'Neither Flowers Nor Mariachis: We Call for a Day for Women's Rights'
Regional Correspondents* - La Jornada
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March 8, 2013

On Thursday, the eve of International Women's Day, government and civil society agencies in several states presented their analyses of the situation of the emotional, physical and sexual violence that women suffer together with violations of their labor rights and of their right to decide about their own bodies.


The situation is such that according to the Chihuahua Women's Institute (ICHIMU), eight out of ten women are victims of some type of violence in Chihuahua.

The Institute's Coordinator of Psychology, María Antoinette Escobar announced that the majority of the agency's clients have been beaten by their partner or suffered some form of sexual, psychological, family or economic violence.

She pointed out that most of the women in Chihuahua are not clear that there is [such a thing as] psychological violence; hence, they do not usually perceive that they are violated. She said examples of such violence are comments or remarks that a man is able to make to his partner--[comments like] "you are getting really ugly and fat"--which can [negatively] affect her self-esteem and sense of security.

She noted that some of these attacks are generated by the macho culture that educates its sons to take control, manage money and consider women as their property, while the women are taught an attitude of submission.

The Institute's director, Emma Saldaña, noted that last year the agency served 24,492 people for the prevention and treatment of family violence. The Institute's Coordinator of Social Work, Mariel Lozano, declared that while the figures on cases of violence are high, [they reflect not only] greater awareness among women about the different types of violence to which they are subjected but their [increasing awareness of their] rights.


In turn, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reported that according to its National Survey on the Dynamics of Household Relationships, four in ten women over fifteen years in Coahuila are victims of emotional, physical or sexual violence, and in most cases the aggressor is the boyfriend, husband or common-law partner.

According to INEGI, the majority of cases (89.1 percent) of violence documented in Coahuila are emotional in nature. INEGI added that of 100 women who reported assaults, thirteen were related to sexual acts. The agency added that of the universe of women victimized in Coahuila, 60.6 percent are married, 25.8 percent have a dating relationship, concubinage or Civil Solidarity Pact, and 13.6 percent are single.

"Among women married or in relationships, it is worth pointing out the presence of emotional violence (85.2 percent), economic (55.2 percent) and sexual (10.9 percent). Violence against women can take place within the family, at work, school, among a group of friends in the community and be perpetrated by acquaintances, family, authority figures, whether at work or school or, as occurs in a large number of cases, by unknown men," INEGI stated.


In Cuernavaca, Morelos, feminist organizations demanded that the PRD Governor Graco Ramírez issue an alert of domestic gender violence, that both the labor rights of working women and their right to decide about their own bodies be respected.

"This March 8 we don't want flowers, or mariachi, or charity. We demand a day to lay claim to the rights of women. We require recognition as diverse women with political leadership. We work double or triple shifts, and we demand labor rights. We demand the right to a life free of violence," said Juliana García of the Independent Human Rights Commission.

In Morelos, during the administration of Graco Ramírez--which began in October--twenty-eight women have been killed.  Besides, the municipality of Yautepec holds first place in rapes nationwide, reported such NGOs as the Committee Against Femicide, Gender and Human Rights Observatory, and the Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center, among others.


Meanwhile, the Secretariat of Labor of the state of Querétaro began offering self-defense training to female operators in transport units. The agency's head, Tonatiuh Salinas, explained that the Women Initiative program is provided for female workers attending driver training workshops relating to quality of service. In these workshops, self-defense is taught as a tool for identifying risk and how to address it.


For its part, the human rights advocate, Indignation Group, reported that sex workers in Mérida, Yucatán, face arbitrary detention, extortion, discrimination and violence by municipal police.

* Regional Correspondents: Miroslava Breach, Leopoldo Ramos, Armando Cruz, Rubicela Morelos, Mariana Chávez and Luis A. Boffil

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Posted by Jane Brundage at Mexico Voices

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