On Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, The Carter Center’s Forum on Women, Religion, Violence, and Power held a live online roundtable discussing the issue of violence against women and femicide in Mexico. Dr. Kirsten Rambo of the Women’s Shelter Program in San Luis Obispo County, California moderated the discussion with Maria Consuelo Mejia, of Catholics for the Right to Decide, and Rodolfo Dominguez of The Justice, Human Rights, and Gender Civil Association in Mexico City.
Femicide in Mexico has reached pandemic levels. The problem first gained attention with the huge numbers of missing women in the state of Juarez in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now, the state of Mexico, which borders Mexico City, is facing a rate of femicide that is out of control. Femicide rates have doubled and tripled in some areas, in part due to a corrupt judicial system and in part due to growing cultural acceptance.
Mr. Dominguez defined “femicide” as the murder of a woman in which her gender is a motivation for the violence. All three of the participants in this roundtable agreed that femicide is the extreme end result of a cultural attitude towards women. Objectifying women and girls, as well as normalizing violence against women, is the catalyst that allows femicide to gain traction as a pandemic-level issue.
Ms. Mejia discussed the legal successes and future goals within the scope of femicide in Mexico. She said that having femicide codified into law is a huge success. Codification allows the relatively few perpetrators who are caught to be prosecuted in a way that reflects the particular issue with this hate crime, as opposed to homicide.
All three participants stressed that although “this is a problem in Mexico, it is not a ‘Mexican’ problem.” Femicide is at one of the highest rates in Mexico, but happens all over the world. Compartmentalizing the issue as one that only Mexicans face is counterproductive in the long-term.
To combat femicide and violence against women globally, we must all face the issues within our own cultures that objectify women. People can get involved and raise awareness by sharing information like that in this roundtable and volunteering either with time or financially at local women’s shelters and other organizations involved in the fight to end violence against women.
Mr. Dominguez stressed his position that although it is extremely important for men, like himself, to get involved in fighting objectifying cultural attitudes, it is equally important to ensure that women take the leading role in this fight. He says for men to lead would be a form of stripping women of their agency, which is the ultimate root of violence against women.