Femicide in Mexico is on the rise despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Domestic violence and femicide increased during the lockdown

Femicide in Mexico is on the rise despite the COVID-19 pandemic
Security Minister Durazo said that for authorities registered 99 femicides in June - Photo: Enrique Ordóñez/CUARTOSCURO.COM
English 21/07/2020 12:18 Mexico City Manuel Espino & Alberto Morales/EL UNIVERSAL;Mark Stevenson/AP Actualizada 12:34
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According to Security Minister Alfonso Durazo, femicides have increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly femicide rates in Mexico increased by 7.7% in 2020.

Activists and NGOs warned that the increased confinement of families to their homes would increase femicides. The government later confirmed that the gender-based crime increased from 448 in the first half of 2019 to 489 in the same period of 2020. 

Durazo said that for authorities registered 99 femicides in June, 26 more than in May.

The femicide rate registered in June is the second-highest percentage recorded since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office. 

The information released by the federal government shows that the State of Mexico is the most dangerous state for women, with 63 femicides; it is followed by Veracruz after it registered 47; Mexico City registered 37; Puebla registered 36 femicides, and Neve León registered 35.
 
The data for the first half of 2020 showed homicides increased from 1.9% to 17,982, as compared to 17,653 in the same period of 2019. 

On the other hand, some experts had hoped the lockdown caused by the novel coronavirus would limit drug trafficking and other criminal activities that cause major violence in the country; however, the Defense Ministry released an analysis saying that a disturbing video of dozens drug cartel gunmen posted online last week was indeed genuine and had received about 16 million views in a few days.

Whats is femicide?

The term femicide refers to a specific hate crime that affects girls and women and has become widely used to describe a phenomenon that has prevailed in Mexico for decades.

Femicide is defined as “the gender-based murder of a woman or girl by a man” and was coined by Diana Russell in 1976, during the First International Tribunal on Crimes against Women in Brussels.

In Mexico, the term gained notoriety when it was translated as “feminicidio” by activist Marcela Lagarde. Her translation aimed to differentiate femicide, a hate crime, from the murder of a woman, which is not sparked by misogyny. Lagarde’s translation also emphasizes the gender issue so that people would notice the sexist ideology behind femicide. The translation coined by Lagarde was essential to understand a wave of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez, which started around 1993.
 
In a broader context, femicide is just one type of violence against women. Moreover, femicide is accompanied by physical violence, sexual abuse, torture, mutilation, sexual slavery, sexual harassment, and other forms of extreme violence.

In Mexico, the majority of femicides were wrongly labeled as “crimes of passion,” which are defined as “a crime committed because of very strong emotional feelings, especially in connection with a sexual relationship.” But once the phenomenon of femicide was explained and the term was coined, activists, authorities, journalists, and society, in general, we're able to understand the gender-based implication behind the brutal killing of women. However, sexism still reigns in countries such as Mexico; for example, after 26-year-old Ingrid Escamilla was murdered by her partner in early 2020, a newspaper titled the article “It was cupid’s fault” and printed a photograph of her skinned and dismembered body on its cover. One of the two newspapers that published the graphic pictures issued a statement where it acknowledged the fact that it had revictimized Ingrid with its words and photographs but did not apologize to the victim’s family.

What is the difference between femicide and homicide?

Femicide is primarily perpetrated by men, it is motivated by misogynistic ideas, and is the result of systematic abuse. In contracts, homicide can be the result of different factors but it does not involve the same gender-related factors behind femicide.

Furthermore, Jill Radford defined femicide as the “misogynous killing of women by men, motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure, or a sense of ownership of women.”

Types of femicides

Academics have identified several types of femicides: racist femicide, homophobic femicide, marital femicide, and infant femicide.

For example, “honor” killings in the Middle East and the targeted abortion of girls in China are considered in femicide.

According to recent studies, “advances in gender equity tend to decrease the risk” of femicide but there is a “potential backlash occurring when women begin to attain equal status with men.”

Femicide in Mexico

In Mexico, Ciudad Juárez became an emblematic femicide case in Mexico and the world. Authorities registered a series of femicides in 1993. The heinous crime was perpetrated against female factory workers, which followed a serial pattern involved extreme violence against women of certain socio-economic characteristics. The cases were never solved and no criminal was ever prosecuted.

The tragic Ciudad Juárez case was followed by hundreds of victims, mainly in the state of Mexico.

On March 9, women in Mexico will go on a national strike to protest against femicide and gender violence after a series of brutal femicides sparked outrage in the country early this year.

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