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gender violence

For Mexico City women, trying to report attempted femicide can be a battle

Prosecutors blamed one woman for getting attacked

Surviving an attempt on their lives was just the beginning of the struggles three Mexico City women endured.

The newspaper Reforma spoke with three victims of attempted femicide who went to the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) to report the crimes.

Only one of the women was initially successful in getting prosecutors to classify the crime as attempted femicide, but her aggressor was not convicted.

One of the women who failed to convince the FGJ that an attempt had been made on her life was Diana. When she reported that her partner had attempted to kill her she was told that classifying the crime as attempted femicide wasn’t possible because none of her stab wounds measured more than 15 centimeters.

Diana condemned authorities’ lack of empathy and capacity to do their job.

“The authorities aren’t qualified or trained in gender perspectives and they’re quite indifferent to different situations [women encounter],” she said.

“… A lot is said about victims of femicide, which is [a] terrible [crime], but we also count because we were on the verge of being dead,” she said.

“We’re the ones who can testify; we’re here, we’re present,” said Diana, who was sexually, physically and psychologically abused by her partner.

She said the FGJ treated her as if she was the perpetrator, rather than victim, of a crime, telling Reforma that she felt like she had to explain why she didn’t end the relationship before the attempt on her life occurred.

Diana also said that scheduled interviews with her “key witness” were canceled eight times. Despite the difficulties she faced, Diana persisted in her quest for justice and, with the help of organizations such as the National Femicide Observatory, was able to pressure the FGJ sufficiently to get it to reclassify the crime to attempted femicide.

Another woman, Dafne, had a similar experience. She was the victim of a knife attack perpetrated by her partner but was initially told that her wounds weren’t serious enough for him to be accused of femicide.

Dafne said she was re-victimized by the FGJ and that its prosecutors told her children that she was to blame for the attack she suffered.

Although prosecutors said her wounds weren’t serious it was later proven that the knife reached her vital organs, she said.

After what Reforma described as an “exhausting battle,” Dafne succeeded in getting the FGJ to reclassify the crime as an attempted femicide due to a wound inflicted to the back of her neck. The crime was initially classed as domestic violence and wasn’t reclassified until a year later.

Fabiola, the third woman who spoke with newspaper, survived a strangling attack perpetrated by her partner. “… My partner wanted to take my breath away with his hands,” she said.

The crime was classified as attempted femicide by the FGJ but the attacker evaded justice.

“They let my aggressor free without telling me and knowing that my life was in danger,” Fabiola said, adding that nothing was done to protect her from another attack.

“This person remains free because he’s legally protected. For the authorities we [female victims] don’t exist,” she said.

“They have a certain indifference and it’s as if they don’t want to look at [cases of] attempted femicide,” Fabiola said, adding that the FGJ portrayed the crime of attempted suffocation as something minor from which a person can recover in 15 seconds.

Fabiola said the attack also upended her professional life.

“Now nothing’s left of the life I had built for myself. At almost 40 years old I was a successful architect with my own office and people of whom I was in charge,” she said.

“… I looked for justice and inevitably the people [I worked with] found out what happened. [Then] your employees stop obeying you and your clients don’t ask you to work for them anymore,” Fabiola said.

She also said she has been left with a feeling of guilt, explaining that she was made to feel that she failed in her personal life.

All three women agreed that the authorities have little interest in hearing about violence against women in cases in which the victims didn’t die, and asserted that the government wants to believe that the intention of the aggressors in such cases was not to kill them – despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

With reports from Reforma 

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