By Gabriela Ramírez
Mexico, May (SEMlac). - A total of 44 women, including activists and journalists, have been killed since 2010, according to the National Network of Human Rights Defenders.
The most recent case was that of Miriam Rodríguez, who was riddled with bullets in her home last May 10.
This situation has sparked a wide range of reactions among civil society and international organizations.
A Network representative said that Chihuahua is the Mexican state with the highest number of attacks on women defenders. In 2010, Josefina Reyes, Marisela Escobedo, María I. Cordero, María M. Reyes and Luisa Ornelas were killed.
In 2011, Susana Chávez was also killed. She had been reporting cases of missing women in Juarez and women's murders on the border. In 2017, Miroslava Breach got killed and Patricia Mayorga had to seek asylum in the United States.
In Guerrero, the list of women's murders includes María E. Hernández (2010), Isabel Ayala and Reyna Ayala (2011), Juventina Villa and Fabiola Osorio (2012), Rocío Mesino and Ana L. Gatica (2013), and Norma A. Bruno (2015).
"There other states where the number of women's murders has been increasing: Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Michoacán, Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, the state of Mexico and Mexico City," the Network representative stressed.
Marisela Escobedo was shot dead in Chihuahua on December 16, 2010, at the entrance to the Government Palace, after a sit-in to demand justice for her daughter, who was killed by her sexual partner Sergio R. Barraza.
He was first found not guilty, but was later sentenced to 50 years in prison. The truth is that he has not been taken to jail yet.
Sandra L. Hernández was murdered in Sinaloa on May 12, 2014. A man named Jesús F. Valenzuela shot her dead and was found not guilty a year later.
She had for two years looked for her son Edgar García, who had been kidnapped while working as a messenger for the Prosecutor-General's Office in the city.
Cornelia San Juan died in the state of Mexico on January 15, 2016. She had been looking for her son Oswaldo Espejel since 2012, when he was kidnapped. Cornelia's murderer was caught, but there has been no news about Oswaldo.
Emma G. Molina was killed on March 27, 2017. She had sought to find her three children who had been kidnapped by their own father Alberto Medina, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Tabasco. Two men slit her throat at the entrance door to her house. Her mother Ligia Canto has decided to take action and demand justice.
Miriam Rodríguez was shot dead in her house last May 10. She had tried to find her daughter Karen Alejandra, who had gone missing in 2012. She found her remains in a common grave and managed to put her murderers in jail. She was a founding member of Colectivo Desaparecidos de Tamaulipas (an organization for missing people in Tamaulipas).
A report of the National Human Rights Commission indicated that a total of 29,903 people had gone missing between 2007 and 2013.
A total of 855 illegal graves had been discovered in this period, the report added.
Around 82 per cent of the cases of disappearances have been seen in 11 states, mainly in Tamaulipas (5,563 cases) and the state of Mexico (2,984 cases).
The New York Times recently published an interview with local women who have helped find and exhume 263 bodies from a grave in Veracruz.
The world speaks up
After the recent murder of Mirian Rodríguez, European Union (EU) Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Federica Mogherini highlighted the need to conduct thorough, independent and comprehensive investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"Authorities should also ensure the adoption of the preventive measures necessary for the effective protection of the human rights of defenders and journalists," she added.
Amnesty International (AI) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico have demanded prompt clarification of Rodríguez' case.
They have also asked the Mexican government to guarantee the effective protection of all victims and their families.
By Mercedes Alonso
Santo Domingo, May (SEMlac). - Facing the painting of founding father Juan P. Duarte, in a classroom, two girls wrestle and trade punches on the floor, while their classmates simply look at them or utter provocative phrases. In another school, a girl is attacked by a boy, opposite to the teacher.
The Dominican Republic ranks fifth on the list of Latin American countries with the highest number of cases of bullying.
Education minister Andrés Navarro announced that a high-level commission has been established to review all cases of sexual, physical and psychological abuse at school.
He also announced that a standing committee will be working in close coordination with the Prosecutor-General's Office in this connection.
Teachers are unable to keep control in class
Experts told TV show Enfoque Matinal last May 16 that bullying has reached alarming proportions in many local schools.
Luis Vergés, director of the Behavioral Intervention Center for Men, highlighted the need to build appropriate school settings for all students.
Anthropologist Tahira Vargas urged to immediately address the difficulties that teachers are facing to manage this phenomenon.
Family therapist Rafaela Burgos said that this situation has a very negative impact on students.
Last May 16, a press report indicated that a lecture on adolescents aged 13 to 15 and acts of violence in public schools, which was delivered by researchers Henry Parada, Rafaela Burgos and María E. Asuad from Ryerson University in Canada, provided updated information along these lines.
Over 37 per cent of the male students included in their survey admitted enduring extreme social violence situations, witnessing crimes, and/or having been involved in street gang beatings.
Around 35 per cent of the girls said they have witnessed murders and got involved in bullying.
Asuad indicated that in the southern communities, where poverty conditions prevail, female adolescents are even more exposed to physical and psychological abuse.
Focusing on the problem
These researchers feel that the Dominican State should focus on increased violence, as it affects students, their families and even public-health initiatives.
Last November 25, the Ministry of Education implemented the United-Nations-promoted Orange Day (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls).
The current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include gender equality and women's empowerment as issues of priority.
Experts believe that there is a pressing need to promote respect for all individuals and human dignity in the country.
By Sylvia Torres
Managua, April (SEMlac). - "Nicaragua, a country where people are overwhelmed by unemployment, bribery, and poor social services, ranks 43 out of the 157 happiest nations on Earth," said Bertha M. Sánchez, a young feminist born in Chinandega.
In this context, IPA director Marta M. Blandón published a report showing that, since President Daniel Ortega took office, over 16,400 girls have been raped and/or forced to become mothers.
She regretted that society is more concerned about boxing than about sexual abuse.
"That should not be tolerated," she stressed.
The happiness index, in which Nicaragua has made some progress as compared to 2015, was developed by economist Jeffrey Sachs for the United Nations System.
The relevant report is based on variables such as the per capital Gross Domestic Product, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make decisions, generosity, and perception of corruption.
Magaly Quintana, a leader of Catholics for the Right to Choose in Nicaragua, asked the following question: who did the people who put together the report listen to?
"They must have listened to those interested in hiding women's murders," she noted.
Last year, police authorities merely recognized 11 murders, while her observatory set the total number at 49.
"Had Nicaragua seen only 11 women's murders in 2016, we would have been really happy," she remarked.
According to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, there were 4,923 sexual violence reports issued last year. Over 51 per cent of them involved girls and boys in 28 out of 153 municipalities.
"There have been 14 women's murders so far this year," the source said.
Juanita Jiménez, a leader of the Autonomous Women's Movement, told local media representatives that, according to statistical data, the number of unresolved cases had moved from 4,363 in 2015 up to 9,774 in 2016.
"This situation is very serious," she concluded.
By Gabriela Ramírez and Alicia Mendoza
Mexico, April (SEMlac). - The number of cases of political violence against women has grown by over 300 per cent in the last three years.
Santiago Nieto, an attorney specialized in electoral crime, recently indicated that the state of Guerrero alone had seen 38 cases in the 2015 elections.
"There had been only two cases in the 2012 elections," he recalled.
In the 2017 elections, there have so far been acts of political violence in six states (Baja California, Campeche, Coahuila, Jalisco, Veracruz, and Oaxaca), out of a total of 32.
Women endure this type of violence even after they become local governors and MPs.
State of Mexico
There are three women nominated for governors in the state of Mexico: Delfina Gómez (National Regeneration Movement), Josefina Vázquez (National Action Party), and Teresa Castell (an independent candidate).
Acts of political violence were seen right after the process began. Gómez announced that the National Action Party and the Democratic Revolution Party had strongly attacked her on the social networks.
She said she had never had an affair with the former mayor accused of masterminding the event whereby 43 primary school teachers in Ayotzinapa had gone missing.
In 2016, the Attorney's Office for Electoral Crimes (FEPADE) had reported a couple of cases and, a year later, Mónica Fragoso, former candidate to mayor in Toluca, announced she had been expelled from the National Action Party by Genaro Martínez, a local leader, just because she was a woman.
Last October, Yomali Mondragón, an MP representing the Democratic Revolution Party, submitted a bill to the legislature seeking to amend the law on women's right to a violence-free society. However, no progress has been made along these lines.
The election process covers local government bodies, regional councils, and town halls. Mary Thelam, of the Democratic Revolution Party, is the only woman running for governor.
Gabriela León, former president of the Observatory on Women's Political Participation in Coahuila, recently indicated that, while women account for 52 per cent of the electoral roll, many still think that they are not good nominees.
In 2016, the Electoral Institute in Coahuila rejected a proposal to appoint Heidi E. Hernández alderwoman.
FEPADE undertook an investigation in early 2017, shortly after a local council member had been harassed by political party leaders.
The process involves local government bodies, regional councils, and town halls. There is no woman running for governor.
In September 2015, MP coordinator Sonia Ibarra submitted a bill against political crimes.
In 2016, FEPADE investigated some actions aimed at hindering the electoral functions of council members in Nayarit.
Elections cover 212 town halls. Half of nominees are women.
In June 2016, the state Congress adopted a bill incorporating gender-based political violence into the law on women's right to a violence-free society.
There have been no political-violence reports made public so far.
Last March 9, the Senate adopted a bill sanctioning gender-based political violence.
It established that this form of political violence includes pressure, persecution, harassment, coercion, humiliation, discrimination, threats, etc.
Fines range from 50 to 200 dollars and imprisonment, from six months to six years.
Rosa Pérez, municipal president in San Pedro Chenalhó (Chiapas), representing the Green Party of Mexico, won the elections on July 19, 2015 and, on May 25, 2016, the local Congress requested her resignation.
On August 17, 2016, the Electoral Court asked her to get back to her position. There have been, however, no conditions created for such a move.
Felicitas Muñoz, municipal president in Culiacan (Guerrero), representing the Citizen Movement, won the elections on June 7, 2015 and took office on September 31 of that year. In May 2016, three aldermen accused her of misappropriation, but produced no evidence whatsoever.
Her house was hit by bullets, and she has not been able to govern from the town hall because it has been taken over by her assailants.
"These are clear manifestations of political violence that seek to prevent women from fully exercising their political rights," said former senator Martha Tagle.
There have been around 20 cases of political violence duly documented in Oaxaca, especially in San Pedro Atoyac, Santiago Pinotepa, Santiago Lachiguiri, Santo Domingo Zanatepec, Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán, Cuicatlán, San Juan Bautista de Soto, San Dionisio del Mar, San Pablo Huixtepec, San José Independencia, Santiago Xanica, San Martín Peras, Valle Nacional, San Andrés Cabecera Nueva, San Juan Cotzocón and, more recently, in San Esteban Atatlahuca.
Samantha Caballero, municipal president in San Juan Bautista del Soto (Oaxaca), representing the Independent Revolution Party, won the elections on June 5, 2016. Several days before she took office, she was harassed, but did not give in.
However, she has not been able to perform her functions as she should for security reasons.
Yareli Cariño, a lawyer born in Pinotepa, was invited to run for governor in 2016. She was soon sexually harassed by a local MP.
Irma Aguilar, municipal president in San Pedro Atoyac, indicated that she has been threatened, insulted, physically attacked, and requested to resign.
By Alba Trejo
Guatemala, March (SEMlac). - A ship of the international pro-abortion NGO Women on Waves sparked controversy at the port of San José when it urged women up to 10 weeks pregnant to have abortion procedures performed on board if they so wished.
Local MPs, religious leaders and government authorities, including president Jimmy Morales, strongly opposed such an "aberration."
The treatment offered by Women on Waves consisted of two abortive bills and advisory services on board.
A report of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) indicated that a child gestated after rape is born every day in Guatemala and that around 65,000 women resort to illegal abortion every year.
Sixty per cent of the 17-million population is Catholic and goes to mass every Sunday.
There were 6,729 visits and 2,000 comments on Facebook alone, while the press release entitled Local authorities have expelled an abortion ship one day after arrival was read by 3,213 people and commented on by another 443.
Ana S. Monzón, a feminist activist, indicated that three centuries of women's struggles and demands were simply erased in one fell swoop.
Carolina Vásquez emphasized that women's rights have on this occasion been trampled upon, without taking any notice of the consequences.
"Those who protested against the ship will not look after the babies, so they should not interfere," said Edelnilson Hernández.
Flor Molina recalled that abortion-related mother mortality is the third cause of death for local women at present.
By Norma Loto
Buenos Aires, March (SEMlac Special). - Internet-related women went on strike last February 23 to demand fair treatment.
They are often poorly paid, underestimated, and even sexually abused.
The strike was staged under the Denial of Service (DoS) modality over Twitter.
Led by Silicon Valley workers, it was supported by Latin American ICT groups dealing with web rights.
A document on the strike indicated that women's situation in this field has remained unchanged over the years.
It added that women account for 20 to 30 per cent of the labor force in ICTs.
While they have the same education and professional experience as men, their wages are 28 per cent lower, they are 25 per cent more likely to be sexually harassed at work, and they make up only 11 per cent of CEOs in Silicon Valley."
The situation is even worse in the case of transgender and black women.
Women united will never be defeated
Angie Contreras is a Mexican digital activist who runs @QuintaesenciaR and is a member of a Youth Observatory (@YouthObs).
She told SEMlac that the action has paved the way for another strike next March 8 (International Women's Day).
"ICT and other engineering specialties continue to be dominated by men because of deeply rooted social stereotypes.
"We strongly favor the idea of digital feminism," she stressed.
"We want to promote women's active participation and rights on the web and to prevent offline violence practices from being reproduced online," she concluded.
By Soledad Jarquín and Zayra Hernández
Oaxaca, Mexico, February (SEMlac). - Many local men and women are currently resorting to esoteric rituals to experience real love.
Psychologist Ita Bico indicated that these services have been in high demand lately.
"Around Saint Valentine's Day, many people come for "tie-ups," said Erika Montesinos, of The Ritual, only two blocks away from Zócalo, that is, the city's main square.
"Our fees range from five dollars up to 250 dollars," she added.
Sonia Vera is one of her regular clients. "I feel better after I come for these rituals," she told SEMlac.
Cruz López, another psychologist who works for the People's Advocate in Oaxaca, said that love goes far beyond rituals and theories.
Miriam Mendoza told SEMlac about some of her "secrets" for those who are lovesick.
"One of them includes covering the photo of the beloved with bee honey," she noted.
On the other hand, Apolinar López is of the view that esoteric rituals are like exhaust valves.
Specialized services include cards reading, lucky charms, and even horoscopes.
"People simply like to give their free and full consent," he concluded
By Alba Trejo
Guatemala, February (SEMlac). - Many local children are taken to hospitals with broken bones and bruises, simply because their parents or other family members get mad at them.
They totaled 14,000 last year only. Most of them told caregivers how they had been sexually abused and threatened to death if they did not keep silent.
Forensic doctor Sergio Rodas indicated that most victims had been strangled, drowned or shot to death.
But, why are Guatemalan children more vulnerable than children in other countries of the region? Leonel Dubón, who works at a shelter, came up with a straightforward answer: Because the State thinks that children under 13 years of age simply do not exist.
"Boys and girls are not being given priority," he regretted.
Local prosecution services indicated that there were 14,000 reports of physical abuse and 7.000 reports of acts of sexual violence against children in 2016 alone.
Attorney-General Thelma Aldana found it necessary to establish an office for acts of violence against children only.
In fact, Nery Rodenas, representative of the Archbishopric Human Rights Office (ODHAG), announced that the Guatemalan State invests merely 3.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on children.
"Neighboring countries like El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama allocate around six per cent," she noted.
"Local children are being negatively affected by an authoritarian, male-chauvinistic, discriminatory culture," she added.
"We at ODHAG have been monitoring violence against our children since 1998," she announced.
Survivors Foundation director Claudia Hernández indicated that 80 per cent of local households have seen their children, women and older people abused.
Dubón deeply regrets that the Attorney's Office for Children, the Secretariat for Social Well-being and the National Commission on Children have no funds to operate.
Axel Romero, minister of the Interior, is seeking to raise awareness about children in marginalized areas.
On the other hand, Marco A. Garavito, a representative of the Mental Health League, is fully aware of the fact that abused children tend to adopt violent behaviors when they reach puberty.
"There are around 19,000 teenagers currently involved in criminal gangs, willing to extort and even kill for money," he concluded.
By Tamara Vidaurrázaga
Santiago de Chile, January (SEMlac). - Vicente (23) is in the process of changing his gender identity. He was born a girl and named Camila.
To this end, he has been forced to make long, cumbersome, disrespectful arrangements.
He did not like to wear dresses and skirts when he was only five. "I always asked my parents to buy me boy's toys," he told SEMlac.
He did not like it either when his body started to change at puberty. "I had to struggle against myself because I thought I had to be heterosexual and I was nonetheless attracted to women," he added.
At 21, a female friend told him that he may well be a trans person. He thought it through and decided to embark on his transition, although he feared rejection and abuse.
He has been seeking advice from the Legal Clinic at the University of Chile for over a year, and has undergone physical and psychological examinations at the Legal Medical Service to have his gender identity changed.
"The physical examination included asking me questions about my body and the psychological one, about potential child abuse. The professionals were all hostile, cold, distant," he recalled.
"You really get mad when you have to face so many hurdles to be who you want to be," he stressed.
Outright Action International's report entitled Mapping the rights of trans in Chile was supported by TranSítar Foundation and put together by Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD-Chile) (https://www.
Civil court requirements for change of name and sexual reassignment include medical examinations and witness testimonies about the applicant's life as a man or a woman for at least five years.
There is a law against discrimination that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. It has made it possible to establish a legal mechanism for this purpose.
A gender identity law
The Yogyakarta Principles set forth that States should take all legislative and administrative measures necessary to ensure full respect for and legal recognition of the gender identity chosen by every individual.
These principles are not being observed in Chile, however. The above-mentioned report recommended passing a gender identity law to regulate cases like that of Vicente.
A bill along these lines was submitted to Congress in 2013. If it is finally passed into law, it will stipulate that gender identity is a human right and will help secure full equality for trans people before the law.
In 2015, the Human Rights Commission at the Senate adopted a final text on amendments of birth certificates and minimum age for Civil Registry proceedings.
TranSÍtar director Niki Raveau emphasized that trans people of all ages should have the right to legalize their identity without having to appear in court.
"This law will certainly be a step forward, but there will still be a need to address issues for trans people like health care, education, and access to the employment market. We must follow the examples of Malta and Argentina in this regard," she concluded.
By Mercedes Alonso
Santo Domingo, January (SEMlac). - The call to march to put an end to impunity has generated a lot of expectation in the local population.
Originally scheduled for January 22, the event has sought to fight corruption and impunity after a case that involved a Brazilian construction company (Ode Brecht) and State officials on the island.
A press release indicated that the march will soon be held on various locations.
A campaign entitled Four per cent for education was launched in 2010 to ask the government to enforce a law that had been passed in 1997 setting forth that four per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be allocated to education.
Representatives of over 200 organizations and millions of ordinary people mobilized on the fourth day of every month ever since and up to 2013, all wearing yellow.
By the end of 2012, the government announced that the demand would be met. It had always invested only two percent of the GDP on this critical sector, which was one of the lowest investments in the region. Thirteen per cent of the population over 15 years of age was illiterate, and most schools were understaffed and overcrowded at the time.
The so-called Educational Revolution under President Danilo Medina has trained more teachers and built hundreds of schools and day-care centers.
However, in 2016, a total of 78 women were murdered, and 70 boys, girls and adolescents became orphans as a result.
After two decades of struggle and mass mobilization, the problem of gender and family violence remains.
A total of 77 women were killed by their husbands or sexual partners in 2015 alone, and 967 lost their lives between 2007 and 2016.
Against this background, the Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Women's Affairs decided to partner with social organizations, government institutions and cooperation agencies to raise awareness and seek to prevent and control violence.
Last January 1st, the local media announced that a man had killed his common-law wife with a stick and had committed suicide. Just a month before, a woman had been shot to death, leaving five children in orphanage, including a pregnant teenager.
Roberto Rodríguez, communication director in the central government, announced a permanent campaign to make women's rights visible.
Another initiative by the ministries of Labor and Women's Affairs and the Dominican Association of Free Zones had been undertaken in November 2012 to prevent and eradicate gender and family violence.
Among other campaigns are No aguanto más (Enough is enough); Si me quieres, no me dañes (If you love me, do not hit me); and El poder de tu voz (The power of your voice).
Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic continues to rank third on women's murders in the region, after Honduras and El Salvador, according to a report of the National Office of Statistics (ONE).