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The other pandemic in Mexico: Locked down with an aggressor

Despite being ignored by authorities, domestic violence is a problem that has increased considerably in Mexico since the beginning of the global pandemic.

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After the macho declarations made by AMLO last week, as well as his denials back in May against domestic violence by arguing that “90% of the calls were false,” the testimonies of the victims and statistics presented by INEGI show the opposite.

“The Shadow Pandemic,” as it has been called by the United Nations, refers to the increase in cases domestic violence against women that have occurred since May, when people were forced to stay home because of COVID-19.

Quarantine and social distancing have intensified the risk for women who live with aggressors. 

As a result, phone calls asking for help have increased 80% since the beginning of the pandemic, showing that staying home is not the safest option for them.

In an investigation by El País México, called “Confined with the aggressor” (Confinadas con el agresor), different testimonies from women who have suffered domestic violence during the isolation are recounted. 

The deep dive presents stories from victims who have suffered some kind of gendered aggression during the past months, as well as the insufficient help they got from the authorities. 

Mexico is a country where domestic violence has been historically ignored and, like any other Mexican bureaucratic system, response is slow and generally ineffective. 

The same thing that has happened with statistics regarding COVID-19 cases has happened with femicide and domestic violence against women. The measurements have not been accurate enough and numbers do not match the reality of the problem. 

According to El País México: “Cases of gender-based violence are far more widespread than reported because those who dare to report are only a fraction of those who suffer violence.” 

Although more than 30% of women's deaths have occurred in their own homes, these deaths are not taken into account as femicides. Yet, Mexico averages a total of 10 femicides per day, and since January of this year, more than 1,600 women have been murdered.

To this must be added that women who dare to report domestic violence are often hindered by an unreliable judicial system which, using the pandemic as an excuse, has been operating at less than half capacity the last couple of months. 

Such is the case for Greta, a 43-year-old woman that was kidnapped by her ex-husband for more than six months. However, the evidence from the security videos hasn't been enough and more than two years since she first presented her plea, her ex-husband remains free. 

A similar situation happened during the death of a woman named Liliana, who appeared one morning hanging from a tree in her backyard. Despite the testimony of a child pointing to his dad as the author of the crime and footprints on the floor indicating the victim had been dragged, forensics filed the case as a suicide, leaving the man free from charges.

The cases mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg of a bigger problem in a country where authorities leave investigations incomplete and women end up being re-victimized for such events.

As stated by the United Nations, domestic violence against women is the other pandemic Mexico has to deal with.

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