(WOMENSENEWS)–The failure to address 10 years of killings and abductions of women in the state of Chihuahua casts doubt on the sincerity of the Mexican government’s investigation, Amnesty International said in a report issued Monday.
“The pervasive failure of the authorities to address these cases is tantamount to tolerance of them,” Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, told reporters after a visit to Ciudad Juarez where she met mothers of missing and murdered women.
Official figures indicate that 70 women remain missing in Ciudad Juarez, and more recently, in the city of Chihuahua. Information from other sources puts this figure at 400 women missing since 1993.
An investigation by Amnesty International found that in the last 10 years approximately 370 women have been murdered, of which at least 137 were sexually assaulted prior to their death. A further 75 bodies have still not been identified.
Amnesty International has documented delays in the initial efforts to locate the missing women, a failure to follow up crucial evidence and witness statements, and the fabrication of evidence and use of torture against detained suspects. In other cases, the forensic examinations carried out have been inadequate, with contradictory and incorrect information being given to families about the identity of bodies, thereby causing further distress to them and disrupting their grieving process.
Many of the murdered women were abducted, held captive for several days and subjected to humiliation, torture and sexual violence before dying, most as a result of asphyxiation caused by strangulation or from being beaten. Their bodies have then been found hidden among rubble or abandoned in desert areas near the cities.
A significant number of the missing or murdered women were employed in assembly plants. Waitresses, students or women working in the informal economy have also been targeted by the assailants.
“It is shameful that in the first few years after the abductions and murders began, the authorities displayed open discrimination towards the women and their families in their public statements,” Kahn said. “On more than one occasion the women themselves were blamed for their own abduction or murder because of the way they dressed or because they worked in bars at night.”
The state authorities claim that most of the murders have been “solved.” According to their figures, 79 people have been convicted.
— Alexandra Poolos.
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