06/30/11 — The Legislative Assembly of the Federal District (Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal, ALDF) recently approved reforms that focus on the prevention and punishment of femicide by further defining and criminalizing the act, which is the targeting and killing of women based on their sex. The ALDF approved the proposed reforms on June 29 with a unanimous 51-0 vote in favor of the amendments. Not only will the Penal Code (Código Penal) be addressed, but also the Law on Access of Women to a Life Free of Violence (Ley de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia). The reforms will make femicide punishable with between 20 to 60 years in prison for the assailant, with special consideration for sentencing given to multiple offence aggressors, harassment charges, scaring left on the victims, and whether or not the body was abandoned. These reforms will also establish specific protocol for handling femicide, including the creation of a carefully maintained database that will include information on unidentified victims.
According to the Citizen’s National Obseratory for Femicide (Observatorio Cuidadano Nacional del Feminicidio) quoted in Vanguardia, “This reform is the result of compromise between Inmujeres DF (Women of the Federal District), the Government of the DF (Gobierno del Distrito Federal), the Attorney General of the DF (Procuraduría General de Justicia del DF), the Commission on Femicide (Comisión de Feminicidio), the High Court of Justice of the DF (Tribunal Superior de Justicia del DF), and the work done in conjunction with civil society organizations, who on March 8 presented the reform initiative, today approved, in order to categorize femicide and establish minimum guidelines for the the effective investigation of these crimes in Mexico City.”
Femicide has been a growing problem in Mexico for years, particularly in Ciudad Juárez, but has increased recently in other locations, like the Federal District. A local radio station reports that over 200 women have been victims of femicide in the past two years in the DF alone. On June 26, Amnesty International submitted a request to the ALDF pleading that femicide be given higher priority than it has been in the past, as little has been done to pursue assailants, which creates a pattern of impunity.