MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s lower house approved a bill that would categorize female homicides, or “femicides,” separately in the federal penal code and make the crime punishable by between 40-60 years in prison, legislative sources said.
The bill, which was passed Tuesday and will now go to the Senate, is part of Mexico’s efforts to comply with the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Sanction and Eradication of Violence against Women.
In June, Mexico City reformed its penal code to stiffen prison terms for femicide, or the targeting and killing of women based on their gender.
Amnesty International says the incidence of violence against women in Mexico is “alarming” and is due to “high levels of impunity and the lack of access to justice.”
Mexico has also come under heavy international criticism for the mainly unsolved slayings of more than 500 women since 1993 in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Most of the victims were young women from poor families who worked in the assembly plants, known as “maquiladoras,” that sprung up around the city to take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Many were sexually assaulted before they died.
This crime “is a reality that should make us ashamed,” lawmaker Maria Teresa Ochoa said during the debate on the lower-house floor, adding that, although Mexico lacks “reliable” statistics on the magnitude of the problem, an estimated 728 women were killed nationwide in 2009 and a portion of 2010.
The legislators agreed on the urgency of categorizing femicide as a separate crime in the penal code, saying it is necessary to prevent the murder of women.
The bill also would punish public officials who employ dilatory tactics during female homicide investigations with up to 10 years in prison and fines equivalent to up to 1,000 days of the minimum daily salary (about $4,600) and suspend them from office for up to 10 years. EFE