Rape: torture and systemic gender violence in Mexico

Human rights activists lament that soldiers, navy officers, and federal police officers use sexual abuse as torture

Rape: torture and systemic gender violence in Mexico
Gender violence and femicide have been on the rise in the last decades – Photo: Francisco Robles/AFP
English 06/06/2019 09:28 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:35
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Despite the legal efforts and the treaties signed before international organizations, in Mexico, torture has been documented by national and international human rights organizations, nevertheless, women are the ones who suffer the most.

At the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, Mexico and the world went through a dark period, where torture became a recurrent practice. In 1984, the United Nations launched an initiative and 156 countries signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment; Mexico signed it in 1985.

In 1991, the country established its first federal law to prevent and punish torture. In 2017, a new law became effective. Currently, torture has been typified as a crime in the 32 states.

Between 2006 and 2016, out of 9,870 women deprived of their liberty, 15% of them said they were raped during their arrest, at the Public Prosecutors' Office, or during their stay there.
For every man that was the victim of sexual abuse, three women report sexual abuse. According to the victims, the public servants who torture them during the arrest are members of the Navy, Army, and the Federal Police. The aggressions include threats to file false charges against them, asphyxiation, beatings, burns, electric shocks, sexual violence, and threats to harm their families.

Human rights activists lament that although soldiers, navy officers, and federal police officers have been trained to follow the law, this is not the case.

For experts, these cases have two defined reasons. First, they are the result of a “perverse logic” to obtain results and proofs against organized crime at any price, including false charges or through torture. Secondly, because there are no consequences or punishments for those who perpetrated abuses.

The “perverse logic” has to be eliminated through the implementation of inescapable protocols during arrests and detentions. Those arrested should know they have rights and the officials have the obligation to respect those rights. No confession obtained through violence is valid.

Nevertheless, obtaining consequences or punishment for the torturer is a more complicated task because while authorities don't create conditions for the victims to file complaints, victims won't be able to raise their voices.

The panorama is alarming. The eradication of torture would hardly be achieved in the short term, but society, the government, and authorities have to push to eradicate torture in Mexico.


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