Profiling Tepehua – September 2022

For over a century we have been talking about women’s rights and the equality of man around the world.  Equal pay for equal work, equal status for all races, and the right to practice faith as one sees it, feels it. In marriage a woman is not owned, she has the same status as her husband, and whatever she chooses is her right as it is his. For 100 years we have been talking. Why are we still talking? Why is it still the same? Although, if femicide is committed now, the victim has a chance to make it to the headlines, whereas before it was a “family affair” and nobody outside the village or town knew about it. The definition of “femicide” is the killing of women and girls because . . . they are women and girls. It is not quite as simple as that. It all stems from violence, and violence likes the vulnerable. Sexual assault is not about attraction to the opposite sex it is about rage.

Jalisco has among the highest rates for femicide and abuse where 7 out of 10 women experience domestic abuse by husband or partner despite Mexico being a member of a worldwide agreement to stop offenses against women.  The Independent News has stated, “The appalling increase in the number of murdered and abused women in Mexico since the start of 2020 should be seized on as a watershed moment in which government steps up to address the root causes of harm against women.”

The root causes for violence are too many to list. It has no socioeconomic borders. One would think poverty incites abuse out of the sheer struggle to survive, but that really isn´t the case.

Very few women come forward to report abusive situations, and very few believe they can leave.  Where will they go? The Tepehua Community Center has private counseling which are held strictly by appointment or are caused by emergency situations. They are not necessarily held at the center or by our counselors. The local DIF has a hotline as well and the center works closely with them. If an emergency requires immediate evacuation of the woman, she is taken to a safe house in Guadalajara and is not allowed to take anything with her, and that includes her children. A very good reason many women prefer not to leave. Unless they have a trusted person to leave their baby with, how can they go? It is a situation only now being addressed by officials and in many cases is taken lightly. There should be many more escape avenues than there are. That will come if we talk about it more.

In an O.A.S. report, since the start of 2022 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has noted rising reports of femicide and the disappearance of women, girls, and adolescents throughout Mexico, Veracruz, and Nuevo Leon. The National Search Commission stated that 24,600 women have been reported missing, 2,287 rapes (reported; there are untold numbers not reported) and more than 50,000 family or intimate relationship violence cases. (Not counting femicide).

The experience of the Tepehua team has been that giving women the education and tools will result in their taking responsibility for making the changes across society that will not only reduce violence against women but also improve all aspects of their lives.

Under the Convention of Belém do Para and rulings of the IA Court, Mexico is obliged to act with all due diligence to prevent, investigate, and punish all forms of gender-based violence (also considered a hate crime) against women, girls, and adolescents. It should be noted that these obligations have been incorporated by Mexico into the legal framework that is made up of the General Law on Women’s access to a life free from violence. Let’s talk about it.

September 2022 Issue

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Moonyeen King
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