While I sympathize with women in the United States who are fighting to earn the same wage as men, things are a little more complicated south of the border when it comes to equality. Women aren’t just second-class citizens. They aren’t even considered human, but conveniences or even commodities, at times.
Take a look at these two incidents.
The mayor of Santa María Alotepec in Oaxaca ordered the arrest of 40 women. The police were only able to round up seven. The reason for the arrest was that the women who worked in the community kitchen refused to loan plates for an event the mayor had planned. The women’s reasoning for not giving him the dishes is that the mayor did not follow proper protocol for using the facility or requesting the dinnerware. So the mayor ordered their arrest instead of requesting a reservation. A bully, through and through who believed his position as mayor (and of course the masculine police force) would make these women submit to his whims.
The women were only released when the Government Secretariat and Oaxaca Human Rights Commission (DDHPO) intervened.
In the second article, the mayor of San Andrés Puerto Rico and another official were kidnapped, forced to dress in women’s clothing and set to begging passing motorists for money by residents. This was the third time this mayor was forced into a skirt by his constituents. The residents claim the reason for this humiliation is that he has yet to fulfill his campaign promises to improve the water system in the community. Apparently, this is a long-standing way to deal with oathbreakers in the area.
Dressing a man up in women’s clothing strips him of his pants, a representation of his position of honesty, power, and authority. So a liar wears a skirt?
So how big is the equality gap between men and women in Mexico really?
Yes, women can vote in Mexico. Women have been eligible to vote in elections since 1953, although they were not permitted to exercise that right until 1955. Women have made strides in holding political office in recent years. Over 40% of the Lower House of Congress are women as of 2018. On the other hand, in local government, fewer than 1 / 5 of those that hold the position of mayor are women.
Yes, women can work in Mexico. Forty-four percent of Mexico’s population is employed females who earn between 14% and 16.5% less than their male counterparts. More than half of the women in Mexico, over ten million women, make less than $6,200 pesos per month. The rights of domestic workers, the majority of whom are women, were upheld in May 2019. For example, it is now illegal to terminate employment on the basis of pregnancy.
Yes, women can attend school in Mexico. The elementary and middle schools are free. However, inherent inequality in the school system exists. Classes are taught only in Spanish, placing the speakers of the 68 indigenous dialects in Mexico at a disadvantage. Girls in rural areas of Mexico are less educated than their brothers. Some are forced to leave school early to tend to domestic tasks. Others marry. Mexico has the seventh-highest absolute number of child brides in the world.
Let’s look at some more statistics:
- More than 66% of women in Mexico over 15 have been a victim of at least one incident of sexual, emotional, physical or economic abuse.
- Mexico has the 16th highest rate of femicides in the world.
- More than 85% of Mexico’s human trafficking victims are female.
- Throughout the country, there are more than 700 women imprisoned because of a miscarriage or stillbirth. Abortion is illegal in every state except Mexico City and yet birth control is unavailable for large sections of the population.
- Women are pressured to have cesarean sections rather than give birth naturally. Mexico now has more than a 45% c-section birth rate as compared to 12% in 1987, making it the 6th highest in the world.
Women are systematically denied control over their own body and finances. They are even accused of contributing to their own murders in Mexico. Impunity is the byword here. No one is held accountable for their actions–unless they are women who deny the mayor some plates. Then by golly, let’s round them up and teach them a lesson.
Even though calladita se ve más bonita (a silent woman looks prettier–a common Mexican saying), the truth is pretty ugly when it comes to equality for women in Mexico.