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Legal instruments to protect women against violence

Part I

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

Between 2010 and 2015, 78,312 women have died. Likewise, 66.1% of women in Mexico have experienced at least one episode of violence, physical, psychological, sexual, economic, social or due to discrimination. These statistics are according to the data of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), data that show that in the last 10 years violence against women has not diminished.

In the Mexican legal system, there are several rules that protect women against violence, which must be understood, in a broad manner, as any act or omission, based on their gender that causes any damage or suffering, of any nature. In Mexico, there are about 88 crimes within the Mexican legislation that regulate acts of violence against women, however, there is still absence of the subject in some criminal codes of the different states.

In Mexico, there are different legal instruments to protect women against violence, these instruments are national and international, as well as federal, state and local. The main legal source where women are protected against any act or omission related to violence is the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States.

In its first article, it guarantees the protection of women by establishing a prohibition against all kinds of discrimination motivated by gender. Afterwards, the constitution continues to protect women in their article 4, which establishes that “men and women are equal before the law”, a concept that is reinforced in Article 34, which grants citizens equal conditions for men and women. In the same way, Article 2 establishes the respect for “individual guarantees, human rights and, in a relevant way, the dignity and integrity of women.” Article 18 also establishes that convicted women “will compile their sentences in places separated from those intended for men.”

Likewise, the main Mexican laws that promote the prevention and eradication of violence against women are the Federal Criminal Code, the General Law for Equality between Women and Men, the General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence, the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination, the Law of the National Institute for Women, the General Education Law, the Federal Labor Law and the General Health Law.

In recent years, because violence against women has not diminished and because of the various reforms that the Mexican Constitution has had, Mexico has strengthened its international relations by joining different treaties that defend women against violence and promote countries to legislate and guarantee women’s a life free of violence. Therefore, given the 2011 reform of the Mexican Constitution, the international treaties that Mexico has signed and ratified also have an important legal force in Mexico since they are in the same hierarchy as the constitution and are important instruments for women who have suffered some type of violence.

The main international treaties that regulate means of protecting women against violence are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on the  Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Belem do Pará), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking of Persons, especially Women and Children, the Platform of the Pacific Action for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality, the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Resolution 52/86 of the General Assembly of the United Nations on measures of crime prevention and criminal justice for the elimination of violence against women.

It is important to know and identify that there are different public institutions working to eradicate and prevent violence against women, in addition to providing assistance and support to women living in situations of violence, within these institutions are: the National Institute for Women, the Women’s Institute for the State of Baja California, the Public Ministry AEDSVI, the Agency Specialized in Sexual Offenses and Family Violence, the State and Municipal DIFs, the Center for Attention Against Domestic Violence in Mexicali (CAVIM), the Intrafamily Violence Unit (UVI) and the Office for Human Rights and Citizen Protection.

The National Women’s Institute has as one of its primary objectives to promote the full exercise of women’s human rights in Mexico, through the development of a culture of equality and equity free of violence and discrimination, which is why it is the main institution of Mexico for the defense of women’s rights. In the same way, there are private institutions within the states that provide assistance to women who live situations of violence.

The fight against women’s violence is task of everyone: women’s, men’s, 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.

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