Emergency calls on violence against women spiked in Mexico in 2020
Published: Jan 26, 2021 06:13 PM
Emergency calls related to violence against women in Mexico rose more than 30 percent in 2020, data published on Monday showed, as COVID-19 lockdowns kept families stuck at home.

In 2020, more than 260,000 emergency calls were made about violence against women compared to under 198,000 in 2019. Criminal investigations opened into domestic violence and other gender violence crimes rose.

Brochure on counteraction to domestic violence is presented during the opening of The Thing Is exhibition on domestic viollence within the framework of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence international campaign, Dnipro, central-eastern Ukraine, on December 1, 2020. Photo: VCG

Wendy Figueroa, head of the National Network of Shelters, said their members had seen higher demand for in-person help as well as via phonelines and social media. "Without a doubt there was an increase. They aren't just numbers, they're people, they're women's stories," she said.

Across the globe, women have reported increased rates of domestic and other types of violence during coronavirus lockdowns in what the United Nations has called a "shadow pandemic."

However, the report showed that the number of investigations opened in Mexico into some crimes against women fell in 2020, although Figueroa cautioned closer analysis was needed.

Many victims have found it harder than normal to report crimes during the pandemic, she said, as they are often unable to bring someone to accompany them and forced to queue up outside offices, potentially in full view of their aggressors.

In 2020, there were 940 reported femicides - the murder of a woman because of her gender - which was stable to 2019 after several years of sharp increases. Surveys by the national statistics agency  show two-thirds of women in Mexico have experienced some form of violence, with almost 44 percent suffering abuse from a partner.

Activists have criticized the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for slashing and delaying budgets for the National Institute for Women and for shelters.

Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero said on Monday that there were now clear protocols for how to investigate crimes with a gender perspective.

 She added  that a priority was an inter-institutional group that holds weekly meetings on the topic.