Mexico’s Gender Violence Alerts: program assessment and funding misuse

Mexico’s Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero stressed the importance to assess the actions taken to fight violence against women to ensure the efficiency of the national program

Mexico’s gender violence alerts: assessment and funding misuse
Women holding crosses take part in a demonstration to commemorate the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Mexico City, Mexico, November 25, 2016 – Photo: Carlos Jasso/REUTERS
English 16/10/2019 15:06 Reuters Mexico City Óscar López, Ellen Wulfhorst & Thomson Reuters Foundation/REUTERS Actualizada 15:06
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Money intended for a national program to fight violence against women has been misused, a top Mexican official said on Tuesday, confirming a media probe saying the funds were spent on key-rings and refrigerator magnets as promotional tokens for the campaign.

Such use funding misuse intended for national, state and local governments to help support arrests and lower murder rates is “unacceptable,” said Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero at a daily news conference in Mexico City.

Some USD $4.5 million was allocated last year for the gender violence alert system, aimed at areas with rises in attacks against women.

Last week, local magazine Sin Embargo published an investigation saying the money was used to purchase magnets, piñatas, and key-rings in the State of Mexico, which borders Mexico City, one of the most dangerous states for women in the country.

The tokens were meant to be part of an effort to raise awareness and prevent violence against women, it said.

Sin Embargo also said some municipalities complained of never getting the money at all.

“Neither the money nor the resources are being used where they should be,” Sánchez Cordero said. “On the contrary, they’re being used for key-rings.”

In a news conference at the National Palace, Sánchez Cordero asserted that femicide is an issue of concern at the level of the National Guard, for which its members are already being trained in gender matters.

“Gender alerts must be assessed because if there are no actions after issuing the alert, they do not have the positive impact they should have and that it why we are working. I am committed in that respect, it is one of my life commitments.”

The danger is a nationwide problem in Mexico, where on Monday, the government said that 125,000 women had been reported as victims of violence this year.

Between January and August, 638 women were killed because of their gender in a crime known as femicide, up 16% from the previous year.

The gender violence alert system was approved by the nation’s lawmakers in 2007 as a tool to mobilize law enforcement and judicial officials.

The country’s 31 states and the capital district of Mexico City can get the funding when they activate the alert, typically if there is a spike in violence against women.

But it was only activated for the first time in the State of Mexico in 2015 and then in 16 more states.

Mexico’s National Statistics Agency (INEGI) has said about 45% of women in Mexico have experienced some form of violence by a partner, with almost 18% suffering from physical abuse.

The persistence of violence has prompted some politicians to question the value of the alert system.

“Right now, there are 17 states that have a gender violence alert, and there hasn’t been an improvement,” Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said in a speech last month.

“We need to discuss... what the gender violence alert mechanism means, what are the measures we need to take, and not simply declare it to pretend like we’re doing something.”

Last month, a Mexico City judge ordered authorities to enact the alert in the capital city, but it has been delayed in the courts.


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