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Women aren't objects

The purchase of women to join them in marriage is an ancient “tradition” in Guerrero but one that violates the rights of the women involved
Young women walking down the street - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
12/12/2017
08:56
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Poverty is a phenomenon which consumes the life of millions of Mexicans every day. Several hot topics are associated with this issue, such as immigration, health problems, malnutrition, low education levels, and lack of social mobility. Given this context, several regions in the country have found in selling people a solution to the scarcity in their homes.

Like EL UNIVERSAL publishes today, in the poorest areas of Guerrero underage girls are sold and purchased for marriage purposes without their consent. In the last 17 years, close to 300 women have been married under these circumstances, forced by their parents, whose main interest is to obtain an economic benefit in exchange of joining their daughters with those willing to pay for them.

This is a tradition which hasn't been eradicated despite the efforts of local authorities. While it is true several initiatives have been launched to end this practice, force of habit has prevailed and local governments have recognized their inability to quantify the number of cases which still take place.

The purchase of women to join them in marriage is an ancient “tradition” in Guerrero but one that violates basic legal concepts and the rights of the women involved. Human trafficking is the real crime being committed here yet communities resist facing it because they don't perceive it as a problem.

When a woman is bought by the family of her future husband, she becomes part of his property and he has a right to her. Through the agreement of the families and the approval of the community, these women are stripped from the basic human right any person must have: the freedom to choose their life and destiny. What future can a society have in which such a thing is acceptable?

When social agreement allows some of its members to be treated as objects, they limit their own development opportunities; thus, they head towards the oppression and abuse of others. The customs of the communities, the weakness of the authorities, the approval of the families, and poverty aren't reasons enough to justify the violation of women's rights.

In Mexico, there is a long road to ahead to ensure the human rights of women are respected. Stop seeing them as an object is the biggest challenge in the cultural reconstruction visible on the horizon. At the same time, institutions need to strengthen their mechanisms in order to allow women to empower themselves and contribute with their skills and abilities to their respective communities.

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