Sexual Violence in Mexico-Resource Pack

Since Mexico is Gustavus’s self-proclaimed country of focus this year, our group decided to follow the trend and focus on Mexico and its politics as it relates to sex and power.  Specifically, our resource pack explores the causes and effects sexual violence toward women has on the Mexican society and government.  Sex, Power, and Politics discusses how “the government has legitimized only certain individuals as political actors” and furthermore, deemed that “certain identities are politically relevant” in the government – the topic of sexual violence in Mexico continues this course theme.

The rise and persistence of sexual violence towards women in Mexico has caught the attention of the foreign press and human rights groups.  In Mexico, the government has failed to protect women to the same extent that they protect men from invasion and have played down the widespread cases of rape, femicide, and sex trafficking – especially amongst its poorest female inhabitants.  Furthermore, reporting on many of these crimes is considered “sensationalistic journaling” and thus illegal by the Mexican government.  As a consequence of this policy, the Mexican media is unable to publicize any of the injustices done to these women.  This resource pack informs readers of these injustices and allows readers to explore how sexual violence has led the Mexican government to choose only “certain individuals as political actors” – mainly excluding poor women from this exclusive category.

Another main theme of this course is the “historical, legal and cultural factors that help shape public policies related to sex (and) gender”.  Therefore, our resource pack has taken a special interest in how the Mexican government has resisted persecuting and criminalizing sexual violence.  For example, some of our resources are first person accounts of sexual violence, sometimes even violence committed by the Mexican police themselves, and describes the long legal process these women have had to endure to get justice for the crimes.  These articles describe how justice is found often in other countries and on the international stage as the Mexican government and legal system have a history of overlooking such crimes.  Through these documents and articles, we have provided the materials necessary to be able to discuss the legal and cultural elements of sexual violence in Mexico both from a historical and modern perspective.

You may notice that some of these source are graphic and direct about the specific sexual violence present in Mexico, yet we feel that these first hand accounts are essential in being able to relate on a fundamental level to the victims of these crimes.  Often sexual violence is analyzed through statistics and legal studies, and while these aspects are important, we feel studying sexual violence through an academic lens can obscure the reality of the issue.  The combination of both personal accounts and scholarly reports of sexual violence in Mexico will provide a complete picture of the issue that our neighbors to the south are dealing with.

Katie, Kaitlyn, Kyle, Mara, Marlene, Martin

Acharya, Arun Kumar. “Sexual Violence and Proximate Risks: A Study Trafficked Women in Mexico City.” Gender, Technology and Development 12.1 (2008): 77-99.

In this study about sex trafficking in Mexico, the researcher did in the field interviews with women involved with sex trafficking.  These women describe the false promises that were made to them once they started getting involved with sex trafficking and gives many details about how violent this business is.  Furthermore, this article discusses the causes for sex trafficking in Mexico and how the business draws from primarily poor and uneducated women for their business.  Not only are these women subjected to violence and abuse once in the human trafficking rings, but after they are declared “too old” by their pimps, they suffer long term physical and psychological repercussions.

Carroll, Amy Sara. “‘Accidental Allegories’ Meet ‘The Performative Documentary’: Boystown, Señorita Extraviada, and the Border-Brothel?Maquiladora Paradigm.” Signs 31.2 (2006): 357-396. JSTOR. Web. 1 Dec. 2009.

When looking for diverse sources, our group found it difficult to find many primary online sources that look directly into sexual violence in Mexico.  Carroll’s article analyzes two of these sources that we would have liked to show you directly but was unable to get electronic copies of – one is a video called Señorita Extraviad and the other is a collection of photographs by Bill Wittliff called Boystown.  Carroll uses these primary sources to describe the culture of the “Border” (between Mexico and the US) as a culture which treats women as erotic objects and perpetrates the sexual violence toward women.   While this article is very theoretical and can be a little verbose, we suggest viewing it if only for its reference to the primary sources/photographs and the conclusions the author draws from these sources.

Fregoso, Rosa Linda. “The Complexities of “Feminicide” on the Border.” Color of Violence: the Incite! Anthology.. ‘Ed’. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence . Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2006. Print. (Also found at:

This excerpt from Color of Violence: the Incite! Anthology discusses the trend of femicide in Mexico and how that is related to sexual violence towards women.  Furthermore, the author suggests that the reason for this violence is due to the culture’s tendency for overwhelming patriarchal systems.  This article goes on to discuss the ethnic and class relationship these instances have with sexual violence and implies that the sexual violence is tolerated because it keeps poor and ethnic women away from being involved in the government. This article suggests that the systematic murder of women is targeted at the most oppressed group of Mexican society: dark skinned women.

“Impunity for Sexual and Domestic Violence.” Human Rights Watch. 06 Mar 2006. Human Rights Watch, Web. 1 Dec 2009. <>.

This report from the Human Rights Watch describes the legal system in Mexico and the effects it has on cases of sexual violence in the country.  This report details the effects of sexual violence on women in Mexico. The Human Rights Watch argues that the Impunity for sexual and domestic violence in Mexico is “rooted in three main problems, underreporting and underestimation of the extent of domestic and sexual violence, an inadequate legal framework for prevention, protection, and punishment; and lax implementation of existing legal standards.”  This article discusses each of these problems in more cultural and legal details. Most importantly, this report explains how the legal system in Mexico has lead to widespread sexual violence and an absence of justice for the women of Mexico in both the legal and health systems.

Malkin, Elisabeth and Ginger Thompson. “Mexican Court Says Sex Attack by a Husband Is Still a Rape.” New York Times 17 Nov. 2005: n. pag. Web. 12 Nov. 2009. <>.

This newspaper article says that Mexican women are now legally defended against rape in marriage, but women still rarely report rape. From 1994 to 2005, Mexican law stated forced relations by a spouse were not rape, because the main purpose of marriage was procreation. Despite the legal progress of women keeping their sexual freedom during marriage, the majority of people believe women should be subservient. This attitude creates many obstacles to women reporting sexual violence, like rape within marriage.

“Sexual Assault in Mexico, on the Border, and in the U.S.” 26 11 2006. Web. 1 Dec 2009. <>.

This blog post was inspired by The Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology, which we have also used as a part of our resource pack.  The blog post quotes women testifying that the Federal Preventive Police have sexually assaulted them. This is happening not only in Mexico, but also in San Salvador, this is important to realize because while we are learning of problems in Mexico, the issues are not necessarily unique, and that is what makes the problems most troubling. The blog post also includes pictures of the military and how just because they are supposed to enforce the law, does not mean that they do not break the law and assault women.

“Mexico: Torture and sexual violence against women detained in San Salvador Atenco – Two years of injustice and impunity.” Amnesty International. 28 04 2008. Amnesty International, Web. 1 Dec 2009. <>

This Amnesty International report is important to our resource pack because it backs up the Delete the Border blog show before. We include both because we wanted to show that there are people blogging about the issue of sexual violence in Mexico as well as organizations who are aware of the situation. The Amnesty International report is different because it has paragraphs of accounts from women who were assaulted, as well as includes sections that include: Fatalities during the operation still unclarified, Torture as a means of control… and Inadequate investigations, as well as many others. These sections are especially important because they show that people are trying to speak out, however the results are not acceptable.

NorteSur,  Frontera. “Historic Femicide Trial Gets Underway.” New America Media. 05 May 2009., Web. 1 Dec 2009. < >.

This is a case study about sexual violence in Mexico. In Historic Femicide Trial, the article presents the legal side of sexual violence in Mexico.  The article discusses case of a group of Mexican women who were unable to get justice in Mexico for Femicide cases and thus took their case against the Mexican government to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Chile. In addition to the lack of justice that exists for these women, the government has been widely accused as having zero credibility for legal cases. The hope is that the result of this case will set a precedent for future cases about sexual violence against women in Mexico.

“Power” Art:21. Public Broadcasting Station. 2001.

Watch the part where there are 17:30-13:25 minutes left

This is a video about Krzysztof Wodiczko, a projection artist who addresses many social issues and more specifically “The Tijuana Projection” in Tijuana, Mexico in 2000.  This video shows parts of the projection project and has the artist discussing his motives for doing this project.  A quote from Krzysztof Wodiczko on the project, “The issues that were brought were taboo- of incest, rape- and issues of poisoning in the factories…irreversible damage to human health that, according to some major economic action groups in Tijuana, should not be public to protect the interests of owners of factories and corrupt politicians. Those hidden things came out so abruptly that I realized that this projection was not going to be easy for anybody. This was going to be a blast of truth that would be a shock to those who would like to be entertained.”

Speas, Adrianne. “Comment and Casenote: Sexual Harassment in Mexico: Is NAFTA enough?” Law and Business Review of the Americas 83 (2006). LexisNexis Academic. Web. 2 Dec. 2009.

This article explains that sexual harassment in Mexico is categorized as discrimination in the workplace. It specifically discusses how sexual harassment is commonplace in factories. The second section, as defined by the author, discusses influences to the prevalence of sexual harassment and how the Mexican laws do not adequately address sexual harassment instances. This is one of the few resources that could be located in English that talks about Mexican law related to sexual violence. Although sexual harassment does not always have to be violent, some sexual violence is included under sexual harassment. This resource may not be the most recent document, since it is from 2006, but it does do a good job of explaining Mexican law related to sexual harassment. The document is from the professional journal Law and Business Review of the Americas.

Uribe-Elias, R. “Sexual Violence and the Obstetrician/Gynecologist.” International Journal of Gynecology Obstetrics (2003): 425-433. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <>.

This medical article says gynecologist/obstetrician (G/O) professions should lead the social commitment against violence, especially sexual violence against Mexican women. This article includes the results of a survey conducted in Mexico on the opinions and practices of GOs. Since the gynecologist/obstetrician (G/O) professionals takes care of women’s health, especially the reproductive organs, the healthcare practitioners should work with the legal authorities to build up social support for sexually assaulted women. It is necessary to sensitize and train G/Os and other physicians in bio-ethics, and look for formal support of such activities in the legislative branch of Mexican government.

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