Being a woman defender in México means running high risks on a daily basis

RNDDHM expressed concern to UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, and UN Women’s representative in Mexico, Belén Sanz, over the critical situation of women defenders.

Mexico, April 9, 2019. On April 6th, members of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico (RNDDHM) expressed their concern to Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Belén Sanz, the representative of UN Women in Mexico, over the critical situation of Mexican women defenders, who carry out their labor in the midst of a human rights crisis and structural, patriarchal violence.

Women defenders in Mexico face daily situations of high risk to their lives, an extenuating collective dynamic, and elevated stress levels, with negative consequences for their physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual health, said the members of this civilian network through the voice of Flor Goche, their coordinator.

According to the Registry of Attacks against Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico, 1 one attack against a woman defender occurs every day. The number of violent acts tripled during Enrique Peña Nieto’s term of office and continues to rise during the new Andrés Manuel López Obrador regime, with 130 taking place so far. Of these, two defenders have been killed, 2 one disappeared, 3 and the home of another broken into, 4 just to mention a few of the most serious attacks.

The members of the Defender Network who met with the UN representatives were Coordinator Flor Goche, Driving Group member Yésica Sánchez Maya, and Nieves Rodríguez of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land. Even though the New Mexico City International Airport has been canceled, Nieves Rodriguez continues to be harassed in her home in Texcoco by the Pifra construction company, which plans to conclude a work that is complementary to the megaproject.

Among the major concerns expressed by this civilian network to Michele Bachelet, during her official visit to Mexico are:

  • The high number of 51 murders of women defenders committed in Mexican territory from 2010 to March, 2019.
  • The forced displacement of women defenders from their workplaces due to heightened violence.
  • The situation of defenders of land, territory and natural resources, whose risk is increasingly higher with the implementation of plans of the current government to build more huge infrastructure projects.
  • The reality of sexual and reproductive rights defenders, who face violent actions from fundamentalist groups.
  • The heightened power of organized crime and its connivance with the State.
  • The declassification discourse of the Federal Executive regarding the organized civil society.

The meeting was held in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico. The problems of women in Mexico were approached in a general way. In addition to the situation of women defenders described by the RNDDHM, problems faced by women journalists were discussed, as well as digital attacks against women defenders and journalists. Another block of participations focused on the issues of feminicide, the disappearance of women and girls, and sexual and reproductive health.

1 An instrument coordinated by the Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders, which registers attacks against women defenders in Mexico.
2 Eulodia Díaz Ortiz of the State of Mexico, and Estelina López Gómez of Chiapas
3 Obtilia Eugenio Manuel was disappeared last February 12th in Guerrero and was located with life four days later
4 Cecilia López Pérez of Chiapas

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