A few weeks ago, there were news reports that six Spanish tourists were raped and robbed in the famous Mexican city of Acapulco.
The Spanish women were residents of Mexico and decided to take a vacation along with another Mexican woman and six men. The Mexican woman was not raped, and the six men were tied up while the violent acts occurred. The crime sparked international outrage, especially after Acapulco’s mayor Luis Walton Aburto said, “It happens everywhere in the world, not just in Acapulco or in Mexico.”
Later Walton apologized and promised that local authorities would pursue the matter until its conclusion. A week later six young men were arrested for the rapes.
As the story gained more attention, the media portrayed the Mexican woman’s nationality as a privilege because she was spared from rape. According to reports, the woman informed the attackers of her nationality and was absolved. But are we forgetting that, in recent years, Mexico has been on the frontlines when it comes to violence against its own women?
According to a UN report in 2010, Mexico was ranked first globally in sexual violence against women, reporting 120,00 violations that year. Mexico City-based think tank Consejo Cuidadano para la Seguridad Pública y Justicia Penal rated Acapulco the second most violent city in the world as of 2012. Additionally, a 2012 study by the Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Contra las Mujeres found that, in Mexico, “67 percent of women have been a target of a crime. As an example of the common occurrences that exemplify mistreatment against women … 27 percent of indigenous women that used public health services were sterilized without their consent.”
By mid 2012, 184,000 cases of sexual assault were reported in the state of Mexico. In Juarez, women continue to disappear, and 2012 was one of the years with the highest femicides in that city. Perhaps violence against women has become a natural thing in Mexico, or protection is granted only to the wealthy.
Why is it, then, that the story of the Spanish women has made more headlines than any of the Mexican women killed or sexually assaulted? It may be because tourism composes 10 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product and Acapulco is one of its top vacation spots. Mexican officials may not have wanted this to affect the economy, which is why six men were quickly arrested. The sudden arrests do not coincide with Mexico’s poor history of resolving cases of violence against women. Just in the state of Mexico, between 2005 and 2010, 89 percent of femicide cases have been unresolved.
As violence against women continues in Mexico, whether because of the war on drugs or domestic violence, the country has been desensitized regarding violence and forgotten about protecting its own citizens. With International Women’s Day upon us and with Congress passing the Violence Against Women Act, let’s celebrate the milestones of women but not forget those in other nations who have been less fortunate. We should continue to fight for a safer world for all women and men.