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Mexican women face harsher prison sentences

Sexism, inequality, and misogyny also permeate the Mexican justice system

Mexican women face harsher prison sentences
Female inmates suffer violence, poverty, and mistreatment - Photo: Ivan Stephens/EL UNIVERSAL
English 25/02/2020 13:32 Alexis Ortiz Mexico City Actualizada 13:41
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On average, Mexican women are sentenced to 23 years in prison, according to NGO Reinserta; in contrast, men are sentenced to 17 years behind bars, on average.

The NGO recently issued a study titled “The Diagnosis On the Perception of the Performance of the Public Defender's Office in Mexico,” where it explores how inequality also permeates the justice system. Although both women and men are charged with similar crimes, women receive harsher prison sentences.

This phenomenon is most common in Baja California Sur, the state of Mexico, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, and Tamaulipas.

Through a survey, the NGO found that 68% of the crimes perpetrated by women are theft, kidnapping, and homicide; in contrast, theft, homicide, and raper amount to 68% of the crimes perpetrated by males.

Fernanda Dorantes, the Legal Director for Reinserta, explains that female inmates might receive harsher punishments because society stigmatizes them: “There is a deep-rooted concept of women as an immaculate image. When she incurs in reprehensible behavior, the social criticism is harsher than towards men.”

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The report also emphasizes that each woman are often sentenced to 25 behind bars, while the most common prison sentences for men are 5 years.

Furthermore, sexism and misogyny are not only evident in prison sentences, but also in regards to public defenders and private lawyers, as well as in the amount of money they spend on their legal defense.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Reinserta, A.C. (@reinserta) on

The study shows that while men usually hire a different lawyer during the process, women change lawyers up to three times since they consider these lawyers are not properly handling their cases.

Moreover, the study reveals that on average, women spend MXN $155,593 in legal fees, while males spend around MXN $100,521.

What is more, Dorantes considers that the role of lawyers is essential for women to receive a fair sentence and called lawyers and public defenders to implement gender perspective. The expert added that lawyers must consider the context of the crimes and the woman, as well as providing their services to the alleged criminals as soon as they are arrested in order to protect their human rights.

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In regards to lawyers and public defenders, out of the 3,073 people who participated in the survey, 40% of them think their lawyers did a terrible job:

“Legal services are quite deficient in Mexico, 65% of those surveyed graded the services of their lawyers with a 0. The deficiencies are systematic and generalized,” Dorantes said.
However, the expert says that private lawyers were given a better grade in contrast with public defenders but recognized the labor of the Federal Institute of Public Defense, which indicates legal services are improving.

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