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Mexico acknowledges failure on gender violence, unveils plan

March 6, 2019
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 file photo, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives a press conference in Mexico City. Lopez Obrador said Thursday, Feb. 28, that wages should rise “but we shouldn’t create an atmosphere of labor instability.” He is now trying to close the Pandora’s box of wage demands he helped unleash when he doubled the minimum wage in border areas. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 file photo, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives a press conference in Mexico City. Lopez Obrador said Thursday, Feb. 28, that wages should rise “but we shouldn’t create an atmosphere of labor instability.” He is now trying to close the Pandora’s box of wage demands he helped unleash when he doubled the minimum wage in border areas. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities acknowledged Wednesday that Mexico has failed to do enough to protect women and girls, and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government presented a plan to combat gender violence.

It includes efforts to identify and fix holes in active murder investigations; to strengthen cooperation between prosecutors, health services and other authorities; to standardize femicide, or killings of women that are directly gender-related, as a crime nationwide; and to search for women as soon as they are reported missing.

Currently disappearances are often not investigated immediately, and experts say that means critical hours or days are wasted. Femicide is not typified as a crime in 13 states, and women’s advocacy groups have regularly called for that to be remedied.

Nadine Gasman, president of the National Women’s Institute, said during a news conference with Lopez Obrador that the goal is to attend to women “with sensitivity and quality.” She called violence against women “a government problem.”

Last year 3,580 women and girls were killed in Mexico.

“All of them have a common factor: the lack of timely and diligent intervention by the Mexican state to preserve their integrity and to ensure their lives,” Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said, adding that women are under threat from both domestic violence and organized crime.

According to the National Citizens’ Observatory on Femicide, less than a third of killings of women were investigated as femicides. The government has not said how many of the 3,580 killed last year were considered to be femicides.

Gasman also announced the creation of a national registry of public transportation — from where many women and girls have disappeared — an initiative to identify child abuse through the schools and mobile apps or other instruments to prevent attacks, especially in areas of high incidence.

She said 17 of Mexico’s 31 states plus the capital district in Mexico City already have a gender alert system, but acknowledged that it needs improvement.

That point is considered key by advocates. Maria de la Luz Estrada, president of the Observatory, said that in none of those states have authorities evaluated whether recommendations are being followed.

“Results are not being delivered, and impunity continues to grow,” she said.

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