A group of a dozen women from different feminist, civil society organizations, and collectives protested outside of the Mexico State representative's office in the luxury neighborhood of Las Lomas in Mexico City to denounce what they argue is the government's inability and unwillingness to reduce the high rate of femicides and gender based violence in the state.
The protest comes exactly one year after the Mexico State governor, Eruviel Avila, announced that a set of measures to tackle the issue known as the Gender Alert would be applied in 11 of the state's 125 municipalities.
“A struggle of more than 6 years was waged so that the Mexico State government would recognize gender violence and femicides as a real problem, they put every roadblock in our way to minimize the reality or silence our voices. Finally after pressure from the streets and the courts we were able to have the state declare the gender alert, but now we see no results. They have just been words,” said one of the masked and unidentified protesters.
WATCH: Mexico: Gender Violence Victims Struggle With Authorities
The Gender Alert, pushed by civil society organizations, includes a series of legal measures and funding toward programs that are designed to capacitate public servants – such as the police and public prosecutors – with gender specific and sensitive understanding, classifications for violent crimes that can be deemed as motivated by gender, centers and refuges to protect victims of gender based violence, and stiff sentences for those convicted of gender based violence or of committing a femicide.
“Although we fought hard for this to be put in place, we do not see a concerted effort to implement it. The measures need to be taken off paper and those [public servants] working at the street level need to be trained,” says Karla Paola, activist and one of the organizers of the protest.
Thus far in 2016, the Mexico State Attorney initiated at least 31 investigations into possible femicides. The number is 32% higher than the same period of 2015, before the Gender Alert was put into place. However independent organizations say the number of violent deaths of women is much higher, with at least 146 murders. According to the civil society organization Mujeres en Cadena, 14 women have been violently murdered in July alone.
“We only need to look at the Governor's speeches – the previous 2 times that the gender alert was requested by society, he said there were no problems of gender-based violence facing women in the state and there was nothing wrong,” says Paola, “but he was also facing a lot of public pressure so he accepted, more to gain political and personal points rather than appease to the demands from society. His overall posture was contradictory,” continued the activist.
Mexico State was the first of now 4 of the Mexican Republic to apply the Gender Alert measure, which formally became a legal device in 2007 following years of femicides in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez in the State of Chihuahua. The other states that have the measure applied are Michoacan, Jalisco and Morelos.WATCH: Mexican Women Demand End to Gender Violence