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Legal instruments to protect women against violence

Part II – Any kind of violence is illegal.

By: Terry Ahtziry Cardenas Banda, attorney and law professor.

The United States of America was one of the first countries in which women’s movements emerged fighting for their rights. In 1848 there was the first meeting of women activists in the city of Seneca Falls, New York, where the “Declaration of Feelings, Complaints, and Resolutions” was drafted, which echoed in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal”.

However, despite the great movements that have emerged in the United States to protect and defend the rights of women, in this 21st century, women continue to face serious problems in the country, mainly gender violence linked to economic and social inequalities.

The United States of America, despite being one of the first world capitalist countries, the figures of violence against women are comparable to those of third world countries. According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) every 9 seconds a woman is beaten, and 38,028,000 women have experienced physical violence at some time in their lives. According to the report of the Violence Policy Center (VPC), more than 1,600 women were killed in 2015 by men with whom they had some kind of relationship, and mostly with a firearm. In addition, according to the American Psychological Association, 4,774,000 women in the United States suffer physical violence from their partner each year.

In 1994, the Congress of the United States of America responded to women’s struggles and movements through the approval of the historic Violence Against Women Act, which was suspended in 2011 and reauthorized in 2013. This law provides $ 1.6 billion for research and the prosecution of violent crimes against women, combined imposes the automatic and mandatory restitution of the convicted and allows civil compensation in tax cases, and established the Office of Violence against Women in the Department of Justice. In addition, the law passed in 2013 provides new protections for Native American women and immigrants.

In the US legal systems, there are various rules that protect women against violence. Among the most significant laws related to violence against women are the before mentioned Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA). The laws on violence against women provide greater support to women and families affected by violence. Likewise, each locality has laws on violence according to their own needs.

As in Mexico, the main legal source where women are protected is the Constitution of the United States of America in its 14th amendment section 1. which reads: “Every person born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to its jurisdiction, is a citizen of the United States and the State in which she resides. No State may create or implement laws that limit the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; neither may any State deprive a person of his life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction equal legal protection.

Even do, the regulations and means provided by the country to protect women against violence, the reality is that many women continue to be victims of gender violence, whether due to physical, emotional or economic abuse. In the work aspect, the disadvantage remains latent. The inequalities experienced by women are reflected in the helplessness of women, in situations that make them victims of physical and sexual violence, but there is also a latent inequality in the economic and work fields.

Therefore, as I mentioned in the last edition, I emphasize it again: the fight against the violence of women is the work of all women, men, citizens, and governments. It is a structural problem that we must all work together to eradicate and prevent, beginning by being informed of the current reality, the means of protection and defense. And being a border state, we also have to know the reality, protection and legality of the matter both in Mexico and in the United States of America.

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