MEXICO CITY (WOMENSENEWS)–Five years ago Carlos, Jose and Fernanda Lopez say they witnessed their father and uncle drag their mother screaming to the bathroom, where she was choked to death with a rope.
The children now fidget restlessly on a futon, as they wait for their appointment with a child psychologist.
“We need to cure what’s inside of us,” said Carlos, 11, the eldest of the three siblings, on a recent afternoon.
After their mother’s death, the children were cross-examined repeatedly by police and assured by authorities it was suicide. When arrest warrants were finally issued one year later, the children received death threats from their father’s family, said Maria Antonia Marquez, the children’s grandmother and guardian.
“They’ve been through so much and there’s still no justice,” said Marquez, who lives with the children in Mexico State, which surrounds Mexico City.
Marquez believes key evidence, such as a bloody cable, went missing in order to protect her still-fugitive son-in-law, who is a member of a politically-connected family in Mexico State. The murder scene was left unguarded and was later set on fire, she says. DNA and sperm studies were not conducted and the children were improperly called by the judge to confront their arrested uncle.
Mexico State’s prosecutor’s office says that all procedures were followed correctly and that all necessary tests of the victim and crime scene were taken. But Marquez disagrees: “We have lived five years of impunity, corruption and misogyny,” she said.
Criminals Rarely Brought to Justice
The Lopez children share the fate of hundreds of Mexican families who have seen domestic violence spiral out of control and into gender-driven slaughter, often referred to as femicide. The case of over 400 female murders in the border city of Juarez may have put extreme gender violence on the map here, but the problem has been festering in various Mexican states for years. And, just as in Juarez, most of the criminals are never brought to justice, activists say.
As Mexico faces mounting criticism for a law-enforcement system too weak or corrupt to control soaring drug violence, female abuse survivors say a climate of lawlessness and impunity here is nothing new to them.
“We’ve witnessed this figure of a ‘failed state’ many times before,” said Yuriria Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Mexico City-based National Citizen’s Observatory of Femicide in Mexico, citing the controversial term some pundits have used to refer to a breakdown of law and order in the country. “What good does it do to have laws that protect women’s rights if they aren’t being applied?”
Nacha Cattan is a journalist based in Mexico City who has covered women’s issues for several news outlets. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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