Demand Justice for Sexually and Physically Abused Detainees

Target: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

Goal: Punish police and soldiers allegedly responsible for torturing and raping female detainees.

A video was recently leaked showing a woman being suffocated with a plastic bag during an interrogation by police and military officials in Mexico. Amnesty International recently published a report from interviews with 100 women across 19 states, all of whom were detained on suspicions of working with Mexican drug cartels. Of the women interviewed, all reported some kind of sexual harassment and psychological abuse, while 72 reported sexual violence during or immediately following their arrests. Such allegations against state and federal authorities have been made for years.

In Mexico’s war on drugs, the women most often affected by these arrests are poor. They are rounded up in groups on suspicion of being girlfriends or accomplices to cartel members. Many of the women interviewed also stated that they are either lesbian or bisexual. Poor women, especially from the LGBT community, have long been targeted by authorities and Mexican society at large.

Amnesty International posits that women are often detained to boost police arrest rates, rarely with any real evidence against them. While detained, they are regularly beaten, abused, sexually assaulted, and have their families threatened by authorities to obtain confessions. Such confessions obtained under duress are illegitimate and illegal. Though complaints like these are regularly leveled against the police and military, Mexico’s Ministry of Defense has suspended no one for rape or sexual abuse between 2010 and 2015.

Amnesty International lists a series of recommendations to help end this cycle of violence and sexual abuse, including enhancing oversight of the police, military and judiciary, removing the armed forces from public security tasks, and making medical forensic experts independent of the state and federal Attorneys General’s offices. Sign our petition to demand that these changes be made as soon as possible.


Dear President Nieto,

The police and military bodies of your country have widespread and systematic problems with torture and sexual abuse against women, according to reports. As you surely know, poor Mexican women are regularly targeted for arrest on suspicions of drug cartel connections. Many are forced to confess through torture, threats against their families, and rape. These cannot be considered legal confessions and must be stopped.

We urge you to make clear and public that these acts will not be tolerated by your government and any who are accused of such wrongdoings will be relieved of duty and punished. The armed forces should be removed from duties of public security as they are not trained nor held accountable for such things.

To help end the systematic violence against women, we ask that you make forensic medical experts a wing independent of the Attorneys General at all levels. Doing so will ensure that such experts can do their jobs correctly and effectively without potential interference by the Attorney General offices.

Finally, we ask you to make known that the federal police, military and navy must suspend any member, regardless of rank, accused of ill-treatment, abuse or torture until a proper investigation has found them not guilty. If found guilty, perpetrators should be permanently removed from any and all prosecutorial, judicial or public security institutions. Removing them from such jobs will help eradicate state violence against women.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: ledpup

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