06/26/20 (written by RKuckertz)- In the early hours of Friday, June 26, a group of at least twelve individuals attacked Mexico City’s secretary of public security, Omar García Harfuch, and his convoy in the Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood of Mexico City. The attack was carried out just past 6:30 am local time at the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and Monte Blanco, where the group of armed assailants was waiting for García Harfuch’s convoy. The attackers used assault rifles and hand grenades, resulting in multiple injuries to members of the convoy and three casualties: two police officers and one passerby. García Harfuch himself sustained multiple bullet wounds, but Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum reported via Twitter this morning that he was “doing well and out of danger.”
Mexico City’s Attorney General Ernestina Godoy announced that an investigation had been opened, with twelve suspects already in custody. While no group has yet claimed responsibility for this morning’s attack, García Harfuch tweeted that members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG) were to blame. Mayor Sheinbaum as well as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador attributed the attacks to García Harfuch’s steadfast commitment to ensuring peace in Mexico City and throughout the country.
Esta mañana fuimos cobardemente atacados por el CJNG, dos compañeros y amigos míos perdieron la vida, tengo tres impactos de bala y varias esquirlas. Nuestra Nación tiene que continuar haciéndole frente a la cobarde delincuencia organizada. Continuaremos trabajando.
As one of the youngest public officials to rise to the top of Mexico City’s security apparatus, García Harfuch has been referred to “the best police officer in Mexico” by the current administration. His career has consisted of numerous high-profile investigations and arrests of members of organized crime groups (OCGs), including Dámaso López Núñez (“El Licenciado”), of the Sinaloa Cartel in 2017. During his tenure as secretary of public security beginning in June 2019, García Harfuch has continued to put pressure on organized crime, coordinating the arrests of well-known OCG leaders such as Jorge Flores (“El Tortas“) of the Anti Union (Anti Unión) and Pedro Ramírez (“El Jamón”) of the Tepito Union (Unión Tepito). Notably, García Harfuch was also largely responsible for the 2017 arrest of former governor of Veracruz Javier Duarte, who had attempted to flee serious corruption charges.
As a result of García Harfuch’s strong stance against organized crime, he has reportedly been subject to numerous threats throughout his career, including direct threats from members of the CJNG. Nonetheless, officials have noted that there is no known connection between any specific threats and the attack this morning.
The attack comes in the midst of rising levels of violence in Mexico, despite stay-at-home orders as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to El Universal, Mexico saw record numbers of homicides in April of this year, with experts calling the rising violence a “second epidemic” parallel to the rising number of COVID-19-related deaths. For more on crime and violence in Mexico during the pandemic, see Justice in Mexico’s recent blog post on public security during COVID-19.
06/25/20 (written by JHale)- In a widely circulated video online, a coffin emblazoned with a glossy image of Our Lady of Guadalupe lies adjacent to a makeshift soccer goal. A young man passes a ball so that it ricochets off the coffin and into the bottom right corner. Immediately, a group of individuals dressed in white swarms the coffin, jumping up and down and celebrating. Inside the coffin lies the body of Alexander Martínez Gómez, a 16 year old soccer player who dreamt of becoming a star before he was killed in Mexico’s most recent incident of police violence (Miranda, “Despide Multitud a Alexander”).
A troubling incident
An American citizen born in North Carolina, Gómez was visiting family in Oaxaca at the time of the shooting (“Mexico Police Officer Investigated”). Gómez split his time between the two countries, but hoped to move to Mexico permanently to become a professional soccer player. This dream would come to an end on the night of June 9th, when he was killed by police. The incident occurred as Gómez and a friend were riding motorbikes to a local store when, according to official reports, a police car with its lights off stopped ahead of the duo and blocked the road. An officer exited the vehicle and opened fire without warning. Alexander was killed, while his companion lost control of his motorbike and was injured (Miranda, “Dan Prisión Preventiva”).
The incident prompted a swift reaction from multiple parties. Gómez’s mother released a video to social media denouncing the police and asserting that her son had been denied first aid after the shooting. The town of Acatlán de Pérez Figueroa, where Gómez was killed, issued a statement expressing that the officer’s actions were not in bad faith (Agren). Nonetheless, the Attorney General of the State of Oaxaca (Fiscalía General del Estado de Oaxaca, FGEO) secured a judge’s approval to preemptively detain Alexander’s accused killer. Furthermore, prosecutors told reporters that the accused officer would be charged to the full extent of the law (Miranda, “Dan Prisión Preventiva”).
An uncertain road forward
As outraged locals demanded justice, officials hurried to provide solutions. The Secretary of Public Safety of Oaxaca (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública de Oaxaca, SSPO) promised changes, including greater accountability and increased training of police. Many local residents and members of Gómez’s family have rejected the police entirely, calling for the protection of Mexico’s National Guard. The SSPO expressed understanding, even going so far as to suggest that a National Guard base would be installed in the local municipal center (Rangel). It is still unclear whether the National Guard has a plan in place to prevent the same abuses of power that have plagued local police forces.
Mexico’s police force has come under increased scrutiny after recent instances of violence against unarmed citizens. The killing of Alexander Gómez follows the death of construction worker Giovanni López in police custody after being detained for not wearing a facemask (“Giovanni López: ‘Justicia Para Giovanni’”). Both incidents have sparked protests, riots, and challenging conversations surrounding the role of police in enforcing justice in Mexico. It remains to be seen whether outrage over police brutality will lead to concrete changes in law enforcement practices.
06/16/20 (M MacGregor)- According to a survey by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía), or“INEGI”, 7 out of 10 women in Mexico have experienced violence at some point in their lives, and among those, almost half (43.9%) of women were abused by their boyfriend, husband, or partner. Additionally, according to INEGI, the states with the highest levels of domestic violence are the State of Mexico, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, and Queretaro. Domestic violence is defined by the United Nationsas a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain control over an intimate partner and encompasses physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological threats that influence another person. At the international and regional level, Mexico is part of various agreements that share the goal of eradicating violence against women. Some of these include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW 1979), the InterAmerican Commission of Women, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). Despite the country’s membership in these agreements, the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown the weaknesses in the Mexican government in protecting women from domestic violence and ensuring their safety.
Domestic Violence During COVID
According to Reuters, since the COVID-19 lockdown, women in Mexico have been fighting “another shadow pandemic”. There has been “an increase in reports of domestic violence, many of those psychological violence”, according to Blanca Aquino, director of the Municipal Institute for Women of Veracruz. Similarly, Maria Noel Baeza, the regional director for UN Women, believes that the lockdown is exacerbating violence against women by forcing them to stay in situations of confinement in which [women] are locked up with their abusers and have very limited outlets to escape violence.
Before social distancing was implemented in the country, Expansión Políticareported that the Mexican emergency number registered 21,727 domestic violencerelated calls during the month of February. According to El Universal, three weeks after the stay at home orders were issued, Mexican federal authorities estimated that violence against women had increased between 30 and 100%. Almost two months after the first case of COVID-19 in Mexico, the National Network of Shelters (la Red Nacional de Refugios) observed an “increase of 5% in women’s admissions [to the shelters] and an increase of 60% in guidance via telephone calls, social networks, and email”. Additionally, women’s centers linked to the network are at “80% to 110% of their capacity, especially in entities such as Guanajuato, the State of Mexico, and Chiapas”. These cases of violence against women are expected to persist as the pandemic continues, as human rights specialists in an article by El Sol de Mexico are predicting domestic violence to grow by 92% during the quarantine period.
At the national level, many lawyers and human rights activists have criticized the problematic remarks of current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as well as the Mexican government’s failure to release a comprehensive plan to tackle the spike in domestic abuse amid the COVID-19 emergency. According to Latino USA, AMLO stated in a press conference in May 2020 that “violence against women has not increased since the national lockdown” and that “there has been no increase in complaints from women”, despite statistical reports indicating otherwise. Jacqui Hunt, director of Equality Now, a non-governmental organization that aims to promote the rights of women and girls globally, told Independent, “the appalling increase in the number of women murdered and abused in Mexico since the start of 2020 should be seized upon as a watershed moment in which the government finally steps up to address the root causes of harm against women”. Hunt called for the Mexican government to “work closely alongside organizations which help women and girls and provide additional funding to make sure those locked up with their abusers can access safe housing and other specialist support”, as statistics collected by El Sol de Mexico estimate that “two-thirds of the female population in the country over the age of 15 will quarantine alongside a violent partner”.
A gender perspective to combat COVID-19
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres called for measures to address a “shocking global upsurge in domestic violence against women and girls”, stating that “together, [the international community] can and will prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes”. United Nations Women in particular has made a number of recommendations to the Mexican authorities in order to alleviate the conditions that women and girls have experienced during the lockdown. Some of these recommendations include:
Raising awareness of the increased burden on female staff for extra care tasks against COVID-19.
Helping employers take into account the risks that their employees displacement will have, as well as ensuring their payments during the quarantine.
Protecting the workforce in manufacturing companies (maquiladoras) economically and through labor protection measures since women make up a large part of the workforce.
Procuring strategies to protect those affected by the sexual division of labor in areas such as education, social work, which are mostly composed of women.
“No estás sola, seguimos contigo” and “#ContingenciaSinViolencia”
On April 7th, the Mexican government in conjunction with the Citizens’ Council (Consejo Ciudadano) and the Women’s Secretariat (Secretaria de las Mujeres) launched the “No estas sola, seguimos contigo” (“You’re not alone, we are still with you”) initiative to address domestic violence during the quarantine. This program consists of several resources to help women report domestic violence and seek professional help. The resources include chat rooms in which victims can send video, audio, and photos, channels to Moon Centers, or Centro Lunas, which provide psychological and legal care for medium and high risk cases.
In addition, the government and the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women (CONAVIM) created a directory to publicize these resources as well as the National Shelter Network so that women can access safe spaces away from their abusers. The hashtag, #ContingencyWithoutViolence, or #ContingenciaSinViolencia was launched by the State of Mexico and has spread on social networks throughout the country. Despite these efforts to address violence against women, the National Shelter Network is lacking the budget and the space to operate effectively and this leads them to deal with double or triple contigency. Milenio reports that several organizations have argued that the “delay in the allocation of financial resources violates the shelters’ operation and rights of women to safety”. Wendy Figueroa, the director of the National Shelter Network, has demanded that the Mexican government “establish a budget, as well as evaluation and monitoring mechanisms that guarantee the permanent flow of resources allowing the shelters to work through the year without impediment”.
In conclusion, it is clear that COVID-19 has exacerbated the effects of domestic violence in Mexico, a country that already suffers from staggering statistics due to the normalization of gender based violence. The implications of the lockdown are widening gender inequalities and increasing violence against women. In order to address this crisis, the Mexican government must strengthen all mechanisms to combat domestic violence at the local, regional and national levels. Steps must be taken immediately because women’s lives depend on it.
Domestic Violence Resources
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
06/12/20 (T McGinnis) – 2019 represented the most dangerous year on record for women in Mexico, according to Mexico’s Secretary General of National Public Security (SESNSP). Femicide, a crime that deprives a woman of life as a result of her being female, remains a long-standing and protracted issue with which the Mexican public, policymakers, and legal actors have struggled. With the López Obrador administration declaring an “end to the war” against drug cartels and trafficking, the question remains whether this proclamation will lead to more adequate responses regarding gender violence, responses in which answers and accountability stand at the forefront of the government’s plan of action.
What the Available Data Suggests
The Secretary General of National Public Security (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SESNSP) reports that between 2015 and 2019, cases of femicide rose from 411 to 983, representing an increase of approximately 139%, as shown by the graphic on the right. This parallels, if not surpasses, Mexico’s broader trend of recorded record-high numbers of murders in 2019. According to Milenio, in January alone of this year, 320 women were murdered (247 victims of intentional homicide and 73 victims of femicide), making an average of 10 cases per day.
However, the aforementioned figures may be much higher when one accounts for shortcomings and biases in the collection and conceptualization of femicide data. For example, Mexico’s elevated levels of impunity compound this issue further. According to the Center of Strategic & International Studies and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía), “93 percent of crimes were either not reported or not investigated in 2018.” Furthermore, the Congressional Research Service details that the prosecutor general’s office remains underfunded. As specified by the GII-2017 Global Impunity Index (Índice Global de Impunidad), this means that preventive actions with respect to intelligence and the preparation and integration of information into investigative files (carpetas de investigación) remain stifled and ineffective. Thus, the perpetrators of violence are further motivated by the unlikelihood of conviction. With stark gender inequalities and pervasiveness of machismo culture in Mexico, one observes reduced levels of priority for investigations of gender-based murders. When observing the legal context of femicide, penal codes on femicide can vary by state, resulting in “a lack of comparable data and agreed definitions” that make prosecuting cases more difficult. Frequently, for both genders, victims of violence are battered and further discriminated against when trying to access the justice system. For women, the motivation to seek legal recourse or help diminishes significantly, seeing that “77 percent of Mexican women report not feeling safe.” These shortcomings and biases reflected in the available data will become more evident when the legal aspects of femicide are explained in greater detail.
High-Profile Cases in 2020
Mexico has grappled with the issue of gender-based violence and more specifically, femicide for many years, which became a major concern in the early 2000s with the high-profile serial murders of women in Ciudad Juárez. However, recent statistics indicating a nation-wide increase in femicides, as well as three high-profile cases in the first few months of 2020, led to protests and major demonstrations condemning violence against women. The first of the three cases involved Isabel Cabanillas, a 26-year-old artist and feminist who was murdered in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua on January 18, 2020 while riding her bike. According to NBC, although the dimension of the Mexican federal government tasked with combating violence against women, INMUJERES, classified her death as a femicide, law enforcement authorities described the motive as unclear. This elucidates one of the most apparent issues with the legal category of femicide. In order to classify a crime as femicide, there have to be qualifying characteristics and motives working in tandem with the act of homicide. Some of these characteristics and motives may be clear upon the start of an investigation, while others may not become evident until the case is adjudged. Weeks later, 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla was murdered by her male partner in northern Mexico City. According to Al Jazeera, her remains were discovered on Sunday, February 9, 2020 with certain organs removed and portions of her body skinned. The next day, the national newspaper Pasala published images of her body, sparking further outrage in the public and an overall repudiation of the way in which the government handles the dissemination of information on femicides. In an El Universal column entitled “Who killed Ingrid Escamilla?”, Alejandro Hope, a political science professor, presents his answer. “A violent and machismo culture killed Ingrid, our indifference killed her, our failure to demand that things change killed her.” The third case involved the murder of 7-year-old Fatima Cecelia Aldrighett Anton, who went missing on February 11, 2020 in Santiago Tulyehualco, Xochimilco. According to El Universal, she was believed to have been abducted at school, where she was left outside and unsupervised as she waited for her mother. Her naked body was discovered on February 15, 2020 in a plastic bag near Los Reyes, Tlahuac.
2020 Protests (International Women’s Day and “A Day Without Us”)
Each of the aforementioned cases resulted in protesters urging president Lopez Obrador to publicly acknowledge his administration’s lack of strategy in protecting the female population, and calls to stop criminalizing women who are victims of femicide. Following International Women’s Day (Mar. 8th), in which 80,000 individuals marched through Mexico City, displaying banners that stated “I’m marching today so that I don’t die tomorrow,” tens of thousands of women furthered the sentiment by participating in a national strike. What was soon deemed “A Day Without Us” strove to demonstrate what life would be like without women as more and more fall victim to femicide every day.
In November 2019, Mexican officials had vowed a “zero tolerance” approach to the problem, as they observed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in partnership with the United Nations. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the government has also made a point of emphasizing the existing measures in place, such as gender sensitivity training for armed forces. Additionally, after Escamilla’s murder, president Lopez Obrador joined protesters in denouncing the behavior of the media in leaking the explicit photos and soon praised their efforts in passing a bill that would increase prison sentences for those who commit femicide.
However, although lauded as a socially-progressive leader for perhaps, some of the reasons explained above, The Center for Strategic and International Studies regards president Lopez Obrador’s response to the issue of femicide and more generally gender-violence as “tepid at best.” Critics and activists note that AMLO appears indifferent to the reality of the situation and gendered context, calling himself a “humanist” and not a feminist. In reaction to the March 9th strike, he accused political opponents for the situation of unrest. Furthermore, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, his administration faced backlash when the Attorney General suggested removing femicide from Mexico’s criminal code, even though AMLO later said that he did not support the change. Claiming that the media manipulates the issues surrounding gender-based violence, the CFR reports that president Lopez Obrador also claims that the current crisis remains “tied to his predecessors neoliberal economic policies” and believes that what the country needs is a “moral regeneration.” Moving forward, it remains to be seen whether his public pledges translate into concrete action.
A Deeper Look into the Legal Context of Femicide in Mexico
As the surfacing of the aforementioned data and high-profile cases sheds a greater light on this national epidemic and mobilizes the public to place considerable pressure on Mexican officials, it remains critically important to understand the legal context of femicide in Mexico and how its process of prosecution could affect the data, media, rate of occurrence, etc. Prior to 1992, the term “femicide” had been used by the media and greater society in a colloquial manner to indicate the death of a woman. According to the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission of Women, that same year, Diana Russell and her colleague Jill Radford redefined femicide as “the murder of women, committed by men, for the simple reason of their being women.” In elucidating the gendered motives of men in killing women, which include “attempts to control their lives, their bodies and/or their sexuality, to the point of punishing through death those women that do not accept that submission,” Russell and Radford provided both legal and social contexts to the concept of femicide.
According to El Universal, the concept garnered significant notoriety in Mexico when Marcela Lagarde took the aforementioned notion of femicide advanced by Russell and Radford and further developed it as “feminicidio,” rather than femicidio (which constitutes the literal translation). The OAS Declaration on Femicide reports that “Lagarde’s position was that femicide could be understood as the death of women without specifying the cause, whereas feminicide better encapsulated the gender-based reasons and the social construction behind these deaths, as well as the impunity that surrounds them.” She subsequently used the term feminicide (feminicidio) to analyze a wave of gender-motivated murders in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, which started around 1993, and continued to substantiate its importance in her professional research.
Before the classification of femicide as a social construct and category of crime, many of these murders were wrongly labeled as “crimes of passion.” According to El Universal, crimes of passion are defined as “a crime committed because of very strong emotional feelings, especially in connection with a sexual relationship.” The same term has also frequently been used to describe violent crimes against LGBT persons. However, once the term “femicide” was coined and the phenomenon was further explained and adopted by the media and public, different facets of the Mexican state began to grasp the gender-based implications of this type of violence against women. Nevertheless, bias and sexism still permeate media reporting of violent crimes against women. For example, “after Ingrid Escamilla was murdered by her partner in early 2020, a newspaper titled the article ‘It was cupid’s fault’ and printed a photograph of her skinned and dismembered body on its cover.” While femicides often occur between romantic partners, it should not constitute the defining aspect of this phenomenon. As previously elucidated by anthropologist Marcela Lagarde, “the explanation of femicide lies in gender dominance: characterized by both the male supremacy and the oppression, discrimination, exploitation and, above all, social exclusion of girls and women.”
The crime of femicide is committed by a person who deprives a woman of life for reasons of gender. It is considered that there are gender reasons when any of the following circumstances occur:
The victim presents signs of sexual violence of any kind;
Inflammatory or degrading injuries or mutilations, before or after the deprivation of life or acts of necrophilia, have been inflicted on the victim;
There are antecedents or data of any type of violence in the family, work or school environment of the perpetrator against the victim;
There has been a sentimental, emotional or trust relationship between the asset and the victim;
There are data that establish that there were threats related to the criminal act, harassment or injuries of the perpetrator against the victim;
The victim has been held incommunicado, whatever the time prior to the deprivation of life;
The victim’s body is exposed or displayed in a public place.
Anyone who commits the crime of femicide will be sentenced to forty to sixty years in prison and a fine of five hundred to one thousand days.
In addition to the sanctions described in this article, the perpetrator will lose all rights in relation to the victim, including those of a successional nature.
In the event that femicide is not accredited, the homicide rules will apply.
A public servant who maliciously or negligently delays or hinders the prosecution or administration of justice shall be sentenced to three to eight years and a fine of five to fifteen hundred days, and shall be removed and disqualified from three to ten years to perform another public employment, office or commission.
In Nexos magazine, Elizabeth V. Leyva notes that although a fair majority of Mexican federal entities adhere to the federal norm as outlined above, “the truth is that legal classification of femicide is not the same in all laws: each state recognizes this problem with various characteristics with which it can be identified.” As a federal republic with the current criminal law system, states (32 in total) can individually regulate crimes and classify them as they deem appropriate. Thus, it is critically important to analyze and detail the similarities and differences in the classifications of these penal codes in an effort to elucidate whether certain legal provisions impact the number/level of femicides in each respective state.
It is important to understand how the Mexican Federal Penal Code on femicide parallels or differs from legislation at the state level. Firstly, both federal and state penal codes define femicide as a crime that deprives a woman of life for reasons of gender. Because this definition is potentially problematic (“gender” is not the same as a female person), Leyva describes current legislation having an “androcentric” view that disregards the death of a woman occurring as a result of her being female. As a result, critics point out that the legal definition of femicide is flawed by a male-dominant perspective and can lead to an ineffective understanding and enforcement of the law.
The essential qualifying circumstances for femicide are described in the penal codes as “gender reasons,” which can be divided into two categories: 1) The various forms the act of violence can assume and 2) the types of acts that occur before or after the death of the woman. The first category includes the following circumstances:
1.The victim presents signs of sexual violence of any kind
Circumstance one describes that femicide can occur through a nonconsensual sexual act aimed at the subordination and domination of women. Observing trends more generally, according to UN Women, “1 in 3 women over 15 years of age has suffered sexual violence” in Latin America and parts of the Caribbean, which is categorized as an epidemic by the WHO. Additionally, UN Women states that “femicide and sexual violence are closely linked to deficient citizen security, to general impunity and to a macho culture that undervalues women,” all of which are pervasive in the state of Mexico.
5. There are data that establish that there were threats related to the criminal act, harassment or injuries of the perpetrator against the victim
Circumstance five establishes that femicide is not an isolated act that happens without prior signs, but also the result of continuous acts of violence against the victim by the perpetrator. In other words, the perpetrator of a femicide is someone that has sexually or violently abused the victim prior to the murder. A 2019 National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía) report based on data from Chihuahua details that “43.3% of women have faced assaults from the current or last husband or partner throughout their relationship.” Critics highlight that the Mexican state has been negligent in stopping these chains of attacks before they result in the deaths of women.
2. Inflammatory or degrading injuries or mutilations, before or after the deprivation of life or acts of necrophilia have been inflicted on the victim
Circumstance two discusses the physical characteristics of the violent acts, which include scratches, bruises, cuts, stab wounds, or gunshot wounds, etc. With this reason, one can observe certain ambiguities with respect to operationalizing “inflammatory” or “degrading.” In essence, these injuries and mutilations are expected to be either of the aforementioned designations without having an explicit definition and/or reference point to classify them as such. This could contribute to an ineffective understanding and enforcement of this portion of the law.
The second category of gender reasons encompasses the types of acts that occur before or after the death of the woman.
6. The victim has been held incommunicado, whatever the time prior to the deprivation of life
Circumstance six states that during this crime, women may not be in a position to communicate or request third-party help, leaving them rather defenseless. Leyva notes that “the temporal nature of this sentence is ambiguous because it does not define how long ‘the time prior to the deprivation of life’” actually is. With this, one observes states, like Colima and Sinaloa expanding this notion in a more concise manner, isolating what they are actually attempting to legislate:
When the victim has found herself in a state of defenselessness, this should be understood as the situation of real helplessness or incapacity that makes her defense impossible. Either due to the difficulty of communication to receive help, due to the distance to an inhabited place or because there is some physical or material impediment to request help.
7. The victim’s body is exposed or exhibited in a public place
According to Leyva, though this may appear circumstantial to the crime of femicide, it possesses a powerful significance. In her text Women and the Public Sphere: A Modern Perspective, Joan Landes, a professor of Women’s Studies and History at Pennsylvania State University, postulates that women were denied status as a political subject when conceptions and definitions of political subjectivity, and more generally, politics were shaped in the pre-modern era. As actors in the private sphere, their treatment and struggle for human rights was, and still is, made invisible. With women now occupying positions in the labor market and public sphere, men often confuse female liberation as an intrusion of sorts with respect to previously solidified gender roles. Thus, when men commit femicide and display the body in the public arena, they are sending a psychological message for women to stay home. This aspect of femicide is often made worse when the public and political actors blame the victim for walking home alone or not being home as the patriarchal narrative expects.
Once convicted of committing femicide, punishments vary decidedly between states. In comparing the penal codes, the minimum sentence for femicide is 20 years in prison, while the maximum constitutes 70 years. Additionally, beyond the previously discussed, basic components observed in the entities’ penal codes, certain states present interesting additions and considerations worth noting. For example, in Jalisco, the penal code accounts for a variant of femicide known as “lesbofeminicidio” (the murder of a woman because she loves/loved another woman) and “transfeminicidio” (the murder of because she is a transgender or transsexual woman) by including the circumstance of “when the perpetrator acts for reasons of homophobia.” These variants are not popular in other states’ penal codes due to their lack of exposure in the media. In Puebla, one of the additional circumstances constituting a gender reason is “if the victim is pregnant.” This circumstance acknowledges that the perpetrator of the violence is often the biological father and that the crime of femicide may be committed to avoid the responsibilities of parenthood and alimony.
Many critics argue that the statutes for each state’s criminal code on femicide are not uniform, making it especially difficult for third-party groups to ensure effective, nation-wide implementation. For example, there is still no general agreement on whether the act of femicide is a separate category of crime or an aggravated form of homicide. In March and February 2020, many Mexican media outlets, like La Jornada highlighted the danger in a proposal by the Office of the Federal Attorney General (Fiscalía General de la República) to eliminate the designation of “femicide” as a crime and to treat it as an aggravated form of homicide. This would allow for easier facilitation of investigations and prosecutions, the Office of the Attorney General argued. However, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) objected, stating that the elimination of femicide as a category of crime would constitute a “setback” because of “the specificity of the content, implications, and meaning of this crime, (because) it makes invisible the essential component of hatred against women, as well as through it seeks to perpetuate the cultural patterns of subordination, inferiority, and oppression of women.”
With the aforementioned analysis on the legal context of femicide in Mexico and the possible threats to its legal standing, it is important to quantitatively determine whether certain legal provisions are responsible for lowering the rates of femicide in certain states. In acquiring this information, the Mexican government could more effectively tailor its federal policy and response to the crime.
[Para la versión en español, desplácese hacia abajo]
Justice in Mexico
stands in solidarity with the Black community and protesters who are demanding
the end of racial injustice and systemic racism. For nineteen years, Justice in
Mexico has worked to strengthen rule of law in Mexico, but there can be no justice
if the law is applied differently depending on the color of one’s skin. The rule of law is a rights-based principle under which
all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are:
publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated.
As we all bear
witness to countless, tragic scenes that show racial injustice continuing to
flourish in our country, we plainly see that too many police officers are not doing
their sworn duty to act as guardians of rule of law in our
country. Instead, law enforcement officers inflict horror and abuses on
the community they are sworn to protect. Promoting rule of law means
making sure that everyone is protected by and beholden to fair and just
application of the law. This is why the status quo is not acceptable. We
support real change to create more justice in our medical, educational,
economic and criminal justice systems for our Black community.
In his Letter from
Birmingham Jail, dated April 16, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described
scenes that continue to fill our news cycles and screens every day. “When you
have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your
black brothers and sisters with impunity…then you will understand why we find
it difficult to wait.” With urgency, we recognize that #BlackLivesMatter.
While there is still
much work to be done to understand the complex web of inequalities that
underlie the current crisis, we are sure of one thing: justice does not happen
overnight. Systemic reform, effective public policy, citizen activism, and
long-term commitment to change are all necessary steps toward a more just penal
system and a more equitable world.
As a staff and
organization, we have spent the past week identifying specific action steps
that we can take to ensure our long-term commitment to this fight. We recognize
that racism and all forms of discrimination are not unique to the United
States. As Justice in Mexico moves forward with a willingness to listen and
learn, we commit to exploring issues of institutional, systemic discrimination in
Mexico, and its impact on the rule of law throughout Mexico. Our hope is to
bring greater public awareness to these critical human rights and rule of law
issues, to foster conversation and education, and to promote positive change.
We would also like to recognize the efforts of our partner organizations
whose research and training initiatives seek to identify and rectify systemic
inequalities in our justice systems. Especially in the context of growing
opposition to progressive change, these organizations have remained clear-eyed
in their vision of equal access to justice and universal respect for human
rights. We thank them and all those who support this mission, and we call upon
them to remain steadfast in their work as we face the current crisis. Please
visit their websites below for more information on these program’s initiatives:
In addition, we would like to take this opportunity to provide our supporters with a list of anti-racist resources. These resources have been hand-selected by our team in order to promote dialogue regarding systemic forms of discrimination and oppression. We have also provided a list of relevant organizations that are accepting donations:
What can I do?
Learn more about the
Black Lives Matter movement and its organization, click here.
Thank you for your support as we continue to work toward improving
citizen security, strengthening the rule of law, and protecting human rights in
Mexico. We welcome your comments and suggestions as we redouble our efforts in
the fight against racism and all forms of systemic oppression.
The Justice in Mexico team
David A. Shirk, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, Janice Deaton, Ashley Ahrens-Víquez, Laura Y. Calderón, Rita E. Kuckertz, Teagan McGinnis, Mauricio Villaseñor Herrera
Versión en español
El programa Justice in Mexico se solidariza con la comunidad
Afrodescendiente y los manifestantes que están exigiendo poner un alto a la
injusticia racial y al racismo sistémico. Por diecinueve años, Justice in
Mexico ha trabajado para fortalecer el estado de derecho en México. Sin
embargo, reconocemos que no puede haber justicia si el derecho se aplica de manera
diferente dependiendo del color de piel de las personas. El estado de derecho
es un principio basado en los derechos, bajo el cual, todas las personas,
instituciones y entidades son responsables de rendir cuentas ante leyes que
son: públicamente promulgadas, aplicadas de forma igualitaria, e
Siendo testigos de innumerables escenas trágicas que demuestran que la
injusticia racial continúa floreciendo en nuestro país, claramente vemos que
demasiados oficiales de policía no cumplen
con su deber jurado de actuar como guardianes del estado de derecho en nuestro
país. Por el contrario, los oficiales encargados de la aplicación de la ley
infligen horror y abusos sobre la comunidad que han jurado proteger. Promover
el estado de derecho significa asegurarse de que todos están protegidos y
sujetos a la aplicación justa y debida de la ley. Por esta razón, el status quo es inaceptable. Apoyamos un
cambio real para crear mayor justicia para nuestra comunidad Afrodescendiente
dentro de nuestros sistemas médico, educativo, económico y penal.
En su Carta desde la
cárcel de Birmingham, con fecha del 16 de abril de 1963, el Reverendo Martin
Luther King Jr. describe escenas que continúan llenando nuestros noticieros y
pantallas todos los días. “Cuando veas policías llenos de odio maldecir,
patear, brutalizar, e incluso asesinar con impunidad a tus hermanos y hermanas
afrodescendientes… Entonces entenderás por qué nos resulta difícil esperar.” Con urgencia reconocemos que #BlackLivesMatter(las vidas Afrodescendientes importan).
Aun cuando queda mucho trabajo por hacer para entender la compleja red de
desigualdad que sustenta la crisis actual, estamos seguros de una cosa: la
justicia no se hace de la noche a la mañana. Una reforma sistémica, políticas
públicas efectivas, activismo ciudadano y el compromiso a largo plazo de crear
un cambio, son todos pasos necesarios para un sistema penal más justo y un
mundo más equitativo.
Como equipo de trabajo y organización, hemos invertido la semana pasada
identificando medidas de acción específicas para asegurar nuestro compromiso a
largo plazo con esta causa. Reconocemos que el racismo y todas las formas de
discriminación no son exclusivas de los Estados Unidos. Conforme Justice in
Mexico avanza hacia la plena disposición de escuchar activamente y aprender,
nos comprometemos a explorar los problemas de discriminación institucional y
sistémica en México, así como su impacto en el estado de derecho a nivel
nacional. Nuestra esperanza es crear mayor concientización ante estos graves
problemas de derechos humanos y estado de derecho, para fomentar la
conversación y educación, y promover el cambio positivo.
También nos gustaría reconocer los esfuerzos
de nuestras organizaciones asociadas, cuyas investigaciones e iniciativas de
capacitación buscan identificar y rectificar las desigualdades sistémicas en
nuestros sistemas de justicia. En especial en el contexto de una incipiente
oposición al cambio progresivo, estas organizaciones han mantenido una visión
clara respecto al acceso igualitario a la justicia y al respeto universal de
los derechos humanos. Les agradecemos a ellos y a todos los que apoyan esta
misión, y les hacemos un llamado a mantenerse inquebrantables en su trabajo mientras
enfrentamos la crisis actual. Por favor visite sus sitios web incluidos abajo
para más información sobre las iniciativas de dichos programas:
Además, nos gustaría aprovechar esta oportunidad para proveer a nuestros colaboradores con una lista de recursos anti-racismo. Estos recursos han sido seleccionados individualmente por nuestro equipo para promover el diálogo sobre formas sistémicas de discriminación y opresión. También incluimos una lista de organizaciones relevantes que están aceptando donativos:
¿Qué puedo hacer?
Aprenda más sobre el movimiento y organización Black Lives Matter, presione aquí.
Considere alguna de las siguientes organizaciones para donar, si le es posible: NAACP (Asociación Nacional para el Progreso de Personas de Color) Black Lives Matter The Bail Project (Proyecto de la Liberación Bajo Fianza) Presione aquí para información adicional sobre otras organizaciones relacionadas a la liberación bajo fianza.
Edúquese sobre los problemas inminentes. Considere
algunos de estos recursos:
Brooklyn Library BLM Reading List (Lista de Lectura
Recomendada por la Biblioteca de Brooklyn. Esta lista fue creada por un
bibliotecario o bibliotecaria de la Biblioteca Pública de Brooklyn. Los libros
en esta lista discuten Black Lives Matter,
brutalidad policiaca, y anti-racismo.)
Muchas gracias por su apoyo mientras
continuamos trabajando para mejorar la seguridad ciudadana, fortalecer el
estado de derecho, y proteger los derechos humanos en México. Agradecemos sus
comentarios y sugerencias mientras redoblamos nuestros esfuerzos en la lucha
contra el racismo y todas las formas de opresión sistémica.
El equipo de Justice in Mexico
David A. Shirk, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, Janice Deaton, Ashley Ahrens-Víquez, Laura Y. Calderón, Rita E. Kuckertz, Teagan McGinnis, Mauricio Villaseñor Herrera