Tag Archives: penalties for rape in Mexico

Rape Culture in Mexico

The “Me Too” campaign recently making the rounds on social media sites called to mind another demand for justice launched last year called Ya No Nos Callamos Mas (We won’t Shut Up).  While both campaigns were begun to highlight sexual abuse of women, Ya No Nos Callamos Mas has a forum for NAMING the assailant publicly.  After all, there is some accountability due for sexual assault.  Someone is the aggressor.  Someone is the victim.  Why should only the victim be named?

One in every 10 women in Mexico has been a victim of a sexual assault ranging in severity from groping to rape. Officials estimate that each year there are 120,000 rapes, one every 4 minutes, making Mexico number one in the world for sexual violence incidents. (México es el primer lugar en violencia sexual: ONU) (Over 14,000 Women Are Raped in Mexico Every Year: Report)

Most of these rapes go unreported.  Of those that are reported, very few are brought to justice.  For example, in 2009, 14,829 rape cases were filed.  Of those, only 3,462 were prosecuted, which led to only 2,795 sentences. (Amnistía Internacional (AI) en 2012)(LA VIOLENCIA SEXUAL EN MÉXICO INICIA EN CASA Y EN SU MAYORÍA QUEDA IMPUNE)

Worldwide, 13.7% of females raped are under 10 years old.  65% are between the ages of 10 and 20 years old. (Ipas Salud) 70% of the rapists are family members.  In 7.2% of the cases, the rapist is the father while 8.2% of the rapists are stepfathers.  55.1% rapes are perpetrated by another male family member (uncles or cousins) or close friend of the family.  3.4% of the rapists are boyfriends of the victim. (Sexual Violence Research Initiative)

Outside the home, other areas of high risk for sexual assault are at school and at work where women are placed in submissive situations as employees or students. (Informe Especial “Adolescentes: Vulnerabilidad y Violencia”) (Extracto del Informe Nacional Sobre Violencia y Salud)

Not even going to and from school and work is without risk. Nearly 40% of women over the age of 15 have suffered some sort of public sexual aggression. Of these women, 92% have been victims of sexual intimidation and 42% have been sexually abused in public. (Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares 2006 (ENDIREH).  In Mexico City, 65% of women who use public transportation have been sexually harassed or assaulted. (The Pink Ghetto of Women’s Issues in Mexico: From Rape Whistles to Subway Cars) Between 2010 and 2015, 3 million incidents of sexual were reported. (Mexico City’s Plan To Fight Sexual Assault: Whistles On The Subway) (Mexico City Ridiculed for Sexual Harassment Fight With Whistles)(Teen’s death provokes anger across Mexico)(The Most Dangerous Place for Mexican Women is In the Streets)

Fleeing the violence of their home countries also puts women in a vulnerable position. Six out of every 10 female migrants are sexually assaulted during the course of their travels.  Being picked up by border patrol does not guarantee freedom from sexual assault.  In one survey in 2006, 23 out of 90 women already detained reported being raped while in custody, more than half indicating the aggressor was a US state official. (Sexual assault of migrants from Latin America to the United States)(Why So Much Violence against Migrant Women?)

Mexico has laws to protect women. Although abortion is illegal in this Catholic country, the Official Mexican Standard 046, in effect since 2005, stipulates that in case of violation, “the institutions providing health care services must offer immediately and up to a maximum of 120 hours after the event occurred, emergency contraception “and are obliged to” provide medical abortion services ” Yet victims are often denied this right. (Teenage rape victim denied abortion in Mexico after judge rules attack was ‘consensual’ ) What can you expect from officials who claim the high rate of teenage pregnancies are due to “irresponsibility among females and inattention on the part of the heads of families” negating any responsibility of the male half of the equation? (In OECD Mexico no. 1 for teen pregnancies)

The State of Mexico has the most severe penalties for rape, 40 to 70 years in prison. In Quintana Roo the sentences are from 30 to 50 years and in Morelos and from 20 to 25 years. Shorter sentences are found in Coahuila and Durango, with sentences between 3 and 8 years of prison, and in Zacatecas, 4 to 10 years. In Coahuila, rape carries a penalty of 14 to 21 years in prison, but if it is a homicide conviction, sentences are only from 7 to 16 years, leading to an increase of femicides in the area (See Ni Una Mas).(Protocolo de investigación de los delitos de violencia sexual hacia las mujeres, desde la perspectiva de género)  Despite these reforms, only 3 out of every 100 rapists brought to trial are found guilty. (Lo mejor de Animal Político 2016: Solo 3 de cada 100 ataques sexuales en México se castigan)  

Recently, a rapist was found not guilty because he claimed he was not sexually satisfied. (When Rape Culture Meets Impunity In Mexico) Twenty-five of 32 Mexico states do not consider sexual assault of minors a grave offense. (En 25 estados, el abuso sexual infantil es cosa menor; no lo consideran delito grave) Baja California, Campeche, Durango, and Sonora will drop rape charges if the rapist marries his victim. (More Than 1 in 5 Women Are Married Before They’re 18 in Mexico) (Matrimonios y uniones tempranas de ninas)

Mexico is also the leader in child pornography distribution and the second-largest producer of child pornography worldwide.  An estimated 20,000 children in Mexico are victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation each year. There are over 12,300 Mexican internet accounts that provide photographs and videos of children being sexually abused.  Veracruz has the highest incident of this, targeting girls between 11 and 15 years of age.  There is evidence that the governor himself is involved in these transactions, although he has yet to be charged. (12,000 child porn sites identified in MX)(‘Sex brokers’ in Tijuana connect men looking to exploit very young children, FBI says)(Child pornographer link probed in Chapala) (‘How Did I Get Here?’ — A Photographer Captures Women in Mexico’s Brothels)

With statistics like those above, is it any wonder that empowerment movements like Ya No Nos Callamos Mas and Me Too are growing? Perhaps if enough women scream, perhaps if enough women protest, perhaps if enough women insist on their rights to their own body…..but that’s only half the battle.  Rapists, abusers, and child molesters must be held accountable for their actions. And that’s not likely to happen soon, at least not here in Mexico.

Resources for Women in Mexico

Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INMUJERES)

Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (imumi)

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (En Espanol)


From Surviving to Thriving: Recovery Guide for Survivors of Abuse by Robert Gallagher

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass

Other resources

Men Can Stop Rape

National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center

Communities Against Violence Network (CAVNET)

To the Survivors: One Man’s Journey as a Rape Crisis Counselor with True Stories of Sexual Violence by Robert Uttaro



Filed under Cultural Challenges, Safety and Security