sexual practices.
Along with the new law, Jalisco’s Congress also legislated to create a state program to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking, which will work to implement the law, and develop public policy to prevent crimes of this type while bringing offenders to justice. It also provides for services to and protection of victims and witnesses of human trafficking, and creates a state fund dedicated to these activities.