Rape as a Weapon

Femicides in Mexico: Impunity and Protests | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Protester holding sign which reads:  “Don’t Kill Us!”
Photo: ROCIO VAZQUEZ/AFP via Getty Image
WARNING:  Graphic Images

Rape is being used as a weapon in Mexico against women and girls protesting femicide and other gender violence [1].  Women who dress in black or cover their faces – even as a hygiene measure against COVID-19 infection – are viewed as suspect.

Femicide in Mexico

The World Health Organization defines femicide as the intentional murder of women because they are women.

Nearly 3500 femicides were committed in Mexico in 2019 alone [2].  Approximately 10 women are killed everyday by strangulation, suffocation, stabbing, and drowning.  Some 93% of crimes are either not reported or not investigated.

The inaction of Mexico toward this situation has drawn criticism from around the world.

Media Demonization

Women taking part in protests have been demonized by the media.  In this way, authorities have undermined the legitimacy of protest.  To further assure that women know their place, law enforcement uses violence to punish women who dare to take to the streets.

Human Rights Violations

More than two years after a judgment in the case of Women Victims of Sexual Torture in Atenco v. Mexico by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mexico has made little progress in preventing human rights violations against women demonstrators.

According to Amnesty International, police regularly employ illegal detention and excess force, including sexual violence [3][4].

  • Demonstrators may be clubbed, beaten, or dragged bodily by police.
  • Police fail to identify themselves to demonstrators, or advise them of the reasons for their arrest.
  • Demonstrators are transported without information as to their destination, and subjected to solitary confinement.
  • Verbal abuse, comments of a sexual nature, threats of sexual violence, and outright rape are all tactics used to intimidate arrested demonstrators.
  • Necessary medical attention is often not provided.  When it is provided, medical exams are performed without consent, in the presence of persons who are not health professionals.

Authorities can justifiably impose restrictions to prevent damage to public and private property by protesters.

According to international human rights law, however, painting slogans or symbols, targeting monuments, and breaking windows are protected by the right of free assembly unless there is widespread and serious violence likely to cause injury or death.

Women’s History

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal.”

-Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1848)

March is Women’s History Month [5].  The suffrage movement in the US began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 [6].  In Mexico, it began during the Mexican Revolution at the First Feminist Congress of the Yucatan in 1916 [7].

But the struggle for equality goes on.

[1]  NBC News, “Mexican women have been physically, sexually abused for participating in protests”  by By Albinson Linares of Noticias Telemundo, 3/10/21, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/mexico-women-physically-sexually-abused-participating-protests-rcna373.

[2]  Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), “Femicides in Mexico:  Impunity and Protests” by Linnea Sandin, 3/19/20, https://www.csis.org/analysis/femicides-mexico-impunity-and-protests.

[3]  Amnesty International, “Mexico:  The (R)age of Women:  Stigma and Violence Against Women Protesters”, 3/3/21, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr41/3724/2021/en/.

[4]  Amnesty International, “Mexico:  The (R)age of Women – Stigma and Violence and Against Women Protesters”, February 2021, https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AMR4137242021ENGLISH.PDF.

[5]  People Magazine, “Women’s History Month:  How It Started, Why We Celebrate in March and More Questions Answered” by Andrea Wurzburger, 3/8/21, https://people.com/human-interest/womens-history-month-facts-explainer/.

[6]  History, “Women’s Suffrage”, 2/23/21, https://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/the-fight-for-womens-suffrage.

[7]  Gobierno de Mexico, “63rd anniversary of women’s suffrage in Mexico”, 10/18/16, https://www.gob.mx/sre/articulos/63rd-anniversary-of-women-s-suffrage-in-mexico.

Rape is being used as a weapon of war in Ethiopia.  Women are being gang raped.  One woman’s vagina was crammed with nails, stones, and plastic debris.

See, https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/19/africa/ethiopia-tigray-rape-investigation-cmd-intl/index.html.



Filed under Abuse of Power, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Rape, Violence Against Women

18 responses to “Rape as a Weapon

  1. Cancelling a soul “just because” is far more evil than just thoughtless. And we are supposed to be enlightened?

  2. Difficult to press a “Like” button for this, more an “I understand and sympathize” button. Pray for our world and our nations. Father will only wait so long before judging the peoples of the earth.

  3. It is very sad that women still are victims only because of being a women and can be murdered without punishment. I know this from Mexico long time ago but I didn´t think that still it is possible today.

  4. Heartbreaking and powerful. Thank you for giving this a Voice, Anna.

    Your brother,

  5. It is a tragedy that rape continues to be used as weapon. My prayers are for these women, and women through out the world who are raped and abused just because they are women and are thought of being less in the culture they live in, which is far from the truth. Thank you for bringing awareness to this horrific crime.

  6. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Very good article Anna, and important to know and to disseminate such news. I believe that the underlying culture of “machismo” in countries like Mexico is being threatened and they are trying, with everything they can, to lash back and resume their top position of control. It is lamentable that women organisations spend so much time trying to protest and to bring forth their arguments in countries where the problem is not so acute and they do not concentrate on places like Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba, Turkey and other totalitarian states that mistreat women systematically. The Turkish president, Erdogan, just pulled out of the Istanbul Convention for women’s rights and protections. In that country women are being victimised for many diverse things, such as breaking up with a boyfriend. Many have ended up being killed by the boyfriend who, in turn, does about three months in prison because the crime is not looked at with the same seriousness as the murder of a male or not looked at as murder at all. This problem has to be solved with measures that take into consideration how little boys and girls are raised and what expectations exist for their behaviour in adult life. This is not solved with a multitudinous manifestation in the streets of Madrid or New York, it has to be done by people, men and women, who really are willing to roll up their sleeves and work towards a real and lasting solution to eradicate this pandemic forever. Thank you Anna, this was a thought-provoking and very much needed post. All the best,

    • Thank you for this well considered response, Francisco. It is tragic that women are still so mistreated in many nations in the 21st Century. While I support protest, I fully agree that change in the family setting is essential. How children are raised has enormous bearing on the way they treat others as adults.

  7. Even reading about it is simply disturbing, it still a very long journey for women to claim their right to live with respect in this world let alone gender equality.

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