Of the many problems my country faces, violence is undeniably the worst of all. Nonetheless, not all problems make it to the headlines as frequently as others, such as the cases of rape. And if they do make it to the headlines, it’s often by judging characters and not the root causes that led to these crimes.
Mexicans are used to hearing about violent acts against women, since this society seems to be ruled by it. Femicide in Juárez and the state of Mexico, or the alarming statistics of domestic violence in states like Jalisco, do not longer seem bother neither the public nor the authorities.
However, it does trouble the authorities when it comes to their reputation, such as the case of six Spanish tourist women who were raped in Acapulco last January. Only until this happened to foreign nationals, the Mexican government quickly responded and caught perpetrators almost immediately. And only until this was exposed at the international level and media, we get to know how bad the situation actually is for Mexican women.
As violence has increased over the last decade, so has the crime of rape. Every year, an approximate of 112.000 women become victims of rape, stating that this happen to a woman every 4.6 minutes. According to the National Survey on Victimization and Public Security Perception, 94% of sexual abuses are not documented, leading to the conclusion that a higher number of cases of rape are quite possible.
In 2012 there were 14.050 rape complaints before the Public Prosecutor of the Attorney’s General Office in Mexico. A similar number since 2009, when there were 14.829 complaints, but only 3.462 prosecutions and 2.795 convictions for this crime; meaning that for every 10 rape complaints, there were only 2.3 prosecutions. Amnesty International estimates that only one out of 21 cases of raped are resolved by Mexican authorities, also stating that 5% of rape cases are punished at the federal level.
Even when women report crimes, there are many who do not want to continue with this process. Experts affirm that around 50% of complaints do not reach term. On many occasions as a result of the judicial process is very long and painful for the victims. Many women do not want to file reports since they do not think authorities will favor them; many others do not want to go through the humiliating procedures that the authorities perform in order to start judicial procedures.
Rape and other violent crimes against women are becoming more frequent and more brutal and a limited number of perpetrators are being held accountable. Throughout life, the prevalence of sexual violence against women is 17.3%, which means that one in six women suffer this type of aggression, according to results from the National Survey on Violence against Women published by the National Public Health Institute.
Sexual violence also triggers mental and physical permanent disorders, in which women cannot fully enjoy their lives as normal citizens. Around 70% of aggressors are related to the victims, making it difficult to overcome traumas and being highly prone to be victims in multiple occasions.
Women in Mexico continue and will continue to live in a male-dominated society which seems to be highly unffective in justice delivery. Rape, is just one of the many cases of discrimination and misogyny, along with cultural practices that put women and girls a secondary citizens. Education and a functional judicial apparatus that protects and endorses human rights are among the many solutions to this terrible crime.
Women are not the ones to blame for this crime, since we all enjoy of freedom of speech, movement and of course, to be able to live without fear. Let us start educating our children, our people towards a better country, in which discrimination and inequality among sexes, can be fully and permanently eradicated.
Karol Alejandra Arámbula Carrillo – Consultant in Political and International Affairs from Guadalajara, Mexico.