Men in Mexican military camps are forcing indigenous women into prostitution, according to a report emanating from the most recent session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was held July 9-27 at the U.N.’s New York headquarters.
“The military strategy seeks to demoralize and debilitate indigenous peoples, as a means of terror and destruction of their ethnic territorial composition, and sexual violation should be recognized as a weapon of war,” said a report submitted to the U.N. committee and announced July 17.
The report cites cases dating from the present back to 2006, including 13 women raped by 20 soldiers in an incident during election campaigns in the U.S. border state of Coahuila.
Entitled “Indigenous Women in Mexico: For a Change of Paradigm,” the report was presented by the Central American and Mexican Indigenous Women’s Alliance. It is one of 18 independent reports submitted on the occasion of the Mexican government’s periodic performance review by CEDAW.
Indigenous representatives from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero asserted in a written statement that the “goal of the military occupations in their states and against indigenous women is to neutralize indigenous opposition to confiscation of land and territory.”
Mexico was one of eight countries reviewed during the 52nd session of the committee that has been in existence for 30 years. Also up for review at this session were Guyana, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Samoa, Bahamas and New Zealand.
CEDAW is a committee of 23 independent experts on women’s rights from around the world that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The U.N. adopted the convention in 1979. Countries that have become party to the treaty submit regular reports on their implementation. During its sessions, the committee considers each state party report and makes recommendations.
In accordance with an Optional Protocol to the convention, the committee also is mandated to receive communications from individuals or groups of individuals submitting claims of violations of rights protected under the convention and to initiate inquiries into situations of grave or systematic violations. These procedures are only available where the government concerned has accepted them.
In its case, Mexico accepted the non-governmental group’s input. “We appreciate the effort of civil society organizations in emitting their opinion and criticism for the Mexican government to live up to the convention,” said Mexican delegation chief Maria del Rocio Garcia Gaytan, president of the National Women’s Institute. “We value it, and the results that come out of it will be considered under our purview,” she said.
In addition, Gaytan noted, “We reaffirm our commitment as a state party to carry out the CEDAW recommendations to make life without violence and discrimination a reality for all the women who live in the country.”
“We recognize that impunity and backlogs exist in procuring and imparting justice for women, especially indigenous women,” she said in addressing the CEDAW.
The National Information Data Bank of Information about Cases of Violence Against Women, made up of statistics from all 32 Mexican states, registers 39,000 girls, adolescents and women who are victims of physical, psychological, economic, patrimonial and sexual violations, including feminicide, which has been typified as a distinct kind of homicide in Mexico, Gaytan noted.
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