Hiding Under the Bed Is Not the Answer

Three Years in Prison Without Trial

Virginia, a young indigenous women from Guerrero, suffered a miscarriage in 2009. Since then she has been in prison in Huamuxtitlan, Guanajuato, charged with murder. There has never been an autopsy to determine the cause of fetal death. All judicial proceedings against Virginia have been carried in out in Spanish and she was not offered a translator who could explain proceeding in her native Nahuatl. Neither did she have access to a defense lawyer who could speak her language.

In January this year, thanks to the work of the NGO Las Libres and the volunteer law students from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE) in Mexico City, a federal judge ruled that her human rights had not been respected. In the light of the fact that there was no evidence to support the charge against her, the judge also ordered that she should be released. However, this has not happened. Instead, the local judge re-issued a warrant for her arrest on the same charges.

Verónica Cruz, director of Las Libres, told news agencies that this new warrant was a “reprisal” against Virginia for exposing the abuses committed by the judicial authorities in Huamuxtitlan. She also observed that her plight was the result of the “triple discrimination” Virginia has been subjected to in the judicial process as a poor, indigenous woman.

As I reported last week, this “triple discrimination” is sadly the norm for the Mexican justice system. However, in the case of Virginia, there is also a further difficulty. Guanajuato is one of the most conservative states in Mexico. It was one of the first states to reform its constitution in 2010 in to declare that the right to life began at conception. As I reported recently, its governor has openly opposed federal directives which oblige health service providers to grant abortions to women who have suffered sexual assault.

Guanajuato has a long track record of imprisoning women for miscarriages and still-births. As is the case with Virginia, the strategy of the judicial authorities is to charge them with murder –which can be punished with sentences as long as 25 years– rather than for procuring an abortion, which has a five-year tariff. Two years ago, Las Libres and students from the CIDE law school successfully championed the cases of six women who had been in prison for as long as eight years. Like Virginia they were convicted of murder after losing their pregnancies. None of the women jailed had actually procured an abortion; rather each one had suffered a miscarriage, which due to family circumstances, poverty and/or ignorance they had tried to conceal. Once they had been forced to seek medical attention, one of the people who attended them (doctor/social worker) had then made the accusation with the relevant authorities. All of the women were from the poorest areas of the state and lived in conditions of poverty and social marginalization. They were unable to neither defend themselves personally against such charges nor pay someone competent to do it for them.

Cruz is certain that Virginia can be absolved if only the judicial process could be concluded. The fact that she is merely charged and not formally sentenced means that there is a limit to what her defense lawyers are able to do. It is evident that the local authorities in Huamuxtitlan know this and are purposely dragging their feet to stall the case being sentenced. As a result, Virigina has now been in prison for three years.

As I wrote last week, life is extremely difficult inside prison for women such as Virginia who don’t speak Spanish and are far away from home and access to support networks. It is testament to the deep misogyny of Mexican society that its most vulnerable women are treated in this way.

An edited version of this article was published on e-feminist

Filed under: Human Rights in Mexico, Maternal Health, Violence Against Women, Women's Right to Choose, , , , , ,

Are Racism, Poverty and Prejudice the Underlying Causes of Maternal Mortality in Mexico?

Mexico has a poor record in tackling the problem of high levels of maternal mortality. Research and associated statistics demonstrate the underlying problems of this issue are racism, poverty and a widespread prejudice against abortion. It seems clear that the government will be unable to successfully reduce the rates of maternal mortality unless these questions are addressed.


This post has been published as part of blogger Salt and Caramel’s blog hop about the importance of access to maternal health services and contraception. Join here: http://saltandcaramel.com/people-not-numbers/

(You can see her Twitter profile here)

Maternal Mortality Rates in Mexico

International research shows that the overwhelming majority of maternal deaths can have been avoided through prompt medical attention. For this reason, maternal mortality rates are considered to be a indicator of access to health services and their quality. Basic measures requires to reduce maternal mortality include: access to contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy; easy access to emergency obstetric care in case of complications; as well as qualified and respectful care from health care providers.

When Mexico signed up forthe UN’s Millennium Development Goals in 2007, the government promised to work to towards achieving a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 22.3 deaths for every 100, 000 births. However, it is far from reaching this target, the MMR was 57.2 in 2008, 62.2 in 2009 and 51.5 in 2010 [1]. Maternal morality is the fourth most likely cause of death amongst women in Mexico, only more die in traffic accidents (10%), suicide (8.5%) and murder (7%) [2].

According to IPAS, the MMR rate in Mexico is determined by the following factors:

  1. Ethnicity: indigenous women are at higher risk than any other group (see below).
  2. Level of Education: the less education a women has received the more at risk she from dying of a complication relating to pregnancy.
  3. Access to health services: around one in three women who die during pregnancy have no access to state health services. A further 39.2% only have access to basic state services (called Seguro Popular, or People’s Insurance).
  4. Age: women at both ends of their reproductive lives are more at risk of maternal mortality [3].

Maternal Mortality Amongst Indigenous Women in Mexico

According to the Observatorio de Mortalidad Maternal (Maternal Mortality Watchdog), 14% of Mexican women who died in 2010 as a result of their pregnancy were indigenous women. This global figure is small because that the indigenous population is not evenly distributed throughout the Mexican Republic. States with large indigenous populations like Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca have the highest mortality rates in Mexico; they are home to around 20% of all maternal deaths in Mexico. In Guerrero and Oaxaca around half the maternal deaths occur amongst indigenous women [4].

Indigenous women are most likely to be unable to access full public health services during their pregnancy. In fact, around 20% of indigenous women who died from complications related to pregnancy had no access at all to public health services. It is estimated, furthermore, that indigenous women are the group most unlikely to receive contraceptive education or products. They are also more likely to begin sexual activity at a young age (national average is 18 years old, amongst indigenous women it is 16) and typically become pregnant within in a year of having sexual relations. Indigenous women also have on average more children than other Mexican women (3.23 as opposed to the national average of 2.1) [5]. Finally, they also have more difficulty acquiring reliable contraception. In Guerrero it has been estimated that there is a unmet contraceptive need of up to 25.8%, for example [6].

Teenage pregnancy in Mexico

In Mexico, 83% of all cases of hospitalisation amongst young women between 10 and 19 years old are related to pregnancy. In the case of girls between 10 and 14 years of age, one out of every three cases are a result of pregnancy. By the age of twenty, around half the female population has at least one child [7].

Teenage pregnancy is a particular feature of Mexico’s northern states (San Luis Potosi, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua especially). IPAS calculates that between 20 and 30% of maternal deaths occur amongst teenagers in these states. One of the reasons for the large numbers of teenage pregnancies in Mexico is due the low use of contraception amongst this age group (40% as opposed to a national average of 70.9%). This is, in itself due to poor sexual education and an inadequate distribution of contraception [8].

Unsafe
Abortion As A Risk Factor

The NGO Maternidad sin riesgo (Risk Free Maternity) estimates that there are approximately 4, 200, 000 pregnancies in Mexico each year, of which only 60% are carried to term. The rest end in abortion, miscarriages or still birth [9]. The Guttmacher Institute reckons that 19% of Mexican women will end a pregnancy at least once during her reproductive life [10]. Abortion is severely restricted in most parts of Mexico, except in certain circumstances such as rape and even then can be difficult to obtain). Only the capital, Mexico City, permits elective abortion up to 12 weeks. As a result, the vast majority of abortions in Mexico are carried out in unsafe conditions by unqualified people.

Officially, complications due to abortion in Mexico make up between 6 and 7% of all maternal mortality deaths. However, the World Health Organisation calculates that maternal mortality related to abortion accounts for 13% of worldwide deaths and 24% in Latin America. Recent research published in Mexico suggests that deaths related to abortion are generally not reported as such, but rather classified as haemorrhages or infections [11]. This can be explained by the fact that abortion is not generally accepted in Mexico and women who are accused of procuring an abortion can face murder charges and life imprisonment. It would seem likely that health care providers often prefer to turn a blind eye to abortion related deaths in many cases.

Public Health Policies

The Mexican government has undertaken a number of policies in its attempt to reduce maternal mortality in Mexico. For example, it has instigated a programme which aims to provide free healthcare in pregnancy to all women, even those without public health insurance. It has attempted to increase the number of healthcare professionals available and even taken up schemes to train lay midwives.

However, the problem remains grave. The NGO IPAS, for example, considers that the issue is not the lack of public policy, but rather their inadequate realisation by state health authorities. It also complains that money destined for maternal health programmes is not always properly distributed and that investment from the government is falling [12]. Those groups which work with indigenous women insist that healthcare professionals should be trained to offer respectful and dignified care; most importantly, explications, diagnosis and treatment should be offered in indigenous languages. Cultural sensitivities should also be respected during examinations [13].

In conclusion, therefore, it would seem evident that Mexico’s high maternal mortality rate is a result of inadequate care offered to the most vulnerable sectors of society: the poor, who don’t have health insurance; the young, whose access to contraception and sexual education is limited and, above all indigenous women, who usually feature in the first two categories also, and who are unable to access health services in a language they can understand.

Fuentes

[1] Presentation given by IPAS Mexico on 9 May 2012 in a press conference organized by Coalición para la Salud de las Mujeres (Coalition for Women’s Health). Full test is available here: http://www.fundar.org.mx/mexico/pdf/mmrsipas.pdf

[2] “En 18 años, murieron más de 3 mil niñas por causas maternas”, article at CIMAC Noticias, 14 April 2011, http://www.cimacnoticias.com.mx/site/11041406-En-18-anos-muriero.46785.0.html

[3] http://www.fundar.org.mx/mexico/pdf/mmrsipas.pdf

[4] http://www.omm.org.mx/index.php/indicadores.html

[5] Powerpoint presentation given by Lina Rosa Berrío Palomo of the NGO, Kinal Antzetik, Mexico, DF. Available here: http://fundar.org.mx/clases/destacado/post-1

[6] Octavio Mojarro Dávila y Doroteo Mendoza Victoriano, “Tendencias y cambios en las políticas contraceptivas en México y el mundo. ¿Qué hemos logrado y adónde se pretende llegar?” in Salud pública de México, no. 49 (edición especial), pp. 238-240. Available here: http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/pdf/106/10649089.pdf

[7] http://www.fundar.org.mx/mexico/pdf/mmrsipas.pdf

[8] http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/pdf/106/10649089.pdf

[9] R. Lozano, B. Hernández, y A. Langer, “Factores sociales y económicos de la mortalidad materna en México,” en: A. Langer (ed.)Maternidad sin Riesgos en México, México,Comité Promotor de la Iniciativa por una Maternidad sin Riesgos en México/Instituto Mexicano de Estudios Sociales, 1994. pp. 43-52.

[10] “Population Council. Datos sobre el aborto inducido en México,” Mexico, Alan Guttmacher Institute/Colegio de México, 2006. Available here: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2008/10/01/FIB_IA_Mexico_

[11] Sonia B. Fernández Cantón, Gonzalo Gutiérrez Trujillo, y Ricardo Viguri Uribe, “La mortalidad materna y el aborto en México,” in Boletín de Medicina del Hospital Infantil Mexicano, vol. 69, no. 1, 2012, pp. 77-80. Available here: http://www.medigraphic.com/pdfs/bmhim/hi-2012/hi121k.pdf

[12] http://www.fundar.org.mx/mexico/pdf/mmrsipas.pdf

[13] Powerpoint presentation given by Lina Rosa Berrío Palomo of the NGO, Kinal Antzetik, Mexico, DF. Available here: http://fundar.org.mx/clases/destacado/post-1

Filed under: Feminism, Violence Against Women, Women's Right to Choose, , ,

Judge in Mexico Overturns 23-Year Prison Sentence of Mother Accused of “Murdering” her Fetus

This is a post about good news. On Thursday an appeal judge in Mexicali, Baja California released Lesly Karina Díaz Zamora, 21, who had been sentenced to a 23 year prison term in January on the charge of “murder by a relative” (homicidio por razón de parentesco) after suffering a spontaneous miscarriage. Díaz Zamora had already spent two years in remand without bail prior to this. Details can be found about the charges and the campaign in favour of her release in my previous posts here and here. (An additional report in English from the online newspaper MexicoPerspective.com can be also found on their website). After considering the case for appeal the judge ruled that Díaz Zamora had no charges to answer and ordered her to be immediately exonerated and released. It can only be hoped that this young women, who already has a five-year old child, will be able to rebuild her life after such a traumatic ordeal and will not have to go on suffering the prejudices of a society which labelled her a murderer on the most flimsy of evidence.

Unfortunately, many more women are in Díaz Zamora’s situation in Baja California and other states in Mexico. As I have documented, it is a sadly common practise in Mexico to prosecute women for the charge of “murder by relative” if they are suspected of having an abortion. This is because the law does not allow prolonged custodial sentences for abortion, while the charge of murder can be punished with sentences of up to 25 years, as was the case for Díaz Zamora. Freeing these women must be our next priority.

Filed under: Feminism, Human Rights in Mexico, Women's Right to Choose, , , ,

Abortion and Maternal Mortality in Mexico

On 13 April 2011 activists celebrated the fourth anniversary of the legalisation of Abortion in Mexico’s Federal District, better known as Mexico City (México DF). The voluntary interruption of pregnancy is not permitted in any other Mexican states except in special circumstances, such as rape or if the mother’s life is in danger. However, it is extremely difficult to obtain an abortion even in these cases, as the case of Paulina Ramírez Jacinta illustrated in 1999 [1]. As I have had cause to note in this blog [2] [3] [4], the practices and attitudes prevalent amongst healthcare workers and in the Mexican judicial system as a whole, ensure that any pregnancy that ends before it comes to term is looked at with suspicion. Women have been and are being prosecuted after suffering miscarriage or stillbirth. Worse still, they are usually charged with murder rather than abortion, as this allows the courts to impose more severe penalties on the “offenders”; usually prison terms of 20 years or more. This obviously discourages women from seeking medical attention when they suffer a miscarriage.

As elsewhere, the hostility to abortion in Mexico is linked to opposition to contraception and the unwillingness to condone any sexual behaviour that does not seek reproduction. This is especially true in relation to adolescents. As a result, Mexico is faces the following situation:

1) There are an estimated 102, 000 to 553, 100 abortions every year.

2) Nationally, one woman dies every nine days as a result of undergoing an unsafe abortion. In DF where abortion is legal, this figure is one woman every 52 days or 7 every year.

3)83% of public hospital admissions for female teenagers in the 10 to 19 age-range are due to complications relating to pregnancy.

4) 27.9% of this group are girls from the 10 to 14 age-range. This accounts for one in three of every hospital admission for girls aged 10 to 14.

5) In 2009, the fertility-rate for female adolescents in the 15 to 19 age-range was 70. 4 children for every 1,000 inhabitants.

6) Maternal mortality is the fourth cause of death for women in Mexico (after traffic accidents, murder and suicide).

Maternal mortality is particularly prevalent in the poorer rural regions of Mexico: the southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas play host 20% of all maternal deaths, for example (see my post here); although, the state with the worst track record is that of president hopeful Enrique Peña Nieto: the central State of Mexico (see other posts about Peña Nieto here and here). The hot spots of adolescent pregnancy can be found in the states boarding the USA, especially in the border towns with large migrant and would-be migrant populations. In Tamaulipas, for example, 15% of all pregnancies are to adolescent mothers; a disturbing number of whom are girls under 15, while some are as young as 12.

[1] Paulina Ramírez Jacinta was 14 when she was raped in the State of Baja California in 1999. Her parents reported the crime and obtained legal permission for their daughter to have an abortion. However, they could not find a doctor or hospital ready to perform the procedure.  As a result of the complaint made to the International Court of Human Rights, the Mexican Health Service has issued a directive (no. 046) which obliges health workers to provide an abortion to those who are legally entitled to one. See link here for more details.

[2] Mexico continues to lock up women for abortion and miscarriage

[3]  30 Women including a 12 year old girl prosecuted for procuring abortions in Puebla

[4] Women imprisoned for miscarriages in Mexico

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

Petition in Favour of the Release of Lesly: A Young Mother Imprisoned For 23 Years For Murder After Suffering a Miscarriage

As I reported last week, in Baja California, there are at least 14 women currently in prison on remand charged with murder after their pregnancies ended before gestation was complete. This number includes at least one woman who insists that she suffered a miscarriage. This woman, Lesly Karina Díaz Zamora, who is now 21, is already the mother of a five year old child (you can see a video –in Spanish– about the case here). Lesly was arrested at the hospital she had gone to looking for medical attention in the summer of 2008, and was later remanded in custody without bail. She was finally sentenced on 20 January to a 23 year custodial sentence after already having passed more than two years already in detention. She is currently appealing this sentence on the grounds that the prosecution were unable to prove intentionality and the investigation against her did not follow due process. The other accused face similar sentences and have also all been refused bail.

The maximum tariff allowed by Baja Californian law for the crime of abortion is 4 years. In common with the other women in prison, Lesly was accused of murder in accordance with the amendment of the state constitution that defines life as beginning at conception.

This week women’s right groups, led by the Red Iberoamericana Pro Derechos Humanos (Ibero American Network for Human Rights); the Federación de Mujeres Universitarias (Federation of University Women); the Coordinación Nacional de Mujeres por un Milenio Feminista de Baja California (National Coordination for a Feminist Millennium in Baja California); and the Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noroeste (Citizens’ Committee for Human Rights in the North-West) have undertaken a number of events to campaign for the release of Lesly.

At the moment they are circulating a petition to be presented to the governor of Baja California, José Guadaulpe Osuna Millán; the state’s Procurador General de Justicia (Chief Prosecuting Officer), Rommel Moreno Manjarrez; the Human Rights Commissioner for the State of Baja California, Heriberto García García; and the Prosecuting Officer for Mexicali, María Elena Andrade Ramírez to demand that Lesly be released on the grounds that her human rights were not respected during the investigation or her sentencing. The following is a translation of the petition:

 

We, the undersigned citizens and organizations wish to express our profound indignation at the persecution and criminalisation of Lesly, a 21 year-old young woman from Mexicali, who has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Punished for the crime of homicidio agravada por parentesco (aggravated murder by reason of relationship), Lesly’s case is yet one more of series in which women’s fundamental rights and liberties have been violated leading to their unjustified imprisonment. A recent example of this occurring is in the state of Guanajuato.

We are directing this petition to you as members of bodies involved in this injustice, since you should play a fundamental part in assuring that these offices respect Lesly’s right to equality and to freedom from discrimination.

As a result of the above, we make an urgent appeal for:

The Human Rights Commissioner for the State of Baja California, Heriberto García García to make the relevant recommendation for an inquiry into the human rights violations to which Lesly has been subjected.

The Prosecuting Officer for Mexicali, María Elena Andrade Ramírez to revise and investigate the sentence passed against Lesly in Mexicali by the presiding judge of its 4th District, taking into account the testimonies of abuse presented by lawyers acting in her defence.

The Governor of the state of Baja California, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, to do all that is in his power to order Lesly’s immediate release.

We wish to ensure that the Mexican state respects the secular nature and human rights enshrined in our Constitution; as well as the international treaties Mexico has signed concerning human rights.

Immediate freedom for Lesly!

Yours Sincerely,

 

You can add your signature to the petition here.

Filed under: Human Rights in Mexico, Women's Right to Choose, , , , , ,

MEXICO CONTINUES TO LOCK UP WOMEN FOR ABORTION AND MISCARRIAGE: 14 CASES IN BAJA CALIFORNIA ALONE

The recent law amendment submitted by state representative Bobby Franklin in Georgia which seeks to introduce a law creating “prenatal murder” which proposes to criminalise any “human involvement” in a miscarriage or abortion, and make it carry a penalty of life in prison or death has caused much comment in the US and UK. Feminists in both countries (and I imagine further afield as well) have united in their condemnation of such legislation (see here and here). Their rage is justified and necessary in my opinion. However, reading their twits, comments and blogs from my computer in Mexico I feel like entering I am entering another world. I hope I can argue that legislation of the kind proposed in Franklin is unlikely to make it to the statute books, not least because it is ill-thought out and unenforceable. In Mexico however, this type of legislation is already in existence. As I pointed out in my first blog post back in September, abortion is a hot topic here due to the reforms that have been undertaken in Mexico City, which introduced the legalisation of abortion during the first twelve weeks of gestation in 2007. Shortly after the measure became law, the President’s Office, the PGR and most depressingly of all, the National Commission for Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos), initiated proceedings in the Supreme Court of Justice (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, or SCJN) with the hope of having it declared unconstitutional on the grounds that (amongst other things) it was a violation of the unborn foetus’ life. Last year, the SCJN presented its verdict, rejecting all the petitions. It affirmed that life was not defined as starting at conception in the Federal Constitution and upheld the constitutional right of the DF government to legislate on such matters as abortion.

The most obvious consequence of the controversy has been the move by conservative groups in the rest of Mexico’s states to push for the reform of their individual constitutions to ensure that the articles which refer to the inhabitants right to life and/or the duty of the state to ensure that this right is protected, explicitly define life as beginning at conception. The objective is to ensure that laws such as that passed in DF are clearly unconstitutional in their states. So far, 18 of Mexico’s federal entities (comprising of 31 states and DF) have approved such reforms, including my home state of Tamaulipas (in December 2010). At the federal level, in 2009 the then governor of Veracruz state, Fidel Herrera submitted a proposed amendment to the constitution in-line with those already enacted in the states (“El derecho a la vida será garantizado por el Estado desde el momento de la concepción. La ley establecerá los casos de excepción a la protección de la vida del no nacido.” “The State will guarantee the right to life from the moment of conception. The circumstances in which the unborn [foetus] will not enjoy this right shall be defined by a separate law.”) This giving of rights to an unborn foetus means, just as in Frankin’s proposed reform, that an abortion is classed as murder; specifically, what the penal code determines as “murder by a relative” (homicidio por razón de parentesco). Sadly, this reform seems to confirm the already widespread practise in Mexico of prosecuting women suspected o abortion for murder, as this allows them to be given much longer custodial sentences.

A positive outcome of the reformist zeal against women who wish to end their pregnancies, has been the publicity awarded to the cases where women have already been prosecuted or are on remand for this act. As I reported in my aforementioned blog post in September, in Guanajuato six women were found to be serving prison sentences after having been accused of procuring an abortion. The women had not been sentenced for this “crime”, but rather for “murder by a relative.” Their sentences had been received long before the constitutional reforms and appear to show, as I mentioned previously, that it was already common practise to punish women for ending their pregnancy in this way. They were sentenced to up to of 20 years imprisonment. Another 30 women were facing similar charges. More distressingly still, it also emerged that four of these women had not actually had an abortion, but rather had suffered spontaneous miscarriages, which due to family circumstances, poverty and/or lack of education, they had tried to conceal. Once their condition had forced them to seek medical attention, one of the people treating them (doctor, nurse or social worker) had then made the accusation with the relevant authorities [see here and here]. The women were subsequently unable to neither defend themselves personally against such charges nor pay someone competent to do it for them. Some of the women involved have been in prison for eight years [see here and here]. All of them came from the most deprived regions of the state. As a result of the publicity, relentless campaigning by prochoice groups in Guanajuato and the help of lawyers from a Mexico City law school (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas or CIDE), the State Congress of Guanajuato passed a measure which reduces the sentence facing these women and should result in their immediate release. However, this does not mean that the women were declared innocent, nor has the law been modified to prevent prosecutions of this nature occurring in the future.

Unfortunately, in other states numerous women are still in jail for voluntarily and involuntarily ending their pregnancies. This is the case of Baja California, another state where, like Guanajuato, the conservative Partido de Acción Nacional (National Action Party or PAN) is a considerable political force. Here there are at least 14 women currently in prison on remand charged with “murder by relative”; all of whose pregnancies ended before gestation was complete. I put it this way because, just as in the case of Guanajuato, this number includes at least one woman who insists that she suffered a miscarriage. This woman, who was still at school when the alleged event took place, was finally sentenced on 20 January to a 23 year custodial sentence after having passed two years already in detention without bail. She is currently appealing this sentence on the grounds that the prosecution were unable to prove intentionality. The other accused face similar sentences and have also all been refused bail.

In response to this, various feminist organizations in Baja California are campaigning for the release of all these women. Leading the campaign is Marixtel Calderón Vargas, member of the Red Iberoamericana Pro Derechos Humanos (Ibero American Network for Human Rights) with the help of the Federación de Mujeres Universitarias (Federation of University Women), Coordinación Nacional de Mujeres por un Milenio Feminista de Baja California (National Coordination for a Feminist Millennium in Baja California), and the Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noroeste (Citizens’ Committee for Human Rights in the North-West). You can find their blog page here. Obviously the page is in Spanish, however there is a window (in English) on the right hand side about halfway down which invites to you to sign the declaration in favour of the release of the women prisoners that these groups are going to present on Tuesday to the Governor of Baja California and the State Congress. Please sign and help these women.

Filed under: Feminism, Human Rights in Mexico, Women's Right to Choose, , , , , , , , ,

30 WOMEN INCLUDING A 12 YEAR OLD GIRL PROSECUTED FOR PROCURING AN ABORTION IN PUEBLA, MEXICO

On 4 November, members of the group Pacto por la Vida y Libertad y los Derechos de las Mujeres (Pact for Life, Liberty and Women’s Rights) highlighted the prosecution of 30 women –including two girls of 12 and 16 years of age respectively– by the judicial authorities in the state of Puebla, Mexico for the “crime of abortion”. In a meeting with the Puebla State Government’s representative in Mexico City they demanded that these proceedings be stopped. According to data collected by this group and the Red por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (Sexual and Reproductive Rights Network, or DDSER) in Puebla, nine women have been convicted of this offence and are awaiting sentencing, while the cases of the remaining 21 women are still in their investigative phrase. Due to the fact that the authorities have refused to disclose the circumstances in which these abortions occurred and the state of the case against the women, the activists are still unsure whether the prosecution is seeking punitive or non punitive sentences in these matters.

Natali Hernández Arias, a DDSER representative from Puebla, indicated that these prosecutions seemed to derive from the new legislation passed by the state authorities in March 2009 which introduced the “protection of life from the moment of conception until natural death”. She also called attention to the fact that in the period in which these prosecutions had begun (March 2009 to April 2010) there is no record of any investigation or prosecution into crimes of sexual violence in Puebla. As was the case in Guanajuato (see my blog post from September “Women imprisoned for miscarrying in Mexico”), all of the women being prosecuted originate from municipalities with the highest levels of social marginalisation and poverty in the state, where access to education, health care and justice is scarce. Also like the case of the women imprisoned in Guanajuato, at least one of those accused claims that she is being prosecuted for suffering a spontaneous miscarriage.

Sources:

http://www.cimacnoticias.com/site/10110407-Cesen-procesos-pen.44894.0.html

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/11/06/index.php?section=estados&article=027n1est

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pahr24GwFLI&feature=player_embedded

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

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