Originally published: 15.06.15
Two women from Ciudad Juárez in the northern state of Chihuahua, were arrested and charged with provoking the abortion of one of the women’s fetus of five months gestation earlier this month. Both women do not have the resources to pay their own legal defense (they earn 700 pesos -3 pounds fifty in UK money, 42 dollars in US money a week as factory hands) and were assigned public defense barristers. In every stage of their trial their human rights have been violated and their dignity trampled on. Both women allege that they were tortured by police authorities in Juárez: local media reports that one attended her trial in a wheelchair due to the physical and sexual violence she has suffered. Yet, at their trial their lawyers presented no arguments to defend them from the charges. As a result they were found guilty on the basis of the confessions they had made to the prosecutors and have been provisionally released.
Sadly, the manner in which they have been treated is unsurprising in the context of Mexico’s inefficient and corrupt justice system. Evidence and confessions are routinely obtained via torture as the UN High Commissioner who recently visited Mexico was moved to note. As I have had cause to mention on this blog, Mexican state authorities tend to pursue charges of abortion with a commitment rarely seen in crimes against women. However, in the case of the two women from Juárez, the public prosecutor has also violated their human rights by exposing the women to public shaming and ridicule. After they were charged they were presented to the press, where details about their lives were revealed. It appears that one woman supplemented her income via the reading of tarot cards and the like. As a result, the local -extremely conservative- press has dedicated itself to publishing sensationalist stories about the “witch who told [her friend] to have an abortion” and “abortion induced via witchcraft“. Juárez remains one of the areas in Mexico in which women are regularly murdered and “disappeared” and where the indifference of the same police authorities who have pursued this case with such zeal have meant that very few of these murders and disappearances have actually been resolved or even adequately investigated. If the humiliation and torture of the women was not proof enough of Ciudad Juárez’s police and prosecutors’ institutionalized misogyny, the comparison in the treatment given to these cases only serves to underline the women-hating practices that inform everyday law enforcement in this part of Mexico. Source: Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE), “Puestas en la picota“, El Universal Blogs, 10 June 2015.