The Impunity Machine: Crimes against women do not matter in Mexico

In addition to rarely being denounced out of fear and lack of trust from the victims, millions of crimes against women go unpunished in Mexico due to the incapacity and negligence of authorities

The Impunity Machine: Crimes against women do not matter in Mexico
Women protest against gender violence and femicides in Mexico City – Photo: Gustavo Graf Maldonado/REUTERS
English 05/03/2020 19:56 Alexis Ortiz Mexico City Actualizada 20:37
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In recent years, the impunity of crimes against women has become a constant in Mexico since only 7% of the crimes suffered by this sector of society are investigated by authorities.

The last National Survey on Victimization and Perception of Public Security (Envipe) revealed, for instance, that in 2018, there were 16,667,291 crimes against women, however, 15,609,239 were not investigated because the victims did not denounce or authorities did not open an investigation file.

Moreover, the survey of Mexico’s National Statistics and Geography Institute (Inegi) also revealed that in 2018, 1,058,052 investigations were opened but only 58,228 alleged aggressors were taken before a judge.

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EL UNIVERSAL made a revision of the last four Envipe published by Inegi and detected similar figures: between 2015 and 2018, only 7% of the crimes against women were investigated and, later, only between 5% and 7% of the alleged criminals were taken before a judge for their crimes.

On the other hand, Inegi also explains why the female population does not go to the corresponding authorities to denounce the crimes: they consider it a waste of time, for lack of trust on the authorities, for considering that the crime is not relevant, because they had no evidence, to avoid a long procedure, for fear of their aggressor, for the hostile attitude from the authorities, for fear of being extorted, and because of other circumstances that were not specified.

Experts have urged to pay attention to the work of justice officials since their behavior toward women could be one of the main causes why this sector does not denounce the aggressions.

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Discrimination
Irene Tello Arista, executive director of the Zero Impunity organization, expressed that this phenomenon “is highly related to discrimination at the time of denouncing. Women are treated with prejudices and stereotypes; authorities ask them if they drank alcohol, if they had a relationship with their aggressor, if they are sure they want to denounce. The investigations that must be done immediately take too long or there is no specialized staff.”

Last year, Zero Impunity, along with the Tojil association, published the Guide Against Gender Violence in Public Ministries, a document with which they have 10 recommendations to women to go to the justice authorities and denounce any aggression against them.

Almost a year after its publication, Irene Tello explains that 90% of the crimes against women that took place in the family sphere are not denounced and the figure would be higher in the crimes committed in the community sphere.

Meanwhile, the Envipe explains which are the state with a higher number of crimes against women without investigation.

The State of Mexico has the highest black figure, followed by Mexico City, Jalisco, Veracruz, Puebla, Guanajuato, Baja Caifornia, Sonora, Nuevo León, and Guerrero.

On the contrary, the states with a lowest figure are Colima, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Nayarit, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Tlaxcala, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán.

Adriana Greaves, lawyer and co-founder of Tojil, said that the low number of denounced crimes is due to the normalization of violence and the inefficiency of authorities.

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“Women have minimized violence against them and consider it normal acting by men, they think it is irrelevant. On the other hand, there is also a founded fear in women that if they want to denounce, they will not find an answer nor protection from the authorities,” she asserted.

The expert considered that in order to end impunity against the female population, it is not only necessary to attend the black figure but to strengthen the whole justice system.

“The reality is that, currently, justice and investigation institutions are overtaken by nearly 10% of denounces by women. Now, imagine if all women who suffered some kind of violence were to denounce. We would see an absolute collapse of the institutions,” she said.

Violence against women has not only caused them to stop denouncing but their perception of security has worsened.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Urban Public Security (Ensu) by Inegi, 77% of women feel unsafe in Mexico.

This figure rose by 7% since September 2013, the first year of the administration of the then-President Enrique Peña Nieto.

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In 2015, a total of 64,588 aggressors of women were taken before a judge after the MP had carried out an investigation. It is the highest figure ever in the last four registries revealed by the Envipe.

Despite it, the 64,588 aggressors only represented 7% of the total of people who were investigated in 2015 by the authorities.

After that moment, that is, between 2016 and 2018, the number of alleged criminals taken before a judge has not exceeded 5%.

Adriana Greaves explained that the justice system has become a cycle of impunity for women.

“From the few crimes that are denounced, a lesser percentage is taken before a judge. That means that women denounced, but then you have an MP unable to correctly integrate and investigate an investigation file so that there is a trial,” she said.

Likewise, the expert added that the obstacles faced by women continue when the alleged criminal is taken before a judge but is not punished because there are no elements to prove the offense.

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Irene Tello said that this phenomenon can be due to “the disarticulation between actors of the justice system. We always separate the critiques toward police officers or judges and evaluate the development of each of the institutions and we have not noticed that they are institutions that, in addition to having their own deficiencies, must work jointly.”

The expert added that the low number of aggressors that are taken before the judge could be related to the implementation of the new penal justice system which allows solving matters without the need for that part of the legal process.

In this regard, the last Envipe points out that, during 2018, women recovered their properties in 6.6% of the investigation files, 3.7% of the criminals was forgiven by the victim, and in 2.7% of the cases there was compensation for the victims.

Since the Envipe does not separate the kind of offense by sex, it was impossible to know which were the most common offenses against the female population.

What is known is that 20% of the investigation files opened in 2018 for crimes against women were pending until last September, when the Envipe was last updated.

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Moreover, 52% of these inquests had not shown any kind of positive result in favor of the victim.

In front of this scenario of violence and impunity, Mexican women have called for a national strike next March 9 with the objective of the female population to stop performing their economic, work, and academic activities to call the attention of authorities.

This manifestation will take place one day after International Women’s Day when several protests are expected to take place in the country.

On the other hand, the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP) informed two days ago that during January 2020, 230 women were murdered; only 73 of these cases are being investigated as femicide.

Recommended: 10 women are murdered in Mexico every day

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