Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images

Violence against women soars in Mexico

Abductions, rapes and murders of women are higher than ever, as UN calls for end to femicide

Violence against women must stop, United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon said Tuesday — the International Day to End Violence Against Women — as it was reported that 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide are located in Latin America.

In Mexico, over a dozen female torture victims echoed Ban’s alarm. Members of the group "Break the Silence," which aims at raise awareness of what it calls the government's systematic use of sexual violence, said that despite countless cases, there have only been two federal convictions for torture of women in the country’s history, Mexican news website Animal Politico reported.

The numbers of abductions, rapes, and murders of women are higher in Mexico than ever before, with an average of seven women killed violently every day, according to local media. In July, U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, said that Mexican women suffer from multiple and intersecting forms of violence, ranging from militarization as part of the so-called war on drugs, to impunity among security forces, to impediments to women seeking access to justice.

The number of murdered women skyrocketed in Mexico between 2007 and 2013, with the country averaging 4.4 murders per 100,000 women — double the global average, according to government data.

In some states, including Chihuahua and Guerrero — which are engulfed in violence from organized crime — the rates are even higher at 10.1 and 12.8 murders per 100,000 women, respectively. That means Guerrero’s murder rate among women is about five times higher than the global average. Most of the deaths are young women, and most are killed in public by gunfire, according to the data.

On Monday, women’s rights organizations condemned the violence at a rally in Mexico City. Protesters said femicides are just one more example of the insecurity and repression that permeate Mexico. To make their point, activists carried a banner saying: “For the thousands of disappeared women in the country, for the 43 disappeared students in Ayotzinapa.”

In September, police opened fire on students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, part of a federal teachers college system. The shooting left six dead, including three bystanders. In the aftermath, 43 students disappeared. The case of the 43 missing students has revealed the high levels of corruption in all levels of government, critics have said.

Since the so-called war on drugs began less than a decade ago, more than 85,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands forcibly disappeared. And the murder rate among women increased 155 percent between 2007 and 2012. Families have routinely complained that police show little interest in solving cases of missing women.

Critics question whether Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto can control violence against women. Just a few miles from Pena Nieto's symbolic residence in Mexico City, there is a vacant field that locals have nicknamed the “women’s dumping ground” because so many bodies have been dumped there amid the piles of garbage since 2006.

Seventeen-year-old Dulce Cristina Payan was one of the victims, killed two years ago after armed men in a pickup pulled up and dragged her and her boyfriend from the porch of her home, Reuters reported.

Her father, Pedro Payan, thinks his daughter was murdered for resisting rape.

“I think my daughter defended herself, because her nails were broken, and her knuckles were scraped,” said Payan. “She had a strong character.”

With wire services

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