Hiding Under the Bed Is Not the Answer

Teen Mother Dies of Septic Poisoning After Being Fitted With an IUD Coil Without Her Consent

Further to the story I reported here a couple of weeks ago, it appears that the practice of implanting the IUD or coil into women without their consent is not confined to Oaxaca. Yesterday the CIMAC news website published a story by Chantel Martínez Díaz about the death of 17 year old Perla Gacela from Tamaulipas. She died of septicemia after an IUD coil was fitted in her uterus post-partum without her consent. The following is a translated summary of the story:

Perla Gacela did not have access to contraception and last year, became pregnant at 17. After she gave birth to her son Valentín at the “Norberto Treviño Zapata” General Hospital in Ciudad Victoria (the state capital) in December 2010, the gynecologist who treated her fitted an IUD coil in her uterus without telling her or her mother. The coil caused her uterus to become infected and, as a result Perla died on 10 February 2011. Her mother has taken charge of Valentín, but still cannot pay the hospital fees her daughter incurred nor the debts related to her funeral. She is understandable very angry and upset about what happened to her daughter and called for the practice of implanting coils into patients without their permission to be stopped immediately.

Susana Collado, a gynecologist and obstetrician at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, quoted in the article, points out quite correctly that this type of behaviour by doctors is “a flagrant violation of women’s human rights” as well as contravening the Mexican Constitution, which guarantees women the liberty to make her own choices about contraception. Moreover, she says the practice “points not only to the inhuman and degrading treatment [given to the women] but also to ignorance about the use of contraception” since the IUD coil is not the only contraception available to post partum women.

According to a local NGO, Observatorio de la Mortalidad Materna (Maternal Mortality Watch), 4.2% of maternal deaths in Tamaulipas are in the 11-19 age group. This report leads me to ask how many young girls have died due to the meddling of paternalistic doctors?

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


On 25 November 2010, the Observatorio Nacional del Feminicidio (Mexico’s National Femicide Observatory, a non-governmental organization) highlighted the fact that five Mexican states –including Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí and Oaxaca– had not made public the number of female murders committed in their territory during 2010. This caused a minor scandal in this north-eastern state, where the ruling party’s government (Partido de la Revolución Institucional or PRI) tightly controls the press and is highly averse to allowing stories prejudicial to the image of the governor, Eugenio Hernández Flores [1]. Highlighting this lapse, a local web-based newspaper, Hoylaredo.net, concluded that the government wanted to hide the figures, and it also noted that in the week in which the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was commemorated, the state’s Women’s Institute (Instituto de la Mujer Tamaulipeca) had not organised anything to mark the occasion, while “in other states […] fora, workshops and training on women’s rights” abounded. The President of a local charity, Viva Mujer (Long Live Women), Nayma Balquiarena Pérez, made the same accusation, signalling out the Procuraduría General de Justicia de Tamaulipas (the state’s prosecutor’s office or PGJT) y el Instituto de la Mujer Tamaulipeca for her criticism. The charge was hotly denied by the Institute’s President, Yolira Joch González, who pointed out that her office, following figures from the PGJT, had recorded 2, 000 crimes of violence against women in 2010

Probably as a result of this furore, last week, the PGJT and the Women’s Institute published their account of the femicides committed in Tamaulipas during 2010. According to these bodies, the figure is 27. The publication of this information has not quietened their opponents, however, mostly because such a small number does not seem credible. Especially since in June 2010, a report by the Centro de Estudios Fronterizos y de Promoción a los Derechos Humanos A.C., (Centre for Border Studies and the Promotion of Human Rights or Cefprodhac) demonstrated that there had already been 17 femicides in Tamaulipas in the first six months of the year. Questioned about the figure, the head of the municipal Women’s Institute in Reynosa, denied that the figure had been manipulated, arguing that the government had no reason to lie about this matter.

The problem is, of course, that even if the government were telling the truth, the culture of silence and the obsessive manipulation of the press by the PRI in Tamaulipas automatically make any institutional pronouncement on any issue questionable. On the subject of femicide, as in the question of the current drug violence, the government has every reason to lie, since its principal effort is to convince the population that “en Tamaulipas no pasa nada” (“Nothing ever happens in Tamaulipas”), despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary that this same population sees in front of its nose every single day.

Filed under: Feminism, Violence Against Women, , , , , ,

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