Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mexican state passes femicide law

Yesterday Mexico's interior ministry distributed a guide for federal employees with the goal of reducing machismo in the workplace. The useful recommendations in the "Manual for the Non-Sexist Use of Language" could help in promoting more equal workplaces though other measures may be more effective in combating violence against women.

Legislators in Mexico State unanimously passed a law last week that legally recognizes femicides as an independent crime category. Those found guilty of gender-based murder (as strictly defined by the new law) would be punished with a fine and a prison sentence of forty to seventy years. The measure also toughens penalties against sexual harassment and provides state officials with a legal mechanism to protect female victims of violence.

The new law also allowed for the creation of a specialized office in charge of cases of violence against women in Mexico State’s office of the Attorney General. This legal division has reportedly been busy identifying femicide cases that could be prosecuted under the newly created law.

Despite the overwhelming local legislative support though federal deputy Mónica Fragoso Maldonado told El Universal that the measure does little to solve the problem of violence against women:
“My particular viewpoint is against increasing penalties because we already have a repressive system that does not prevent that violence against women happens. Toughening penalties does not necessarily imply that delinquency will decrease even though (the new law) advances in codifying femicides”.
Carlos Mercado Casillas, deputy director of the organization that wrote the aforementioned manual, called for judicial reforms to make it easier for women to denounce possible cases of violence against them. Casillas claimed that 76% of all phone calls to Mexico’s emergency hotline were related to violence against women; thus making it a “fundamental problem of public safety”.

According to an umbrella group of women’s rights organizations at least 1700 females have been killed in Mexico since 2009.

Image- Margarito Perez/Reuters via (“Pink crosses made out of paper, each representing a woman who has been killed, are placed on a square in Cuernavaca in Mexico on March 7.”)
Online Sources- Prcoeso, Milenio, France24,, Excelsior

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