Feb 24, 2011

WikiLeaks: U.S. document says violence against women in Mexico is a problem

Special post by Camila Klein and Kelly McKenzie Feb. 23, 2011

WikiLeaks disclosed a U.S. government document from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico dated March 2009 about gender violence in Mexico.
In coordination with the blog's agreement, the document is produced here in its entirety.
Statistics on the number of solved homicides are from the Mexican government.
The embassy's report reflects its staff's observations regarding the situation of violence against women in Mexico.


DE RUEHME #0661/01 0650054


R 060054Z MAR 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

¶1. Summary. Violence against women in Mexico remains a
serious problem, common not only in the highly publicized
cases of Ciudad Juarez but in a number of other states.
While the Mexican Government has made a good faith effort to
strengthen efforts to combat violence against women, these
efforts have yet to register a major impact on the problem.
To turn the page on violence against women, Mexico needs to
promote a new culture of gender respect through education and
campaigns against discrimination based on gender; it also
needs to end impunity against abusers by meting out
appropriate punishments. As problems predominantly occur at
the local level, until Mexico develops state laws addressing
violence against women at the state level and similarly
disburses funding at that level, its efforts will continue to
be significantly hampered. End Summary.

Gender Violence Continues to Claims its Victims

¶2. Ciudad Juarez often captures public and media attention
for the high numbers of female homicide victims over the last
15 years. On a positive note, though, Ciudad Juarez has made
progress on the legal side addressing this issue having
either closed or indicted suspects in over 75 percent of the
cases of femicide. Meanwhile, violence against women has
proven a nationwide problem that touches the majority of
Mexican women. According to the NGO National Citizen
Femicide Observatory, seven out of every ten women have
suffered abusive treatment at some time in their lives. This
NGO also reports that over 1,014 girls, teenagers, and women
were murdered from January 2007 through July 31, 2008; over
42 percent of whom were between 21 and 40 years old. The

Deputy Attorney General for Chihuahua, maintains that over 80
percent of the women killed in Ciudad Juarez -- outside of
narco-related violence ) were victims of domestic violence.
Most of the reported cases were registered in 13 states and
the Federal District, including Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon,
Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Mexico City, State of Mexico,
Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Tabasco and Yucatan,
demonstrating that gender violence is not confined to
specific geographic areas.

GOM Efforts a Start, But Not Enough

¶3. In February 2007, President Calderon signed into law the
General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence
which represents the government's first significant attempt
to address the problem of violence against women from more of
a comprehensive approach. The law identifies principles and
modalities consistent with equality and non-discrimination
that should serve as a foundation for women to enjoy a life
free of violence. Recognizing the uneven attention this
problem receives across the country it aims to better
coordinate the efforts of government offices at the federal,
state, and municipal level to prevent, punish and eradicate
violence against women. However, while the law defines as
crimes such offenses as psychological and physical violence
against women as well as the plundering of patrimonial goods
and money regardless of age or marital status, it does not
establish specific sentencing guidelines. As such, the law
is practically unenforceable. (Note: The Federal Law
Pertaining to the Responsibilities of Public Officials
establishes penalties for violence against women but by
definition its purview is rather circumscribed. End Note.)

¶4. Further, the law passed by the Mexican Congress in 2007
applies on the federal level when in fact almost all abuses
occur at the state level. While 24 states have already
passed their own version of the law )- and had the foresight
to include sentencing guidelines -- by October 2008, the
states don't have access to the kinds of resources made
available on a federal level. Whereas, Congress allocated
approximately $163 million to implement the law at the
federal level, there is little evidence much, if any, of that
money has trickled down to the states where the abuses are
primarily occurring. Meanwhile, as complaints of violence
against women increase, authorities note that out of every 10
women who register a complaint between 6 and 8 back out for
fear of reprisals or insufficient resources to carry their
case forward. On the prosecutorial side, Mexican legal
experts report that the number of cases successfully brought
to trial and prosecuted remain disappointing, in part because
societal attitudes continue to complicate efforts by the
prosecution to build strong cases.

¶5. The National Institute for Women (INMUJERES), a public
institution established in 2001 to foster equality between
the sexes and promote respect for and prevent violence
against women, assumes a key role in the government's efforts
to change attitudes. (Separately, each of Mexico's 31 states
plus the Federal District has its own state women's
institution.) Its campaign "Men Against Violence"
represented the government's first attempt to address the

MEXICO 00000661 002 OF 002

cultural attitudes of men in tackling the gender violence
problem. It urges men to commit themselves to healthy,
responsible and non-violent relationships, and looks to shape
men's values to discourage violence and discrimination
against women. Since its creation, INMUJERES has provided
training on gender equality to 1,560 personnel in the
Judicial Branch, held six different meetings with state and
municipal authorities to create state-level organizations
that address and attend to violence against women,
implemented a program called Model of Gender Equity for
private companies and public institutions to review their
practices and incorporate a gender perspective and is
preparing a national survey on the problem that will be
released in October 2009. INMUJERES also is working with
governmental institutions and NGOs to achieve this year's
goal of signing an agreement with the Supreme Court to
provide training to public prosecutors, since many times they
are unaware of the existence of the law, and to develop
programs to provide protection to Mexican women living abroad
that suffer violence. Representative of INMUJERES have
expressed a desire to expand bilateral cooperation with the
U.S. on official campaigns against trafficking in persons in
part by bringing in special speakers.

¶6. INMUJERES does not lack for resources. In 2009, it
received approximately $700 million to carry out programs
throughout all of Mexico. Some experts maintain, however,
that the organization is still trying to find its identity
and its sense of mission. In the meantime, it does not
appear that funds are being spent down according to some
overarching plan. Instead they are managed from Mexico City
and are not as of yet being widely disbursed at the local
level as part of an effort to address attitudes at the
grassroots level.

Civil Society Seeking Greater GOM Commitment

¶7. A number of human rights NGOs criticize the government's
efforts thus far as insufficient for dealing with the gender
violence problem and have taken up initiatives on their own
to draw greater attention to the problem of violence against
and pressure the government to do more. Last November, a
group of NGOs consisting of more than 500 members embarked
on a week-long "No More Violence Against Women" march from
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua to San Cristobal de la Casas,
Chiapas calling for an end to violence against women in
Mexico and demanding that the Federal Government resolve
pending cases, particularly those involving femicides --
gender motivated killings of women. Some activists described
this march as merely the first phase of a new, more energetic
campaign to pressure the government to take greater
initiative on this issue. NGOs also have criticized the

Gender Violence Law for not establishing specific enough
punishments for perpetrators of violence against women.
Women's rights NGOs point to in the continued high incidence
of femicides, in particular, as evidence that the GOM is not
as committed as it should be to fighting the problem.


¶8. Cultural attitudes that often times cast Mexican women as
objects to be used and discarded are deeply ingrained in
Mexican society. In fact some experts actually believe that
violence against women is on the rise, in part due to women's
advances in social, intellectual, economic and political
affairs that threaten some men who are afraid of being left
behind or pushed aside. For Mexico to turn the page on
violence against women, these attitudes must be transformed.
while Mexico has taken some initial steps toward treating the
gender violence problem by adopting a federal law and
developing a number of education campaigns, much more needs
to be done at the local level. Campaigns promoting greater
gender respect must be broadly dispersed at a grassroots
level across Mexico. Law enforcement officials, including
police, prosecutors, and judges, need to be more widely
trained in the implementation of state laws on violence
against women, provided they exist. Lastly, aggressors need
to know that they will be punished when they commit an act of
violence against women, either inside or outside the home --
something that is not immediately apparent given low
prosecution and conviction rates for violence against women.
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