A senior federal cabinet minister called Wednesday for an end to violence against girls and women in Mexico, saying that an increase in gender violence during the pandemic has shone a harsh light on the country’s historic problems with the issue.
“The current pandemic has shown us that even in a crisis situation violence doesn’t stop and tends to increase … The data shows us that undeniably Mexico is confronting a major problem of violence against women and girls,” Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero said at the presidential press conference Wednesday, which was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
From January to October, there have been 801 murders of women in Mexico. In July, the executive secretariat of the National Public Security System reported that crimes against women between January and June were up 9.2% from the same period in 2019.
Sánchez also called upon the government to take responsibility for years of systemic indifference toward crimes against women and said that Mexico has a “historic debt” to women, especially to victims of violence.
“We can no longer permit impunity, nor will we do so; the corruption and impunity are part of structural violence, and the state must take responsibility for that.”
Karla Quintana, chief of the National Search Commission, told reporters that of the 12,026 girls and women reported missing since the current administration’s term began, 8,473 have been found alive.
The two officials’ appearance was also meant to highlight Mexico’s participation in the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which started today and ends on December 10, the International Day of Human Rights.
Sánchez stressed that preventing violence against girls and women is a great challenge that impacts every area of Mexican society —at home, in the workplace and in general social interactions. She cited figures from the national statistics institute Inegi showing that six out of 10 women in Mexico have experienced some form of violence.
Eight out of 10 women are afraid of physical violence or being verbally harassed on the streets. Every day, 32 girls between 10 and 14 become mothers due to sexual assault. Even in the field of education, she said, one out of every four women has suffered violence.
“It is time to say ‘enough.’ Enough femicides, enough political gender violence toward women, enough of daily aggressions, enough of disappearances and the sexual abuse of girls and women; and let’s say ‘yes’ to equality.”
Quintana acknowledged that missing-persons cases involving women are frequently not taken seriously enough by law enforcement, despite the fact that Mexico has a nationwide law enforcement protocol for how police should treat such cases. The federal guidelines legally require authorities to open an investigation as soon as a person is reported missing.
“The disappearance of women is required to be investigated immediately as a crime; immediately, an investigative file must be opened, a crime has to be assumed,” Quintana said. “[Mexico] is the only place in the world in which a case has to be opened from the first minute.”