Mexico’s ‘Gender Alert’ is Failing to Keep Women Safe

Mexico is among the 20 worst countries in the world to be a woman, according to the 2019 US News & World Report.

This says a lot about the country’s social dynamic. There’s a lack of justice, human rights, safety and equality. Truly, there’s a lot of work to do.

Most recent estimates warn that up to 9 women in Mexico are killed every day and many more suffer violence. The data is scary. What’s even scarier is that the Mexican justice system allows impunity. Safety and security in the country is not good enough for anyone, and for women it is particularly bad.

The Mexican government ‘try’ not to ignore this issue. Thanks to international attention and efforts, Mexico has shown growing commitment to preventing violence against women. We do have some laws in place, such as Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia (General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence). This law includes an interesting and unique mechanism – referred to as the ‘gender alert’.

What is Mexico’s gender alert?

In the translated words of the Mexican government:

“The gender alert is a mechanism for the protection of women’s human rights, unique in the world (…) It consists in a set of emergency governmental actions to confront and eradicate feminicide violence and / or the existence of a comparative grievance that limits the full exercise of the human rights of women, in a given territory.”

The goal is to guarantee safety for women in areas where violence is particularly pervasive. The problem? It’s not a preventive policy. There are multiple risks facing women and girls every day and yet our authorities wait until things are out of control to activate the alert.

The ‘gender alert’ could do so much more if it were used differently.

Things are not getting better. Femicides continue. Violence continues. Women and society at large are begging authorities to take real action.

There is no way to pretend the ‘gender alert’ is effective. It has now been activated in more than 13 states. We continue to activate this policy in more and more states, while ignoring the causes and reasons. We must innovate and commit to finding solutions to gender violence in Mexico.

The risk and fear must stop.

We have to address the roots of the problem. Even thought Mexico’s gender alert mechanism is not enough to eliminate violence against women, it is a foundation to build on.

The Mexican government need to look beyond ‘covering up’ the situation and truly put in the hard work required to stop violence. It’s never too late.

Policy Matters: VAWA and TVPRA

Photo Courtesy: CNN.com

After much debate and controversy, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was finally passed through the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 286-138 for the bi-partisan Senate version of the bill. The VAWA was originally passed in 1994. The purpose of the VAWA  is to recognize the pervasive nature of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking among girls and women. The VAWA helps support organizations who are offering comprehensive support services to those affected by these crimes.

The VAWA has historically improved the criminal justice systems response to:

  • Hold rapists accountable by strengthening federal penalities
  • Increase rates of prosecution, conviction and sentencing of offenders
  • Ensure that police respond to crisis calls and that judges understand the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault
  • Improve safety for victims by supporting a coordinated community response
  • Focus on the needs of girls and women in underserved communities

This critical piece of legislation is now set to be signed by President Barack Obama. CNN reports that Obama is ready to sign the VAWA.

“I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.” declares Obama.

This victory is one for victims of violence, as well as, service providers daily fighting  for the rights of girls and women. The bill has been reauthorized for another five years which will contribute $659 million dollars to organizations that are addressing these critical issues.

Photo Courtesy: Washington Post

House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi spoke with fervor and passion in support of the VAWA. Many democrats and republicans were in favor of the bill. Despite the political controversy centered around the bill, the fact that it passed proves that no girl or woman deserves to be abused.

Regardless of our political affiliations, we must take a stand against violence towards girls and women.Together we can unite and raise our voices to enforce stricter policies and support organizations that are valiantly in the fight.

Included in the VAWA, was a second victory with the passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The TVPRA exists to monitor and combat the issue of trafficking in persons. The passing of the TVPRA sends a hopeful message to the 27 million people who are currently enslaved around the world.

The effect of the VAWA being passed will reach far greater heights for girls and women. For those of you who spent the past several months calling your congressmen and women I salute you! Without your support, these bills wouldn’t have been passed! Your voice matters. Policy Matters.

Did you advocate for the VAWA? Were you involved in the debate in your country? Tweet us your story @GirlsGlobe!

*Featured image courtesy of ywca.org

Resources:
CNN. House Passes Violence Against Women Act.
Huffington Post. VAWA.
Polaris Project. Congress Passes Long Awaited TVPRA.
The State Department.
White House. VAWA Factsheet.
VAWA.