Activists Criticize Mexico's Response to Violence Against Women in Juarez and Mexico State
Monday, August 17, 2009 11:43 AM

Since 1993, over 400 women have been murdered in Juarez, Mexico, and hundreds more have disappeared, according to Women’s eNews. Many of the victims were sexually assaulted before being killed.  The crimes have been largely unsolved, a fact that has drawn international criticism in recent years.  Another wave of violence targeting women in Mexico has alarmed women’s rights activists.  In Mexico State, over 650 women have been murdered since 2005 – many at the hands of husbands or other relatives. 

In the face of this violence, and the failure of law enforcement to solve the crimes, the federal government passed a domestic violence law in 2007 and created a national anti-violence commission to focus on ending femicide in Mexico. Additionally, the government appointed a special prosecutor to deal with violent crimes against women. 

Maricela Contreras, head of Mexico’s Congressional gender equality committee, says that the actions taken by the government to curb domestic abuse and femicide are “ineffective.”  According to women’s human rights activists, less than half of Mexico’s states have enacted the 2007 domestic violence law.  Activists also criticize the national commission because it is an extension of the local commission in Juarez which failed to prosecute perpetrators of femicide there. According to Amnesty International, the power of the commission is limited, as one member said she was denied access to the relevant case files. In addition, Amnesty International reports the special prosecutor does not have the jurisdiction to “officially” investigate cases, indicating that the special prosecutor may have little power to effect change.

Compiled from: Nacha Cattan, “Mexican Women Activists Put Reforms Under the Gun,” Women’s News (10 August 2009); “Mexico: Justice Fails in Ciudad Juarez and the City of Chihuahua,” Amnesty International (28 February 2005).