Children in Mexico face a difficult environment with gender violence

The threat of gender violence for millions of girls is added to the harsh development path of childhood in Mexico, aggravated by the insecurity that plagues the country, as reflected in the recent murder of Fatima, seven years old.

In their growth, Mexican infants face all kinds of problems from solo migration to abuse or even malnutrition or obesity, according to a study presented in January by the Network for Children's Rights in Mexico (Redim) .

And these factors are added insecurity - in a country that averages 98 daily murders - and whose most recent expression has been the feminicide of Fatima, a seven-year-old girl who was taken from school and days later was found , murdered and outraged, in a crime that has shocked the country.

In this case, the chain of carelessness, fragility of the family nucleus and failures of a society that has failed to act together as a system of integral protection for each girl became evident, said the National System of Integral Protection of Girls, Boys and Adolescents (Sipinna),

Dora Giusti, Head of Protection at UNICEF, told Efe on Wednesday that "we definitely have a phenomenon that affects children in different spaces in their daily lives, and that has great repercussions on their lives in the short and long term."

These, he said, pose a threat to his physical and emotional life. "It can have damage at the personality level, at the development level: it is a public health concern," he said.


Violence affects children in different settings, he said, and listed that 6 out of 10 children aged 1 to 14 have experienced violent discipline or corporal punishment. Adding that, according to their data, there are four deaths of minors every day and that 43% of adolescents aged 15 to 18 have experienced forms of sexual violence.

In Mexico, there seems to be no safe spaces for infants because violence hits them at school, in the community and at home. "In general, it is a rule that violence is perpetrated by people closest to children," Giusti said.

Outside the home, children have economic, poverty, street situation, employment vulnerabilities; and there are even teenagers who join or marry in relationships at an early age, with negative consequences for their schooling and leading to teenage pregnancies.

And it is that according to Giusti violence is a widespread phenomenon in the country, with high rates of violence and crime, normalization of violence and high levels of impunity

In all this, "children who are in the development stage need a protective environment if they are not particularly exposed, they are victims of violence by close people," said the expert.

A new manifestation of violence against children emerged with the phenomenon of migration and caravans that have arrived in Mexico since 2018.

"We have seen an increase in child migration, accompanied or not, from 2013 to 2015 the number of unaccompanied children tripled and came back up with the caravan phenomenon and last year we had more than 50,000, one third unaccompanied, he said .

As a solution perspective, the State must design a comprehensive containment and prevention policy and invest in support of families to strengthen the environment, work in schools and when episodes already occur, institutions need to respond, said the expert.


The study "Childhood and adolescence in Mexico. Between invisibility and violence" of 2019, published last January by the Redim, points out that the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has the historical opportunity to achieve a profound change if he constructs an alternative with the nine commitments he signed when he was a candidate.

The report is very blunt with violence against women and feminicides (gender-based killings). He notes that between 2015 and July 2019, 317 of the 3,297 registered femicides in the country were minors, between 1 and 17 years old.

"During 2018, there were an average of 7 murders a month against girls and adolescents, and so far in 2019, 59 femicides are recorded, an increase to 8 femicides each month," the document said.

Now this tragic statistic has been added the murder of Fatima, whose body appeared inside a bag in the south of the capital and, as confirmed by the prosecutor's office, showed signs of violence and sexual abuse.


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