Mar 8, 2016

Violence against women in Mexico continues without official intervention, Amnesty International and IACHR report

Diana Washington
 in Juarez, Mexico

International Day of the Woman - March 8

Chihuahua police avoid certain regions out of fear

By Diana Washington Valdez
The Digie Zone
March 8, 2016

El Paso, TEXAS - Murders and disappearances of women continue in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and other regions of the country without an apparent strategy in place to reverse the trends, according to 2016 reports of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Amnesty International-Mexico.

Yet, years of scrutiny and condemnations by the United Nations, Amnesty International, the IACHR, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and others, have not done much to get the Mexican government to react differently to the seemingly entrenched violence.

According to the IACHR, 7,060 women were reported missing in Mexico between 2011 and April 30, 2015. The highest numbers of missing women were report in the states of Mexico (1,007) and Tamaulipas (1,170).

The IACHR report "Mexico's Human Rights Situation" also found that 90 percent of the female victims of violence in Chihuahua state are under 18 years of age.

During a presentation Tuesday, Alfredo Limas Hernandez, co-director of the Social and Gender Violence Observatory in Juarez, said that at least 112 women that were reported missing in Juarez over the past 20 years have not been found yet. Limas, a research instructor at the Autonomous University of Juarez (UACJ), has been investigating the Juarez femicides for more than a dozen years.

Here is an extract from Amnesty International's 2015/16 annual report on Mexico:

Violence against women and girls

"Violence against women and girls remained endemic, including killings, abductions and sexual violence. 

The National System for the Prevention, Sanction and Eradication of Violence against Women announced for the first time the activation of a “Gender Alert” mechanism in the state of Morelos and parts of the state of Mexico.

 The “Gender Alert” is designed to mobilize authorities to combat widespread gender-based violence and elicit an effective, official response to cases of violence.

In July, five men were handed multiple life sentences for the abduction, sexual exploitation and killing of 11 women in the U.S. border (city) Ciudad Juárez, whose remains were found in the desert surrounding the town in 2012. 

The court’s ruling recognized the endemic nature of gender-based violence in the area, and ordered new investigations for other perpetrators involved."

The convictions of the five men stem from a case involving the discovery of bodies found in shallow graves in the Valle de Juárez, at the northeastern edge of Juárez.

The judicial proceeding was and continues to be mired in controversy due to the lack of direct physical evidence linking the convicted men to the victims.

Advocates in Mexico also have complained that Mexico's new "gender alert" mechanism is not applied often enough, and that too much red tape is required for officials to use the process.

In a separate 2016 report finding, "Mexico: Gross incompetence and inertia fuel disappearances epidemic," Amnesty International said that the drug cartels were so powerful and influential that they "played a powerful role in deterring investigations."

Chihuahua cases

AI mentioned specific cases that serve to illustrate the kind of challenges that victims' families and law enforcement officers face in their efforts to pursue justice.

"The mother of 22-year-old Brenda Karina Ramírez, who was disappeared on 19 July 2011 after she was taken away by armed men from the home of relatives in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc (in Chihuahua state), has taken upon herself to look for her daughter, after authorities failed to properly investigate the tragic incident," Amnesty International reported.

"When she finally got hold of the official file of the case, she found it was nearly empty. She told Amnesty International: 'What is in my daughter’s file is what I have handed in, nothing else.'"

According to AI's report, Brenda Karina Ramírez González, 22, "was at the home of relatives in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc when someone arrived and asked for her. When she went out to see who it was, several armed men grabbed her and took her away in a van.

"Her family has heard no further news of her fate and the authorities have failed to mount an effective investigation into the case."

Some areas of Chihuahua state are so controlled by criminal elements that police won't venture into them.

"Relatives of another person who was disappeared said that members of the Chihuahua State Public Prosecutor’s Office reportedly refused to carry out an investigation in a certain part of the state, saying: “We are afraid, we cannot go there,” the human rights organization reported.

Diana Washington Valdez is the author of the nonfiction books "The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women" (English, 2006) and "La Cosecha de Mujeres" (Spanish, 2005).

Amnesty International at

Interamerican Commission on Human Rights

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