Hiding Under the Bed Is Not the Answer

Justicia para Nuestras Hijas Press Releases (October 2011-January 2012)


From now on I shall be publishing the monthly press releases of Justicia para Nuestras Hijas (Justice For Our Daughters), an NGO based in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua. The organization is run by a group of parents whose daughters have gone missing or been killed in the state of Chihuahua. It was founded in 2002 and works to find those missing, while campaigning for the efficient investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against women. The statements are available on their website; however, as I translate these documents, I thought that including them on my blog would aid their diffusion.

    In this first post, I include releases I have on archive (October 2011 to January 2012). In subsequent posts I shall publish each statement as and when they are released.

PRESS RELEASE OCTOBER 2011

Chihuahua, Chihuahua State, Mexico 25 November 2011

  • What is “gender perspective”?
  • 323 femicides between January and November 2011
  • 219 women have disappeared between 1994 and 2011

Understanding “gender perspective” can help us comprehend how men can be violent to women. Violence that could be almost imperceptible ill-treatment, like ignoring her or “giving her the silent treatment” as it is called colloquially, or could be extreme as killing her.

Gender perspective” is a position or point of view that allows us to see how men and women develop within society in a wide panorama.

Humans have been classified by their natural characteristics, like their sex, which refers to their male or female biology. However, it has often been assumed that the different and sometimes opposing ways in which men and women behave, feel and think are natural. That is to say that a man is expected to be independent, strong, dominant, aggressive and self-assured; he doesn’t get carried away by his emotions; he undertakes most of his activities in public, etc. Meeting those expectations would therefore confirm his masculine gender. In the case of the feminine gender it is expected that she will be dependent (on her father, brothers or partner), sensitive, submissive, caring and helpful and that she will undertake most of her activities in private (at home), etc. Even so, it has been shown that –independent of biological sex– humans have the capacity or can develop the ability to undertake activities apparently opposed to their sex. As a result, it has been claimed that gender roles, far from being natural, are socially constructed by the culture in which we live.

The arbitrary assignation of these gender roles and their rigid and inflexible application has given the male gender superiority over the female. As a result, it limits women to such an extent that it puts her at a disadvantage. Women are less capable of doing things, that’s to say, that have less power to control a situation and obviously, less power over themselves. An organization has been established in which gender-based differences are used to justify undervaluing women. She is placed in an unequal position, she is inferior and subordinate.

The above explains, then, the context of the discrimination in which the female gender has been historically placed. The figures relating to violence against women show this; in Chihuahua 8 out of 10 women have suffered some kind of violence (Institute for Women in Chiuhuahua, 2008). It is evident how physical, emotional and economic violence in private and in public is used to control and keep women under masculine hegemony.

Thus, using “gender perspective” allows us to make visible how the female gender has been historically -and still is today- in a position of inferiority. This position allows us to recognize that our biological differences should not justify inequality between genders, and stop us naturalizing and normalizing violence against women.

For this reason, gender perspective is important to permit us to avoid the types of violence that could end up with fatal consequences, like the murder of women.

The number of women murdered in the state of Chihuahua carries on rising: between January and November of this year, there have been 233 violent homicides of women, according to our daily study of newspapers. Moreover, 219 women have gone missing since 1994 to the present (FGECHI, 2011).

For more information telephone: +52 (614) 413-33-55

psicología@justiciaparanuestrashijas.org

www.justiciaparanuestrashijas.blogspot.com//Twt
@JPNH01

Web Page consulted:

FGECH, http://fiscalia.chihuahua.gob.mx/; Mujeres, niños y niñas extraviados; consulted on 15 November 2011

PRESS RELEASE DECEMBER 2011

  • What should you do if a woman or girl disappears?
  • There have been 342 femicides in Chihuahua state so far this year
  • There are 207 active reports of women and girls going missing so far in 2011

It is well known that in our state of Chihuahua the disappearance of women is everyday news. Since January this year there have been 207 reports of women going missing according to the Chihuahua State Prosecutor’s Office. It is for this reason that the actions taken during the first 24 hours that a woman or girl has gone missing –for example, not arrived home from school, work or a meeting after her workday is done– are crucial when looking for her. In this statement Justicia para Nuestras Hijas would like to make public a guide to taking action that could help the prompt localization of a lost loved one:

  1. The first thing that you should do when a woman or girl has disappeared is go to place a report at the “Unidad Especializada de Personas Ausentes o Extraviadas” (Special Unit for Missing or Lost Persons), which is located between street 25 and Teófilo Borunda street in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua. Here you will deal with a functionary of the Prosecutor’s Office (known as the Ministerio Público or MP), who will make the report. The report should contain basic details, such as:
    1. The full name of the missing person, their age, physical characteristics (hair, eye and skin color, complexion, height, etc.), as well as any distinguishing marks they might have, like a mole or a scar. Try to remember what the person was wearing the last time you saw her.
    2. A photo of the missing person to leave with the Prosecutor’s Office for use in their report (this should be distributed immediately to bus stations, toll booths, airports etc.).
    3. You should also say where the person was last seen and her cellular phone number, if she was carrying one. This last detail is very important, as it can be used to locate the missing person, as will be explained in step 4.

  2. You must inform the Prosecutor’s Office about the people the missing person generally associated with, where she liked to go etc. If she is still at school, you should mention the school, the names of her teachers, classmates and friends. If she works, you should mention the names of her coworkers. In fact, you should try and give all the names, telephone numbers and addresses of the people she was with just before she went missing. You should ask the Prosecutor’s Office that these people be interviewed immediately. Any detail of her disappearance, however minor or vague it might seem, should be made known to the authorities, as they can be very important in helping localize the missing person.

  3. This is what the initial report contains. The person who makes the report should be given a copy and it is important to note the folder number –which should be a two digit number- and the year in which the report is being made. It is also imperative to note the name of the functionary who took down the report and to immediately obtain an asignación de la unidad; that is to say, that the case be referred to a team of two ministerial police who will take charge of the investigation. You should be given their names and contact details, including the telephone number of the Prosecutor’s Office and the policemen’s extension numbers so you can get in touch with them). After this, these two agents should get in contact with the person making the report as soon as possible, in one or two hours at most. If this doesn’t happen you have the right to telephone them to ask them to take action to investigate the case.

  4. As has already been mentioned, the cellular telephone number is very important as it can be used to find the missing person’s approximate location. In order for this to be done, you must insist that the cellular phones’ antenna is located. This information can ascertain the whereabouts of the person, or if she has already left town. Another thing you should ask for is that the persons’ cell phone records be analyzed right up until the day she went missing. This can provide valuable information about who she was in contact with and unknown numbers can be traced by the Police Investigation Unit to find out who they belong to. Once this information is known, it might be possible to find out who else the person was in contact with and establish a network of contacts which can help determine the direction of the investigation.

  5. Another recourse you can ask for is the Alba Protocol, although this is not very well established in Chihuahua. This Protocol requires that all relevant bodies be put on alert to look for the missing person.

  6. You should maintain uninterrupted dialogue with the investigative police. Make sure that you get documentary evidence of all that you ask for. This way you can keep track of what has or has not been done, demand that something is done, or complain if it was done badly.

    It is thought that if these basic steps are followed between the first three or six hours that a person is missing, many women and young girls will be immediately found. This way many of the femicides, which often begin with the kidnapping of a woman or girl can be avoided. Sadly this year (up until 13 December) Justicia para Nuestras Hijas has already counted 342 violent murders of women in our State.

    For more information, please contact: tel. +52 (614) 413-33-55

    internacional@justiciaparanuestrashijas.org

    www.justiciaparanuestrashijas.blogspot.com//Twt@JPNH01

    PRESS RELEASE JANUARY 2012

    Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico 17 February 2012

    Communication 02/12

  • In response to pression from Human Rights Organizations and a recommendation from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Report 87/10: Case: Caso Paloma Angélica Escobar Ledezma and others) the Mexican government creates the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Women Victims of Crimes Relating to Their Gender (Fiscalía Especializada en Atención a Mujeres Víctimas de Delito por Razones de Género)

17 February 2010. Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico. – As a consequence of several recommendations from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, on 7 February this year, the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Women Victims of Crimes Relating to Gender (Fiscalía Especializada en Atención a Mujeres Víctimas de Delito por Razones de Género) was created. The recommendations came in a case presented to the Court by Justicia para Nuestras Hijas and other organizations in relation to Paloma Angélica Escobar Ledezma, who disappeared on 2 March 2002, and whose dead body was found 27 days later on the highway between Chihuahua City and Aldama.

Norma Ledezma, Paloma’s mother and coordinator of Justicia para Nuestras Hijas, stated that “the new prosecutor’s office faces the challenge of reducing the rates of impunity surrounding gender crimes and [must] resolve the –at least- 16 murders of women in the State of Chihuahua that our organization has documented during the first month of this year alone. Moreover, [it must resolve] the hundreds of femicides that have been registered in previous years, including that of my daughter.”

The Special Prosecutor’s Office principal remit is to investigate the cases of women who were murdered because of their gender (“femicide”); situations that attack women’s liberty and their sexuality; as well as domestic violence, amongst other things.

Justicia para Nuestras Hijas will monitor and closely follow the work of this new Prosecutor’s Office in order to analyze its efficiency in the light of the fact that violence against women remains alarming. During the first month of this year, a woman was murdered in State of Chihuahua every two days.

For more information contact: Tel. +52 (614) 413-33-55

comunicacion@justiciaparanuestrashijas.org

www.justiciaparanuestrashijas.blogspot.com//Twt@JPNH01

Filed under: Human Rights in Mexico, Justicia Para Nuestras Hijas, Violence Against Women, , , , , , ,

Norma Andrade, Activist who Works to Find Missing and Kidnapped Women, Attacked for Second Time

Yesterday at about 9am, Norma Esther Andrade, one of the cofounders of the charity Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (“May Our Daughters Return Home”), was attacked by a man with a knife at her home in Mexico City. She is currently in hospital in a serious condition. This is the second time Andrade has been attacked. On 2 December 2011, she was shot repeatedly outside her home in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. She was later discharged from hospital after a couple of days because death threats were made to those treating her. Andrade subsequently moved to Mexico City for her own safety and was supposed to be under police protection at the time of this second attack.

Norma Andrade cofounded Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa in 2001 after her daughter, Lilia Alejandra García Andrade, was kidnapped in Ciudad Juárez. Her body was later found in a field, strangled and with signs of having been severely tortured. The aim of the organization is to bring the situation in Juárez and Chihuahua to the attention of the world and to campaign for improvements to Mexico’s justice system to ensure that those responsible for these types of crimes are punished. (For more details on the murder of women in Chihuahua see my post here. For a discussion of femicide in a Mexican context see another post here).

Andrade and the other founders of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa have received death threats since 2002. In 2008 the InterAmerican Commission of Human Rights directed the Mexican government to provide protection for Andrade and three other members of her organization. However, in September last year they were warned to leave Juárez immediately or be killed. Andrade was attacked in December and now, for a second time, in Mexico City. Under these circumstances, Amnesty International has issued a statement indicating that they believe her life to be in immediate danger.

There is currently a petition circulating on Twitter which asks the Mexican President, Felipe Calderón, to ensure that Norma Andrade receives the protection she requires. If the Mexican state is incapable of finding those responsible for her daughter’s murder, it is the least it can do to protect her from suffering the same fate. As I have occasion to mention in other posts, too many activists have already been killed for daring to search for their daughters. It has to stop. Not one more.

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

DECLARATION BY THE NATIONAL REUNION OF FEMALE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN MEXICO, 14-16 OCTOBER 2010

This is a translation of the declaration issued by the National Reunion of Female Human Rights Activists in Mexico on 16 October 2010:

“We, more than sixty female human rights’ activists, from twenty of Mexico’s states and from diverse sectors and social movements declare the following:

1. Our work and commitment to human rights’ sustains, nurtures and reconstructs democracy, the rule of law and the development of decent life opportunities for the whole of society. Particularly, our actions favour liberty, citizen’s access to justice and the end to discrimination against women. As a result, the state, society, human rights’ organizations and our own organizations must recognize, strengthen and support our contributions as female human rights’ activists.

2. We are facing a failed state that has renounced its obligation to guarantee the population’s rights; one which, on repeated occasions, has used public institutions and funds to attack, criminalize and undermine our work. In this context, it has limited our ability to exercise our citizenship and has aggravated the patriarchal, misogynist culture that discriminates against women; the impunity, corruption and the worsening of violence against women; the undermining of the secular nature of the state; the violation of human rights committed by soldiers in their new role as functionaries of public security; and the protection of private interest that attack social and economic rights, among other things.

3. Female human rights activists are at increased risk of attack in all of the Mexican Republic, particularly those in the states of Chihuahua, Monterrey [sic] [1], Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero. As are activists who denounce feminicidio (femicide); those who run and work in shelters for female victims of domestic violence; those who denounce the army’s violations of human rights; those who defend women’s reproductive autonomy; those who defend the family members of the “disappeared”, persecuted or detained for political reasons; those who defend indigenous rights; and those who work in the Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual and Transgender movements.

4. Threats, police raids, defamation of character, violence, sexual torture, judicial persecution, attacks on family members, murder and extrajudicial executions are some of the ways we have been attacked for being female and for our work in defending human rights. These aggressions have been carried out by federal and local authorities, as well as by private individuals and de facto powers that operate thanks to the tolerance and complicity of the authorities; such as, traffickers of women and children, drug gangs, transnational companies, religious hierarchies, conservative and paramilitary groups and local caciques (local strongmen).

5. The impunity with which these aggressions are perpetrated is alarming; it sustains the culture of violence against female human rights’ activists. In the face of this situation, it is urgent that the Mexican state assume its responsibility to ensure their safety, protection and support. This necessitates the investigation and prosecution of the culprits behind these threats, acts of hostility and attacks that we have been subject to as female human rights activists. Society for its part, and especially, Human Rights movements and our own organizations ought to better the conditions in which we carry out our work, providing us with the necessary resources and support.

6. The gravity of the attacks and the high risk field in which we operate, has led to dozens of activists to petition the Inter American Commission for Human Rights to award them protective measures. However, such measures, despite being accepted by the Mexican government, are not implemented properly. The authorities which should guarantee their implementation impose an excessive and unnecessary burden of bureaucracy on the activists, they do not provide sufficient coordination with federal and state authorities, and take very little account of individual needs. Often they hamper the imposition of protective measures, causing their erosion and increasing the vulnerability of the activists. We denounce the fact that our colleague, Margarita Guadalupe Martínez from the organization “Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación, A. C” (Chiapas), who has been living with protective measures since March of this year, has been unable to attend this meeting because the Mexican state was unable to guarantee her safe passage to Mexico City.

7. The Mexican state must recognize its obligations in the matter of the protection of female human rights activists. This means fully complying with the Inter American Court of Human Rights’ ruling on the feminicidios in Ciudad Juárez, and the rape of two indigenous women by soldiers in Guerrero. Complying with the observations of the CEDAW [2] committee in matters relating to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, which should lead to the abolition of any regulation limiting a women’s right to choose over her own body. And, modifying the current legislation to ensure that the civilian tribunals are the only ones permitted to investigate, prosecute and punish soldiers who infringe human rights and fundamental liberties.

Human rights’ activists in Mexico are a motor for the transformation of society and represent the hope for the full exercise of human rights and fundamental liberties for all, men and women alike.

LET US ALL RAISE OUR VOICES TO RECOGNISE AND PROTECT FEMALE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS’ WORK AND THEIR STRUGGLE IN MEXICO.

JUSTICE, TRUTH AND COMPENSATION FOR THE MURDERS OF ACTIVISTS DIGNA OCHOA, GRISELDO TIRADO, BETY CARIÑO AND JOSEFINA REYES.

SIGNED:

Laura Gutiérrez (MUGAC, Baja California, Tecate), Silvia Vázquez Camacho (Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos A.C., Baja California, Tijuana), Blanca Mesina (Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción para Regreso a Casa A.C, Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez), Ileana Espinoza (Red Mesa de Mujeres Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez), Verónica Juárez A.C., Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez), Emilia González (Comisión de Solidaridad y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, A. C., Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez), Lucha Castro Rodríguez (Centro de Derechos de las Mujeres A.C. Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez), Martha Graciela Ramos Carrasco (Mujeres por México en Chihuahua A.C., Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez), Margarita Guadalupe Martínez Martínez (ENLACE, Comunicación y Capacitación, A.C., Chiapas), Martha Figueroa (Grupo de mujeres de San Cristóbal de las Casas A.C., Chiapas, San Cristobal), Diana Damián (Municipio Autónomo Zapatista, Chiapas), Ana Karen López Quintana (Tamaulipas Diversidad y VIHDA Trans A.C., Tamaulipas, Tampico), Alicia Leal Puertas (Alternativas Pacíficas A.C., Nuevo León, Monterrey), Consuelo Morales (Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos, A.C., Nuevo León, Monterrey), Angélica Araceli Reveles Soto (CLADEM‐México, Jalisco, Guadalajara), Guadalupe López García (Lesbianas en Patlatonalli A. C., Jalisco, Guadalajara), Dora Ávila (Centro para los derechos de la Mujer Nääxwiin, Red Nacional de Promotoras y Asesoras Rurales, Oaxaca, Matías Romero), Beatriz Teresa Casas Arellanes (BARCA, Oaxaca), Emelia Ortiz García (Campaña “Si no están ellas no estamos todas”, Oaxaca, Región Triqui), Beatriz Hernández (Círculo Profesional para la Formación con Equidad de Género ¡Ndudxa Ndandi!, Oaxaca, Tlaxiaco), Edita Alavez Ruiz (UNOSJO, Mujeres Organizadas Yuubani, Oaxaca, Guelatao), Ana María Hernández (Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca, Oaxaca), Theres Hoechli (Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca, Oaxaca), Yessica Maya Sánchez (Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca, Oaxaca), Nadia Altamirano Díaz (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer AC., Oaxaca), Leticia Burgos (Red Feminista Sonorense, Sonora, Ciudad Obregón), Sandra Peniche (Servicios Humanitarios en Salud Sexual y Reproductiva, Yucatán, Mérida), Espinoza Núñez (Zacatecas), Nora Isabel Bucio Nava (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer AC., Morelos, Cuernavaca), María del María del Montserrat Díaz (Colectivo Feminista de Xalapa A.C., Veracruz, Xalapa), Ofelia Cesareo Sánchez (Coordinadora Guerrense de Mujeres Indígenas y Afromexicana, Guerrero, Chilpancingo), Silvia Castillo Salgado (Instituto Guerrerense de Derechos Humanos A.C., Guerrero, Chilpancingo), Obtilia Eugenio Manuel (OPIM, Guerrero), Andrea Eugenio Manuel (OPIM, Guerrero), Soledad Eugenio (OPIM, Guerrero), Cristina Hardaga Fernández (Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, Guerrero, Tlapa), Carolina Cantú (Coordinadora Guerrense de Mujeres Indígenas y Afromexicanas, Guerrero, Tlacopa), Georgina Vargas Vera (Centro de Derechos Humanos Victoria Díez A.C. Guanajuato, León), Verónica Cruz (Las Libres A.C. Guanajuato, León), María Trinidad Ramírez (Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra, Estado de México, San Salvador Atenco), Martha (D.F.), Yunuhen Rangel (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer AC., DF), Lucía Lagunes Huerta (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer , DF), Cirenia Celestino Ortega (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer , DF), Alejandra Ancheita Pagaza (Proyecto Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales, DF), Elga Aguilar (Comité Cerezo México, DF), Eréndira Tania Ramírez Hernández (HIJOS, DF), Josefina Chávez (Cuadernos Feministas, PRT, DF), Andrea de la Barrera Montpellier Medina Rosas (Red Mesa de Mujeres de Ciudad Juárez A.C., D.F.), Orfe Castillo (D.F.), Laura García Coudurier (Sociedad AC, D.F.), Carmen Morales (Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer AC, D.F.), Alejandra González (Tlachinollan, D.F.), Irma Estrada Martínez (Tribunal Internacional de Conciencia, DF) [2].”

[1] Monterrey is the capital of the state of Nuevo León.

[2] The Committe for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. This is part of the UN Commission for Human Rights. See their webpage,

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/index.htm

[3] The original Spanish text can be found at: http://filesocial.com/na2dj64

Filed under: Human Rights in Mexico, , , , ,

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