Target: Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico
Goal: Protect women from gender-based violence.
Women in Mexico, as well as the rest of Latin America, suffer from widespread violence. In a country steeped in patriarchal traditions mixed with a lack of education and economic problems, women are victimized both in and out of the home. Little is being don to stop the violence; instead it is either covered up by the authorities or never even reported.
Tradition holds women responsible for the honor of the family. Image is the most important element to a woman, and her entire reputation hangs on what people say about her. Just one verbal insult hurled at her can bring the family name crashing down, and subject her to violence by the male members of her family. The beatings and killings of women are done to purge the family name of her shame. In many regions, legal loopholes lessen the consequence of domestic violence if the woman was beaten in order to restore the family name.
Fear of tarnishing the family reputation prevents women from coming forward, as many are told they did something to deserve it, or will be “giving Mexico a bad name.” Those brave enough to come forward have their cases covered up by authorities or are killed. No official statistics on the rate of violence against women have been collected by the government, so very little is known about how many women are beaten and/or killed in Mexico. It is known that many women will exaggerate their claims so they have a better chance at seeking asylum abroad.
Now, one must ask why this is happening, and why Mexico has simply covered up cases and not protected the victims. Critics believe it’s all about appearances. Victims are told not to come forward to the press because they “would be giving Mexico a bad name.” Where the bad name comes from is how women are treated, and the inability to deal with social issues.
Dear Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto,
I’m sure you are fully aware of the violence women in Mexico face daily. Women are victims of violence both in and out of the home, with no laws to protect them. Authorities continue to cover cases of domestic abuse and murder, sometimes denouncing rape victims as prostitutes, and dismissing beatings as “restoring the family name.”
This has to stop. Laws need to be in place to fully punish the perpetrators who are responsible for the violence, and give victims a safe place to go. Education needs to be widespread to prevent future generations from repeating the same cycle, and training to authorities must be provided. Both women and children are victims of the constant violence, and many are told to not go to the authorities or else they would be “giving Mexico a bad name.” That bad name does not come from women coming forward on abuse, it comes from the country failing to protect its citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: European Parliament via flickr