Women March Once Again Demanding Equality, Security, Justice
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Women March Once Again Demanding Equality, Security, Justice

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Paloma Duran By Paloma Duran | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Thu, 03/09/2023 - 11:22

In Mexico, thousands of women took to the streets to fight for their rights and gender equality as well as to commemorate and raise awareness of the femicides and gender violence that predominate in the country. This year, a record number of attendees at protests across the country was registered.

March 8, 2022, International Women's Day, arrived in Mexico amid a wave of violence against women. During López Obrador's administration, violence against women has scarcely decreased. In 2022, Mexico reported 968 femicides, 4.6% less than the 1,006 reported in 2021. However, rape crimes increased from 21,188 to 23,102. Currently, the country has an average of 10 femicides per day, 95% of which go unpunished. In addition, historical records show almost 30,000 women missing.

According to a survey conducted by El País, 45% of Mexican women have suffered some type of sexual aggression or harassment. Likewise, the wage gap and inequality continue, as Mexican women earn between 13% and 27% less than men for doing the same work, reported the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO).

At this year's march, the government reported that 90,000 people protested in Mexico City, 15,000 more than last year. Although the largest protest took place in Mexico City, other states such as Monterrey, State of Mexico, Zacatecas and Puebla also saw large assemblies.

As in previous years, the government placed a “peace wall,” a metal fence approximately 3m high surrounding key buildings like the National Palace and monuments. President López Obrador assured he did not put up the barrier out of a fear of women, as he was merely taking a precautionary measure. In response, Mexican women have accused the government of being more concerned about the monuments than the victims. They also wrote the names of hundreds of women victims of femicide on the wall, changing the name of the wall to Muro de la Memoria, or Wall of Remembrance.

The Ministry of Citizen Security announced the presence of 800 female police officers to guarantee the march was peaceful and said that in case of an emergency, approximately 2,500 police officers would be deployed. Likewise, police officers carried out an operation during which they confiscated some objects such as hammers, bats, sticks, paint cans and flammable liquids, among other potential hazards, to avoid further disturbances.

For years, feminist groups have accused the authorities of repressing the demonstrations and initiating aggression. In response to these accusations, Lucía Karen Pérez, Regional Director of the Ministry of Citizen Security in the municipality of Benito Juárez, said police officers were trained to recognize and prevent violations of women's rights.

Despite assurances that the march would not be repressed, feminist groups asked demonstrators to take precautions, as previous protests were marked by arbitrary arrests, as well as the use of rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters and reporters.

According to the government, in this year's march, most of the attendees marched peacefully with only a few altercations between feminists and policewomen occurring. The Rescue and Medical Emergency Squadron (ERUM) treated 37 people, most of whom suffered heat strokes, contusions or sprains. In addition, 24 policewomen were treated, one of whom, along with three other civilians, was taken to a hospital for minor injuries.

Tensions between the López Obrador government and Mexican women have been on the rise over the last few years. The highlighted how much women contribute to the country but accused the women's movement of being used by the opposition to promote violence against authorities and vandalize monuments. “They want to destroy and burn the National Palace, turning this incident into national and international headlines,” said López Obrador.

Likewise, the movement has been disparaged for excluding men, since the number of male homicide victims exceeds that of women. But, as previously stated by MBN, there is a major difference in the causes behind the violence: while a man may walk on the street and fear that his belongings could be stolen, a woman walking alone on the street must also fear gender-specific violence such as rape, torture, kidnapping, human trafficking, which often leads to sexual exploitation, and murder.

Photo by:   mike_ramirez_mx

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