Mexico: Government Fails to Protect Women from Rising Violence
Friday, March 14, 2014 4:20 PM

Violence against women has risen dramatically in Mexico since the Mexican government began taking aggressive military action against drug cartels in 2006. According to official data, between 2007 and 2012 the number of women killed in Mexico increased by 155 percent. More than 4000 women disappeared between 2011 to 2012, mostly around Mexico City and in the state of Chihuahua, with many women trafficked for prostitution by drug cartels according to the National Observatory Against Femicide. U.N. Women Mexico representative Ana Guezmez recently stated, "[v]iolence against women isn't an epidemic, it's a pandemic in Mexico.”

Widespread violations of women’s human rights are most prevalent in areas impacted by conflict with heavily armed drug gangs. Conditions in these regions have been compared to civil war zones where women become targets of increasingly brutal violence by gang members competing over territory. Weak state institutions, widespread impunity for perpetrators and lawlessness also increase the vulnerability of women in Mexico to violence, particularly along the U.S. border and in major cities. Victims and their families report less than eight percent of violent crimes or abuse, and few of these are formally investigated or prosecuted.

New legislation approved by Mexican lawmakers in 2007 that was intended to stem the tide of violence against women has done little to make women safer. Much of the law has yet to be implemented or enforced, including enhanced protections for domestic violence victims. President Enrique Pena Nieto recently vowed to make the law more effective, but the outlook is uncertain given a corrupt and weak judiciary and the lack of domestic political pressure to deal with the issue.

Compiled from: Mexico Urged to Aggressively Prosecute Crimes Against Women, Hispanic Speaking News (March 4, 2014); Rama, Anahi and Diaz, Lizbeth, Violence Against Women 'Pandemic' in Mexico, Chicago Tribune (March 7, 2014)