High-Profile Case Highlights Problem of Rape in Mexico

A high-profile case involving the conviction of 15 former policemen on charges of kidnapping and rape in Mexico City has focused public attention on the lack of protection for rape victims in Mexico. In this case, two girls, aged 13 and 15, were abducted and raped by the police officers, then publicly harangued by the defendants’ supporters and the media.

Although in this case the officers were convicted, an atmosphere of hostility and shame prevents many other rape victims from ever filing charges. Investigators and lawyers often ask victims to prove that they were virgins prior to the rape and whether they “enjoyed” it. Women are frequently threatened by rapists’ relatives and friends, and accused by their own families of “provoking” the attack. One woman who identified the godson of the state attorney general as an attacker was illegally jailed and beaten by police. She later committed suicide.

Women’s rights organizations in Mexico have responded by calling for the implementation of laws that protect victims’ privacy. However, Rivera said, “As long as men continue to be taught that women are sex objects, something to have power over, nothing is going to change.”


AP - October 17, 1999

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