Hiding Under the Bed Is Not the Answer

Death Threats Against Prominent Journalist and Human Rights Activist in Mexico

Photo copyright European Press Photo Agency

This week the Mexican office of Amnesty International emitted a statement in support of the Mexican journalist, Lydia Cacho. It reported that Cacho, who is based in the state of Quintana Roo, had received death threats via email and telephone in June and that AI feared for her safety. On its webpage the organisation called on its supporters to take urgent action to support Cacho and demand that the Mexican government take steps to protect her as well as to undertake an investigation into the threats. There is a petition to this effect drawn up by the Lydia Cacho Foundation in Spain and currently circulating via the social media; it can be signed here.

Lydia Cacho has specialised in writing and campaigning in favour of women. In 2000 she founded a women’s shelter (Centro Integral de Atención de las Mujeres) in Cancun and is cofounder of the Mexican national network of women’s shelters (Red Nacional de refugios para mujeres que viven de violencia). During her writing career she has founded an edited the magazine Esta boca es mía: apuntes de equidad y género (“This is my mouth: notes on equality and gender”) and has written a number of books dealing with themes of sexual violence against women and children. Her most recent publication Esclavas del poder
(Ed. Grijalbo, 2010) was based on her interviews with women and girls who had been trafficked and forced into prostitution.

The worries about the safety of Cacho are well founded. As I have reason to document on this blog before now, to defend human rights –especially those of women- in Mexico is a dangerous occupation. According the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights, at least 70 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000. Moreover, Cacho has been a target of intimidation before; in fact, so much so that the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights ordered the Mexican government to take steps to protect her in 2008. In 2005 Cacho published the book Los demonios del Edén: el poder detrás de la pornografía infantil (Ed. Grijalbo) which detailed how a ring of child pornographers and paedophiles were protected by key figures in Mexican politics and business in the states of Puebla and Quintana Roo. Following the publication of this book, the governor of the State of Puebla, Mario Marín and other figures in his government organised a campaign against her which resulted in her brief imprisonment in 2006. Although the case made against her could not stand and she was eventually freed; no action was taken against Marín. On her release, Cacho filed charges against governor, district attorney and a judge for corruption and attempted rape in prison. She took the case to Mexico’s Supreme Court, but again, without success (for information in English on this see here.)

The death threats against Cacho are evidently designed to intimidate and silence her. But she is a courageous woman who continues to speak out in favour of the rights of women and children. For that she is deserving of admiration and support, so please take up Amnesty’s appeal to speak out in her favour or sign the petition on-line.

Filed under: Feminism, Human Rights in Mexico, Politics, Violence Against Women, , , , , , , ,

Charity Marie Stopes International Awards Prize to the Government of Mexico City for its Sexual and Reproductive Health Policies.

The following is an English version of this news item. An alternative version the same story can be found here.

The Government of the Mexico City’s Federal District has received a prize from the charity Marie Stopes International in recognition of its social policies concerning sexual and reproductive health, especially for the work it has carried out in the four years since elective abortion (up until 12 weeks of pregnancy) was introduced.

The capital’s Health Secretary, Armando Ahued Ortega, who travelled to London in representation of Marcelo Ebrad Casaubon, accepted the award from Dana Hovig, the Executive Director of Marie Stopes International, an organization founded in 1921 which now has a presence in 43 countries (including Mexico). On accepting the award, Ahued Ortega emphasised the evolution undergone by the programme Interrupción Legal del Embarazo (ILE) or the Legal Termination of Pregnancy, in the Federal District, which has involved the training of medical personnel, the move towards a drugs based approach, as well as the creation of a strategy to avoid unwanted pregnancy. He stated: “We only want women to become pregnant if they so wish, for this reason we have strengthened our campaigns in education about sexual and reproductive health.”

During his encounter with the representatives of Marie Stopes International, Ahued Ortega signed an agreement with the charity to receive their assistance in sexual and reproductive health policies. Since elective abortion was made legal in Mexico City’s Federal District in 2007, 97, 989 women have sought advice about this procedure; 79, 184 women have asked to terminate their pregnancies; and, 61, 549 have undergone the procedure.

Filed under: Women's Right to Choose, , , ,

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