Mexico City’s first female mayor has promised to eradicate violence against women.
"To avoid and eliminate violence against women ... finally, that is the objective," Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said at a recent roundtable event focused on access to justice for women and girls in Mexico City.
"It's not fighting it — the objective is ultimately to eradicate violence … That should be the goal," she said.
Violence against women in Mexico has increased in recent years, aggravated by the economic crisis and government inaction. In many fields, including politics, women have been excluded or left behind for a long time, but with Sheinbaum’s election represented a ray of hope for change.
Femicide — the killing of a woman or girl, particularly by a man, on the basis of her gender — has already claimed hundreds of lives across Mexico this year. About 1,100 women were murdered in Mexico between January and May overall, according to government figures. And nearly 370 of them were killed by men because of their gender.
During the event, Sheinbaum discussed measures her government has taken to prosecute perpetrators of gender-based violence and protect women, including appointing female lawyers in each of the city's 16 public ministries to support women filing violence claims.
Sheinbaum said that such protective measures have quadrupled since last year, highlighting the advancement of the city's 32 legal and psychological support shelters known as "Lunas," Reuters reported.
"We are saving women," she said.
Sheinbaum also said that 15 femicide cases were prosecuted in the capital this year leading to the sentencing of five men. Six suspected suicide or homicide cases involving the deaths of women were also reclassified as femicides, she added.
Many countries in Latin America have seen high numbers of femicide cases. In Brazil, for example, four women become victims of femicide every day. In January, Pope Francis called gender-based violence in Latin America “a plague,” and urged action.
Many young people find themselves "boxed in and lacking opportunities, amid highly conflictual situations with no quick solution: domestic violence, the killing of women — our continent is experiencing a plague in this regard," Pope Francis said during a meeting in Panama with Central American bishops.
Across the region, there were 2,795 reported victims of femicide in 2017, however the true number could be higher as the murders of some women may have been recorded as other types of crimes.
Rights activists applauded the mayor's commitment, but warned that stricter reforms are still needed.
"It's a very good declaration — what we need are actions," Juan Martín Perez Garcia, executive director of REDIM, a collective of children's advocacy groups, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Right now, (what authorities are doing) is not creating a change in the statistics," he said.