Authorities finally issued an emergency alert over gender violence concerns in 11 municipalities in the state of Mexico, also known as “Edomex,” as thousands of women and girls have been assassinated in the region over the past decade.
The emergency demand was a long-standing demand from the part of women's rights groups and relatives of the victim since 2010; it will now compel authorities to launch an in-depth investigation into the issue and to determine concrete measure to address it.
“This is a historic day,” said Maria de la Luz Estrada, director of the National Citizens Femicide Observatory, according to The Guardian.
However not all municipalities have been included in the alert, as called for by human rights groups. Authorities justified the decision by demanding more evidence that the murders of women could be characterized femicide rather than victims of the drug war.
Seven women are killed every day in Mexico, say the activists, and in the so-called war on drugs, women are the main victims. According to the Mexican statistical institute INEGI, the total femicides in 2011 nationwide surpassed 2,693. In some Mexican states, femicides are 15 times higher than the global average.
“Issuing an alert in just 11 municipalities is an inadequate response to the serious problem of machismo violence, which exists in the whole state,” Lucia Melgar, a prominent gender academic, told the Guardian.
“There is a huge risk that superficial short-term measures will be implemented, which will not resolve the underlying statewide problems of structural violence, inequality, misogyny and impunity,” she added.
According to figures from the National Citizens’ Observatory on Femicide, in the State of Mexico alone, from 2005 to 2010, when President Enrique Peña Nieto was governor, 920 women were murdered. From 2012 to 2013, during the Eruviel Avila administration there were 530 murders of women, of which only 140 were investigated as femicides. Only ten sentences were given. In the 18 months from 2010 to 2013, more that 1,200 women disappeared.
On Tuesday, five men were sentenced in Mexico to 697 years in prison for femicide in what is an unprecedented move in a country where the systematic killing of women often goes unpunished.