Violence in Mexico Women fight for their safety

Violence in Mexico: Women fight for their safety

On average, ten to eleven women are murdered in Mexico every day, and there were 3,800 in the entire year 2022, according to the latest official statistics available from the Mexican authority INEGI (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia). In total, there were around 32 thousand homicides per 126 million inhabitants.

The data also shows an increase in sexual crimes against girls, reports of domestic violence and human trafficking crimes against very young girls. As reported by the Spanish newspaper “El Pais”, in 2022 alone, 59,141 crimes were reported in which the victim was between zero and 17 years old.

Violence in Mexico Women fight for their safety.svg

Only very few cases are solved: in nine out of ten murders of women, the perpetrators are not convicted, Amnesty International reported. The human rights organization cites delays in investigations and structural gaps in law enforcement as the reasons.

Kidnapping documented by surveillance camera

In an interview with ORF, the aunt of a kidnapped and murdered girl spoke about her traumatic experiences. Fátima, seven years old, disappeared in February 2020; a surveillance camera recorded his kidnapping by a woman. Four days later, the girl's body was found – horribly beaten, describes Sonia Lopez.

Mexico crime scene

In Mexico, 81 people are killed every day – almost 30,000 people were murdered last year. Many of those left behind often spend years fighting for justice. There is a lack of protection and security, especially for women and girls.

“The authorities did not adequately search for her when she disappeared. They didn't try to find out the truth.” After the murder, two suspects were arrested – but to this day Fátima's family awaits justice, the trial and verdict are still pending.

Disappeared without a trace

Many Mexicans are in a similar situation to Fátima's family. As the New York Times reported, according to the government, more than 94,000 people are missing in Mexico; the United Nations (UN) assumes that the number of unreported cases is much higher. The experiences Lopez describes about delayed investigations match those of tens of thousands of family members: They are alone and desperately trying to find clues and follow leads — with little hope of finding the missing people alive.

Poster of a girl called Fátima

ORF kidnapped, abused and killed: so far, no verdict has been reached in the murder of seven-year-old Fátima

NGOs and women's rights activists consider that the increase in feminicides and violence against women and children is directly linked to organized crime and the failure of politicians to combat it. This is clear in Ecatepec, for example. The suburb of the metropolis of Mexico City is considered a hotbed of violence. Women report to ORF about increased aggression and insecurity, about daily attacks and assaults.

Monument in Mexico City

ORF The statue of the girl with her fist raised in Mexico City aims to make women's protest visible

Mexican journalist Brenda Martinez is one of the women in Mexico trying to raise awareness about the issue. “Femicide generally has to do with hatred towards women for the way they are killed – it has to do with extreme violence, with the exposure of their bodies, it has to do with humiliating women.”

Protests in Mexico City

There have been large-scale demonstrations across the country since 2019. “La Glorieta de las Mujeres que Luchan” – the statue of a girl with her fist raised in the middle of a roundabout in the center of Mexico City, testifies to the growing awareness in society. In 2021, activists installed an early version of the wooden memorial in a guerrilla campaign, and a year later it was replaced by a permanent statue.

Women's protests in Mexico from January 8, 2019 to January 18, 2024, according to conflict monitoring center ACLED. To play the animation, press the blue play button or move the blue circle around the timeline.

Now the fighting girl is at the center of protests: on International Women's Day, in March, and on the International Day against Violence against Women, in November – demonstrations for greater safety and protection continue to form around the statue. “Me custon mis hermanas, no la policia” (“My sister is looking out for me, not the police”) is a slogan often heard during protests.

View of Mexico City

ORF/Alexandra Maritza Wachter Violence against women is also a daily problem in Mexico City

NGOs accuse police of violence against protesters

The accusations against the police go beyond simply turning a blind eye. As Amnesty International noted in a report, authorities are responding with excessive repression. NGOs have documented numerous attacks by state security forces against peaceful protesters, including arbitrary arrests, sexual violence, torture and illegal use of firearms.

Relatives of victims of violence, feminist groups and human rights organizations demand changes in the country – in politics and society: The problem must be identified; Only then is change possible, says the aunt of murdered seven-year-old Fátima.