Hiding Under the Bed Is Not the Answer

Murdered Because They Were Women or Because They Were Journalists?

Ana María Marcela Yarce Viveros and Rocío González Trápaga

 Ana María Marcela Yarce Viveros, journalist for the magazine Contralínea, and Rocío González Trápaga, freelance journalist and once a reporter on one of Mexico’s biggest television channels, Televisa, were found dead in a park in Mexico City by an early-morning jogger on Thursday. The two women had been strangled; they were discovered naked with their hands and feet tied and rope around their necks. It still is not clear why they were murdered. Yarce Viveros was close friends with González Trápaga; they were last seen having coffee together at quarter to ten on Wednesday night outside the offices of Contralínea.

 This story has made the headlines in Mexico and other countries for a number of reasons. The first is the fact that both women were journalists: according to a variety of sources, including a UN report from last year and information gathered by the NGO Reporters Without Borders, Mexico is the most dangerous place to be a journalist in the American continent. Eight reporters have been killed in 2011 alone and somewhere between 74 and 80 in the last decade. Violence against reporters seems to be one of the consequences of Mexico’s struggle with the drug cartels; although there also well-documented cases of intimidation and violence employed by rich and powerful citizens against journalists they perceive as a threat (see my previous blog post here). Those murdered by the gangs generally show signs of torture or mutilation postmortem. According to reports made by the Mexico City authorities up until now, Yarce Viveros or González Trápaga had also suffered gunshot wounds prior to death, but it isn’t clear how these were received.

    The second reason that this story appears to have made headlines is that the Public Prosecutor in Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera has indicated that the crimes will be investigated as “femicide” (feminicidio) or, as the Associated Press has translated it, “gender crimes”. This class of crime has only been recently adopted in Mexico City and is still quite controversial. Briefly it defines femicide as the murder of women, whose bodies’ present signs of sexual abuse and/or mutilation prior to death or postmortem or have been dumped in a public place. Women whose murderers later prove to be relations or (ex)partners, or whose killers can be showed to have previously made threats against the victim should also be classified this way. The circumstances in which the women’s corpses were dumped –tied up and left naked in a public park– oblige the Mexico City police to investigate their murder in this way. However, thus far the authorities have not commented that the women’s bodies evidence that they were tortured or sexually abused before their deaths. (You can see my other posts on the subject of feminicidio in Mexico here and here).

    So were Yarce Viveros and González Trápaga murdered for their work as journalists or targeted simply for being women? So far the evidence points to the former: it appears both women had been writing a story about the real estate business in Mexico for prominent broker, Víctor Javier Perera Calero, who was also murdered three days before the women disappeared. It is likely that the fact that they were women merely determined the manner in which the murderers decided to dispose of the bodies.

English sources:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/02/mexican-journalists-found-dead

http://www.sfexaminer.com/news/2011/09/gender-crime-seen-2-mexican-womens-deaths

http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2011/09/mexican-journalists-murders-to-be-investigated-as-gender-crimes/

http://en.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=40912

http://www.cpj.org/reports/2010/09/silence-or-death-in-mexicos-press.php

http://blogs.mcclatchydc.com/mexico/2011/06/impunity-for-killing-journalists.html

Spanish sources:

http://www.milenio.com/cdb/doc/noticias2011/08bdd7d4361766ee8c1399eb86c06862

http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=280289

http://www.amecopress.net/spip.php?article7593

http://www.milenio.com/cdb/doc/impreso/9019452

Filed under: 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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