Jan. 2005 article
1/27/2005, "UN panel sees grave women's rights abuse in Mexico," Reuters, Irwin Arieff, United Nations
"A U.N. panel
accused Mexico on Thursday of "grave and systematic" rights violations
for failing to solve the killings of hundreds of women in the past
decade near the Mexico-U.S. border.
The U.N. Committee on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women said it was
"greatly concerned at the fact that these serious and systematic
violations of women's rights have continued for over 10 years."
The panel, in a report, "notes with consternation that it has not yet
been possible to eradicate them, to punish the guilty and to provide
the families of the victims with the necessary assistance." The
murder spree in Ciudad Juarez, an industrial sprawl bordering Texas
where many U.S. firms seeking to cut labor costs have set up
"maquiladoras," or assembly plants, has generated international outrage
but few convictions.
Some 320 women were the victims of unsolved murders in Ciudad Juarez between January 1993 and July 2003.
Suggested motives have included drug trafficking, trafficking in
organs, trafficking of women for sexual exploitation, domestic
violence, sexual violence and the production of violent videotapes.
Under pressure after highly publicized visits to the city by U.N.
investigators and U.S. lawmakers, President Vicente Fox has appointed a
special commissioner to oversee efforts to stop the killings and
The Mexican government, in a formal
response, acknowledged the murders "constitute a breach of women's
human rights" but said their origin "lies in entrenched cultural
patterns of discrimination." The problem was made worse by a
lack of staff and money, but that was being addressed and the
government "reiterates its commitment to continue these efforts," it
IMPROVING OR SPREADING?
But (UN) committee member Maria
Regina Tavares da Silva, who visited Mexico as part of the panel's
inquiry, said progress was slow and it was hard to say whether the
situation was improving or in fact spreading to other parts of Mexico.
"To a certain extent it is being addressed and it will take some time...due to a cultural environment that does not change overnight," she
told a news conference.
The committee issued the report 28 months
after two private rights groups, Casa Amiga in Ciudad Juarez and New
York-based Equality Now, filed a complaint under a 2002 international
convention that Mexico had just ratified.
have said it was difficult to tie together the many killings,
disappearances and other violence against women in Mexico's Chihuahua
state. Some rights groups fear some of the perpetrators might be
Americans who come to the area from north of the border. Mexican
authorities have been working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation on the problem since 1995.
The report said the
victims were by and large "young women of humble origins -- maquila
workers, students or employees of commercial companies -- who are
abducted and kidnapped and then either raped and murdered or made to
Even in the most recent cases, with authorities
more aware of the seriousness of the crimes, "the state of the
investigations is not entirely clear, and there are questions about the
effectiveness of the legal process."