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11 September 2020


Mexico: Domestic violence, including treatment of survivors of domestic violence; legislation; protection and support services available, including psychological services, particularly in Mexico City and Mérida (2017–September 2020)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview
1.1 Violence Against Women or Gender-Based Violence

Sources report that gender-based violence is common in Mexico (Freedom House 4 Mar. 2020; UN 24 Aug. 2018, para. 87; Amnesty International 27 Feb. 2020). In its Concluding Observations on the Ninth Periodic Report of Mexico, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) notes that "the persistence of high levels of insecurity, violence and organised crime in [Mexico] … is negatively affecting the enjoyment by women and girls of their human rights" (UN 25 July 2018, para. 9). Sources report that the average of 10 women who were killed per day in 2019 remained unchanged in [January] 2020 (FP 20 May 2020; Milenio 26 Feb. 2020). The New York Times also reports that an average of 10 women were killed each day in 2019 and adds that this rate represents an increase from 7 killed per day in 2017 (The New York Times 26 Dec. 2019).

However, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor-researcher at the Colegio de Mexico in Sociology noted that the situation regarding violence against women is changing slowly thanks to governmental and civil society actions (Professor 13 Aug. 2020). Similarly, CEDAW notes the Mexican state's efforts to "overcome the general climate of violence and promote women's rights" (UN 25 July 2018, para. 9).

Milenio, a national Mexican newspaper, specifies that 247 women were victims of manslaughter, while 73 cases were considered femicides, for a total of 320 women killed in January 2020 (Milenio 26 Feb. 2020). The same source further indicates that the state of Guanajuato had the highest rate that month with the murders of 53 women, followed by the state of México with 26 cases, Jalisco and Oaxaca who recorded 22 cases each, Michoacán with 19 cases and Baja California with 14 cases (Milenio 26 Feb. 2020). In addition, 4,588 cases of intentional injuries to women were registered in January 2020 (Milenio 26 Feb. 2020).

According to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SESNSP) [1], from January to July 2020, 1,674 women were victims of manslaughter in Mexico, mostly in Guanajuato (276), Mexico (153) and Chihuahua (152), while another 549 women were victims of femicide, mostly in Mexico (80), Veracruz (52) and Mexico City (41) (Mexico 25 Aug. 2020, 15, 27). The same source further adds that there have been 33,022 intentional injuries to women from January to July 2020 (Mexico 25 Aug. 2020, 36).

The Mexico representative for UN Women, cited by the New York Times, stated that the increase of violence against women is also linked to the "growing power of organized crime," pointing to an increase in sex trafficking and disappearances that she said was "likely tied to gangs" (The New York Times 26 Dec. 2019).

1.2 Domestic Violence

The 2016 National Survey on the Dynamics of Household Relationships (Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinámica de las Relaciones en los Hogares, ENDIREH) found that 42 percent of married women over 15 years old and 59 percent of separated, divorced, or widowed women have experienced situations of emotional or economic abuse, or physical or sexual violence in their current or previous relationship (Mexico 22 Nov. 2018). The same source reports that 64 percent of the women victims of domestic violence have experienced severe or very severe violence at the hand of their spouse or partner (Mexico 22 Nov. 2018). According to Intersecta, a Mexican feminist organization, based on data from the ENDIREH, 40.1 percent of women reporting having been victims of domestic violence during their last relationship have experienced emotional violence, 20.9 percent have experienced economic violence, 17.9 percent have experienced physical violence and 6.5 percent have experienced sexual violence (Intersecta 7 May 2020). The same source adds that cases of domestic violence represent the second-highest number of criminal investigations in the country, even if, according to ENDIREH data, 78.6 percent of domestic violence victims did not request any support from institutions and did not file any complaint (Intersecta 7 May 2020).

According to the report by the National Network of Shelters (Red Nacional de Refugios) and by Fundar, Centre of Research Analysis (Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación, Fundar), an independent research center focusing on public policies (Fundar 24 June 2014), submitted to the CEDAW, the following federal entities report the highest proportion of women victims of domestic violence: México state, Mexico City, Aguascalientes, Jalisco and Oaxaca (Red Nacional de Refugios and Fundar 8 June 2018, 3). In a report on the Warning of Violence Against Women (Alerta de Violencia de Genero contra las Mujeres, AVGM) (see section 3.3 of this Response for more information), the National Commission for Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) reports that according to the ENDIREH, 45.2 percent of women over 15 in Yucatán have experienced domestic violence in their current or last relationship (Mexico [Oct. 2017], 182). The same source indicates that in Mexico City, 52.6 percent of women over 15 have experienced violence in their relationship (Mexico [Oct. 2017], 195).

1.2.1 COVID-19 Pandemic and Domestic Violence

Sources indicate that violence against women, including domestic violence, has increased in Mexico since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (Intersecta, et al. [Aug.] 2020, 5; Mexico 25 Aug. 2020, 113). According to Cuestione, a Mexican independent news website (Cuestione n.d.), the National Network of Shelters helped more than 11,000 victims of [translation] "domestic violence" during the two first months of the COVID-19 quarantine, an increase of 70 percent in comparison with the same period in 2019 (Cuestione 23 May 2020). The same source reports that all women who were helped by the National Network of Shelters during April 2020 experienced emotional violence and that [translation] "79 percent [of them] were victims of two or more types of violence, mostly physical or economic" (Cuestione 23 May 2020).

In a research report on violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic written by three feminist organizations [2], Intersecta et al. cite data from the SESNSP indicating that 103,117 calls were made to 911 regarding domestic violence, sexual violence and violence against women, of which 57.2 percent were made because of domestic violence, 19.3 percent were made because of intimate partner violence, 22 percent were made in relation to violence against women and 1.4 percent were made regarding sexual violence (Intersecta, et al. [Aug.] 2020, 10). In comparison, 85,019 calls regarding gender violence were made to 911 in April 2016, 92,618 calls were made in April 2017, 93,517 calls were made in April 2018 and 101,149 calls were made in April 2019 (Intersecta, et al. [Aug.] 2020, 10). The same study reports that in Mexico City, in May 2020, 1,739 calls related to domestic violence were made to the municipal Women's Line (Línea Mujeres), a 97 percent increase compared to May 2019 (968 calls) (Intersecta, et al. [Aug.] 2020, 10).

1.3 Societal Attitudes

According to the New York Times, in Mexico, women have been protesting the idea that "somehow – with their clothing, their demeanor, their whereabouts – [women] provoke the violence they suffer," which is an attitude "entrenched" in society (The New York Times 26 Dec. 2019). Similarly, Ernestina Godoy, Mexico City main prosecutor, quoted by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), argues that in Mexico, there is an "'environment of violence against women, where they brutalize [them], harass [them] on the streets, in [their] workplaces, and in [their] schools" (WSJ 4 May 2019).

The Professor explained that domestic violence between spouses is [translation] "normalized in large parts of Mexican territory and is found across all social sectors, although it is more present within population groups with less educational and material resources" (Professor 13 Aug. 2020). The Professor noted that the women's own family and social networks often held [translation] "misogynistic ideas and attitudes" and hindered the women's attempts to leave the violent environment through advice and actions rooted in a "traditional perception of gender roles within marriage, such as the duty to attend to and obey your partner, and to put up with attacks and abuses" (Professor 13 Aug. 2020).

1.4 Attitude of Authorities

Sources report that the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, stated that violence against women in Mexico was the result of neoliberal policies (The New York Times 31 May 2020; WSJ 19 Feb. 2020). Other sources indicate that during a press conference, the president was questioned on the increase of 911 calls reporting domestic violence during the COVID-19 quarantine and argued that 90 percent of those 911 calls were fake (The New York Times 31 May 2020; El Universal 16 May 2020).

In an article covering the fight against gender-based violence, the New York Times gives the example of a women's collective based in Ecatepec, a working-class suburb of Mexico City, who had been told that "there were no funds to protect women" during a meeting with the mayor and who had the director of Ecatepec's women's agency discount the reports of disappeared women in the area (The New York Times 26 Dec. 2019).

Sources report that in July, the federal government announced budgetary cuts to the National Institute of Women (Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, INMUJERES) as part of the austerity program put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic (The Guardian 22 July 2020; El País 15 July 2020). According to El País, a Spain-based newspaper, in April, the Ministry of Finance had also frozen 463 million pesos (Mexican pesos, MXN) [approximately C$29 million] of the 826 million MXN budget [approximately C$51 million] of INMUJERES, which has compromised the financing of several municipal and state organizations that fight against gender-based violence (El País 15 July 2020). Animal Político, a Mexican digital information media website (Animal Político n.d.), reports that in 2019, the Mexican president suspended the public funding to civil society organizations, which has impacted shelters for women victims of domestic violence (Animal Político 13 July 2020). The same source indicates that the government backed down because critics argued that the public system cannot provide the services delivered by the shelters (Animal Político 13 July 2020).

2. Legislation

Article 343 of the Mexican Penal Code (Código Penal Federal) provides the following:


Domestic violence (Amended, D.O.F. 14 June 2012)

ARTICLE 343 bis.- The crime of domestic violence is committed by a person who carries out acts or conducts of dominance; control; or physical, psychological, property-related or economic aggression; whether within or outside the home, against any person with whom he or she has or has had a relationship of marriage, consanguinity, affinity, adoption or cohabitation, or a couple’s relationship.

A person who commits the crime of domestic violence shall be sentenced to six months to four years in prison and shall lose the right to alimony. He or she shall also be required to undergo specialized psychological treatment.

ARTICLE 343 quater. In all the cases provided for in the two preceding articles, the Public Prosecutor's Office shall warn the alleged perpetrator to refrain from any conduct that could be offensive to the victim and shall decide upon the preventive measures necessary to safeguard the victim's physical or psychological integrity. The administrative authority shall monitor compliance with these measures. In all cases, the Public Prosecutor's Office shall request such precautionary measures as it deems appropriate. (Mexico 1931)

In addition, the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2019 indicate that among the 32 Mexican states, 29 have, in their legislation, similar penalties to the ones provided by the federal Penal Code, "although in practice sentences were often more lenient" (US 11 Mar. 2020, 22).

US Country Reports 2019 also indicate that femicide, defined as the killing of a woman because of her gender, is considered as a federal offense, punishable by 40 to 60 years in prison (US 11 Mar. 2020, 22). The same source adds that femicide is also recognized as a criminal offense in all states (US 11 Mar. 2020, 22). Similarly, Nexos, a culture and politics Mexican magazine (Courrier International n.d.), notes that femicide is defined as a crime that [translation] "deprives a woman of life for reasons of gender" at both federal and state levels (Nexos 11 Dec. 2017). The same source indicates that the length of imprisonment varies from state to state (Nexos 11 Dec. 2017).

2.1 General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence

On its website, the federal government indicates that it enacted the General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence (General Law) (Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia) on 1 February 2007 (Mexico 6 Jan. 2017). A research report on domestic violence and the state response in Mexico by Fundar notes that the law includes domestic violence as "one of the spheres where violence takes place" and that it proposes to coordinate "different institutions to prevent, protect, attend and sanction violence against women" (Fundar Apr. 2016, 18). According to a submission by Mexico to CEDAW, all 32 federal states have enacted their own legislation on women's access to a life free of violence (Mexico 2 Feb. 2017, para. 30). The same source indicates that the General Law was updated to criminalize femicide in accordance with the Federal Criminal Code (Mexico 2 Feb. 2017, para. 17). To oversee the General Law's implementation, Mexico has set up a national system to prevent, address, punish and eradicate violence against women, whose meetings are being chaired by the Minister of the Interior, "[f]or the first time" (Mexico 2 Feb. 2017, para. 34).

2.2 Effectiveness of the Legislation on Domestic Violence

According to experts participating in the CEDAW review session of Mexico's report, "none" of the protocols and laws related to violence against women have been "effective" (UN 6 July 2018). Similarly, US Country Reports 2019 indicate that "[s]tate and municipal laws addressing domestic violence largely failed to meet the required federal standards and often were unenforced" (US 13 Mar. 2020, 22). The Professor explained that the state agents responsible for the practical implementation of the law [translation] "do not have a gender perspective, are not committed to women or are openly misogynistic" (Professor 13 Aug. 2020).

According to the Human Rights Commission of the Federal District (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, CDHDF), although the federal district of Mexico City "has made progress in implementing the follow-up mechanism of the Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence," weaknesses exist in the recording of information related to cases of violence against women, for example the "lack of sufficient and specific budget" and the lack of transparency, representing "a problem for the effective implementation of these mechanisms" (Mexico City 2 Oct. 2017, 6). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. State Protection

Chapter II of the General Law provides for the creation of a "Comprehensive Program to Prevent, Treat, Punish and Eradicate Violence Against Women," which includes actions to "[p]rovide specialized services free of charge for the treatment and protection of victims, through public and private authorities and institutions" (Mexico 2007, Art. 38, V). According to the Fundar research report, the law

envisions the participation of three main branches of the government: the Public Health System (article 46), the National Women's Office (article 48) and the Special Prosecutor's Office also known as CAVI (article 47), at the federal, local and municipal levels. These institutions are mandated to provide immediate and basic protection as first and second levels of protection that are key to prevent violence becoming more extreme. (Fundar Apr. 2016, 19)

The source also indicates that in the public health system, workers detecting a case of domestic or sexual violence must report it, according to the mandatory protocol NOM 046, "which includes specific standards that medical personnel should follow for the treatment of women who have survived domestic violence" (Fundar Apr. 2016, 19).

According to a report on access to services for women victims of violence published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Office for Outreach and Partnership in Mexico, the following institutions have protocols in place to help women victims of violence reaching out to them: offices or secretariats for women and women's municipal offices, public security secretariat and municipal police, prosecutor or attorney general offices, health services, and offices of the Executive Commission for Assistance to Victims (Comisiones Ejecutivas de Atención a Víctimas, CEAV) (UN 2019, 30-45). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The website of the Attorney General's Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR) indicates that the Special Prosecutor for Violence Against Women and Trafficking in Persons (Fiscalía Especial para los Delitos de Violencia Contra la Mujeres y Trata de Personas) is the instance responsible for investigating and prosecuting federal crimes of violence against women and human trafficking, as well as of providing victims and their children with a [translation] "decent, safe and secure place to live temporarily if necessary" (Mexico 18 Nov. 2019). According to US Country Reports 2019, the Special Prosecutor's office employed 30 prosecutors, of whom 9 worked exclusively on federal cases of violence against women (US 13 Mar. 2020, 22–23).

3.1 Protection Orders

Article 27 of the General Law provides the following:

Protection orders are acts of protection and urgent enforcement based on the higher priority of the victim and are fundamentally of a precautionary and preventive nature. They should be granted by the competent authority immediately following knowledge of acts that probably constitute offences or crimes that imply violence against women. (Mexico 2007)

In its report to CEDAW, Mexico notes that the General Law was amended to reduce the legislated timeframe for issuance of protection orders from 24 hours to 8 hours (Mexico 2 Feb. 2017, para. 17).

According to the CNDH, emergency orders require that the alleged aggressor immediately leave the marital home or the place where the victim lives, and that the alleged aggressor cannot approach the victim's home, place of work or studies, or residence of a family member that the victim is known to visit, while prohibiting any intimidation attempts by the alleged aggressor (Mexico [2018], 36). The same source reports that states with a higher incidence of domestic violence are not necessarily the states issuing the most protection orders, and that the regulation of protection orders, [translation] "is fragmented, uneven and complex" and varies from state to state (Mexico [2018], 46, 73). Milenio reports that, according to the general coordinator of the National Citizen Observatory of Femicide (Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional del Feminicidio), protection orders are overregulated and authorities usually apply the provisions in the Penal Code instead of using the specific provision for protection orders in the General Law that do not require a complaint to be made (Milenio 26 Jan. 2020).

3.2 Reporting Domestic Violence

Sources indicate that violent crimes against women are underreported (OECD 7 Dec. 2018, 5; Cuestione 23 May 2020; Professor 13 Aug. 2020). Cuestione reports that, according to the director general of the National Network of Shelters, an estimated 90 percent of women victims of domestic violence do not make a complaint to the authorities (Cuestione 23 May 2020). Similarly, Intersecta states that, according to the ENDIREH, 78.6 percent of women experiencing violence by their partner will not reach out for support or make a complaint (Intersecta 7 May 2020). In its 2019 annual report on human rights in the Americas, Amnesty International notes that "the authorities failed to investigate [gender-based crimes] and perpetrators were rarely brought to justice" (Amnesty International 27 Feb. 2020). More specifically, El Universal, a Mexican newspaper with an English-language section, notes that, according to the last National Survey on Victimization and Perception of Public Security (Encuesta Nacional de Victimización y Percepción sobre Seguridad Pública, ENVIPE), 16,667,291 crimes were committed against women in 2018, and 15,609,239 of those were not investigated because the victims did not make a complaint or the authorities did not open an investigation (El Universal 5 Mar. 2020). According to a review by El Universal of the last four ENVIPE surveys, "only 7% of the crimes against women were investigated and, later, only between 5% and 7% percent of the alleged criminals were taken before a judge" (El Universal 5 Mar. 2020).

In the Cuestione article, the director general of the National Network of Shelters explains that the first concern of domestic violence victims is to move to a secure place, not reporting the violence, especially as the complaints must be made where the violent act took place (Cuestione 23 May 2020). El Universal indicates that data from the ENVIPE reveals the following reasons for the non-reporting by women of criminal acts against them: they perceive it as "a waste of time," they lack trust in the authorities, they consider the crime "not relevant," they have no evidence, they want to avoid long procedures, they fear their attacker, they face a "hostile attitude" from authorities, they fear being extorted, as well as other non-specified circumstances (El Universal 5 Mar. 2020). In their report to CEDAW, the National Network of Shelters and Fundar write that the fear of threats from the attackers and a lack of knowledge of the justice mechanisms contribute to the low percentage of reports of violent acts against women (Red Nacional de Refugios and Fundar 8 June 2018, 4).

The same source also indicates that women are discriminated against by the same public institutions included in the care mechanism provided in the General Law and to which they apply for protection, treatment and reparation of the violence they experience (Red Nacional de Refugios and Fundar 8 June 2018, 3). The Professor explained the following:


Civil society organizations that service women victims of domestic violence all point out that judiciary institutions are the least efficient of all those who work [on the issue of domestic violence] in Mexico. … This reality usually discourages many women from either making an initial complaint or going through the process. Sometimes this is due to the institutions having a work overload, other times, because of a lack of training, and many other times, it is because the institutional agents themselves share traditional and macho values. As a result, they hinder the care, punishment or reparation processes, re-victimizing the women or simply wear them down, by asking them to devote time and resources [the women] are lacking in order to follow unnecessarily complicated procedures; they waste their time or give them inadequate treatment, which results in procedural failures that end up invalidating claims and complaints. In many cases, even those who deliver justice side with the attackers, even more so if the latter have political power or influence, which results in more impunity. This puts women at greater risk of violence and inhibits them from speaking out or seeking support. (Professor 13 Aug. 2020)

The New York Times reports that "law enforcement officials and the authorities can be passive, complicit or in some cases even abusive toward women who try to report" violence they experienced (The New York Times 26 Dec. 2019). For instance, the Fundar research report on services for women experiencing domestic violence presents the case of a woman who tried to seek help from the police twice—once by reporting her partner at a police station and the second time by asking for help from a police patrol when she was thrown out of her house—with no success, the police refusing to write a report both times (Fundar Apr. 2016, 24). Sources also report the case of a seventeen-year-old who was allegedly abused by policemen after leaving a party in Mexico City (El Tiempo 18 Aug. 2019; DW 17 Aug. 2019). The WSJ notes in addition that, in several "prominent cases," the authorities have first investigated women's killings as suicides, which "places blame on the victim and absolves their killers of responsibility long before the facts of the case have even been determined" (WSJ 4 May 2019). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

In addition, the Professor specifies that women who are poor or financially depend on someone, and/or have little education, as well as indigenous women, teenagers, women with disabilities, or LGBT women are more susceptible to be [translation] "re-victimized" by authorities (Professor 13 Aug. 2020). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.3 Gender-Based Violence Against Women Alert Mechanism

According to the CNDH, the gender-based violence against women alert (Alerta de violencia de género contra las mujeres, AVGM) is a process [translation] "designed to address and eradicate femicidal violence" (Mexico [Oct. 2017], 6). Article 22 of the General Law defines the AVGM as "the set of government emergency actions to confront and eradicate femicide violence in a specific territory, exercised either by individuals or by the community itself" (Mexico 2007). INMUJERES also adds that in addition to addressing violence against women, the AVGM also aims to [translation] "end the inequalities arising from legislation or public policy that infringe on [women's] human rights" (Mexico 22 Jan. 2020). The same source describes the process to declare an AVGM as follows:

  1. Civil society organizations or human rights organizations present a request for an AVGM (Solicitud de Alerta de Violencia de Género contra las Mujeres, SAVGM).
  2. Appointment of a working group addressing the SAVGM. The working group is formed of representatives from INMUJERES, from the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence Against Women (Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Contra las Mujeres, CONAVIM), from CNDH, from the [translation] "State mechanism for women's advancement," and "four selected people by a public call: two national and two local academics."
  3. Field investigation by the working group, report production and delivery to the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB). The report includes the working group's conclusions and recommendations to prevent and address the gender-based violence. The state has six months to comply with the report's recommendations.
  4. The working group analyzes the measures taken by the state and reports to the SEGOB.
  5. Declaration of the AVGM by SEGOB who will publish the preventive measures to implement and the territory they will cover (Mexico 22 Jan. 2020).

According to Amnesty International, by the end of 2019, "there was no indication that the Alert mechanisms had reduced gender-based violence" (Amnesty International 27 Feb. 2020). According to a report evaluating the AVGM mechanism by the EU program EUROSociAL+, prepared for INMUJERES and CONAVIM, the mechanism encounters resistance by some state authorities who view it as [translation] "a sanctioning mechanism, a political tool and an intrusion of the federal government in the states' jurisdiction" (EUROSociAL+ 21 June 2018, 59). The same source also states that, according to the evaluation report, the AVGM mechanism has assumed a larger role than it was conceived for, which has resulted in less effectiveness and efficiency, and has threatened the mechanism's sustainability (EUROSociAL+ 21 June 2018, 60). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Support Services

The Fundar report explains that the General Law's Model of Protection provides four ways to access specialized and comprehensive protection services for women who suffer violence:

  • Directly, by calling the phone line of the National Network of Shelters where someone will briefly interview the victim, evaluate the extent of the risk she is living, and identify the appropriate shelter based on availability and distance
  • Indirectly, by transfer from the special attorney for domestic violence (CAVI) when a woman has decided to report there the situation of violence and the aggressor
  • Also indirectly, as a result of the victim receiving counseling from a special health unit that belongs to the Public Health Sector, and
  • Again indirectly, by transfer from the National Women's Institute (INMUJERES). (Fundar Apr. 2016, 23)

However, the same source reports that accessing support and protection services leads to institutional violence toward women already experiencing domestic violence, because public officers lack empathy and do not apply the law, thus becoming an obstacle to the victims (Fundar Apr. 2016, 26).

According to an article published on Plumas Atómicas, a web platform aimed at Mexican young people (Plumas Atómicas n.d.), the best option for women victims of domestic violence is to reach out to a Domestic Violence Support Center (Centro de Apoyo a la Violencia Intrafamiliar, CAVI), where the victim is given support (Plumas Atómicas 23 Nov. 2018). However, the Fundar report tells the story of woman staying at a Mexico City shelter who went to the CAVI to get help because of domestic violence and to whom the CAVI officers initially refused help because she did not want to report the violence she was experiencing (Fundar Apr. 2016, 26).

Plumas Atómicas indicates that, according to a feminist activist who supports domestic violence victims, the Public Ministry provides support that is sometimes [translation] "not the most comprehensive" and may refers victims who do not need immediate attention to the System for Integral Family Development (Sistema de Desarollo Integral de la Familia) where they are given a paper asking the aggressor "to come 'in a good mood' to resolve the problem" (Plumas Atómicas 23 Nov. 2018). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4.1 Shelters

According to the report submitted to CEDAW by the National Network of Shelters and Fundar, shelters and Centers for External Care (Centros de Atención Externo), in addition to providing confidential services and safety to their users, also offer integrated services such as psychological support, training and occupational workshops to promote women's economic autonomy (Red Nacional de Refugios and Fundar 8 June 2018, 4). According to El Universal, civil society shelters which receive women victims of "extreme violence" who need to abandon their home to survive represent the only organizations attending to their situation (El Universal 27 July 2019). The source adds that there are around 70 institutions in Mexico offering healthcare, psychological support, and legal advice to victims (El Universal 27 July 2019).

4.2 Mexico City

According to the website of the Mexico City Attorney General of Justice (Fiscalia General de Justicia Ciudad de Mexico, FGJCDMX), the Women Justice Centers (Centros de Justicia para las Mujeres) and Domestic Violence Support Center offer protection to women experiencing domestic violence (Mexico City n.d.a). There are three Women's Justice Centers in Mexico City (Azcapotzalco, Iztapalapa, and Tlalpan) and they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with [translation] "specialized, comprehensive and inter-institutional services"; they provide the following services:

  • Assessment of the situation of violence through an interview;
  • Psychological care for women and their children;
  • Primary medical care;
  • Legal guidance and advice on familial, civil, criminal and labour matters;
  • Representation and support of women during the application and the procedures for protective measures;
  • Workshops, social and educational programmes aimed at achieving social and economic autonomy;
  • Family Court: providing urgent protection measures in civil matters;
  • Civil Court: Preparing case record, if not involving a crime, and providing advice for civil complaint;
  • Public legal advice: guidance, advice or intervention in criminal proceedings, on the victim's behalf; and
  • Public Prosecutor's Agency (Agencia del Ministerio Público): investigates alleged criminal acts it is made aware of (Mexico City n.d.a).

The same source provides the addresses for the three centers as well as their phone lines, which are also monitored 24 hours a day (Mexico City n.d.a).

The CAVI offer [translation] "social assistance, psychological care, legal advice, legal follow-up in criminal matters, emergency medical care, processing of emergency protection measures" as stipulated in the Mexico City Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence (Mexico City n.d.b).

Further information on the availability and functioning of psychological services in Mexico City could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4.3 Yucatán State and Mérida (Capital of Yucatán)

According to the Yucatán state's website, women experiencing domestic violence can receive help through the specialized staff working at the Municipal Centres for Violence Against Women (Centros Municipales de Atención a la Violencia contra las Mujeres, CMAVM) (Yucatán n.d.a). The centers offer free and confidential social, psychological and legal advice and care, and, if needed, refer women to the relevant unit in the public administration (Yucatán n.d.a). In order to access the services, a woman must be over 18 and present a valid identification document (Yucatán n.d.a). There are 13 centers in several cities in Yucatán, including 2 in Mérida (Yucatán n.d.a).

The website of the Yucatán State Attorney General (Fiscalía General del Estado, FGE) indicates that women can access the Women Justice Center (Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres) [located in Mérida] (Yucatán n.d.b). The same source states that the following services are offered at the Center:

  • State Attorney General: in charge of receiving and investigating complaints related to crimes against women; issues emergency protection orders; provides specialized legal and psychological help to victims;
  • Defense Attorney for Minors and Family (Procuraduría de la Defensa el Menor y la Familia): provides institutional protection to minors at risks, through provisional care in shelters and provides legal, psychological and social assistance to women;
  • Women's Secretariat (Secretaría de las Mujeres): provides psychological and legal assistance, if needed; initiate the creation of workshops on violence's prevention;
  • Social Development Secretariat (Secretaría de Desarollo Social): provides professional and occupational training to the women attending the Center;
  • Education Secretariat (Secretaría de Educación): provides care in the children's playroom while their mothers attend the Center;
  • Health Secretariat (Secretaría de Salud): in charge of general and emergency healthcare for the victims;
  • Economic Development Secretariat (Secretaría de Fomento Económico): in charge of training and support aiming at women's economic stability;
  • Shelters: temporary safe place while a support network or a more permanent shelter is located (Yucatán n.d.b).

According to an evaluation of the Yucatán Citizen Observatory for Justice Centers for Women (Observatorio Ciudadano de los Centros de Justicia para Mujeres de Yucatán, Observatorio Ciudadadano) [3], the centre is understaffed and unable to fully provide all of these services (Observatorio Ciudadano [2019], 5). The same source indicates that the Center is located at the outskirts of Mérida, which complicates accessibility for its users, as the commute is long, sometimes taking more than two hours for some users (Observatorio Ciudadano [2019], 7). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


[1] The Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SESNSP) is a semi-autonomous government body responsible for the coordination and implementation of public policy between the various public safety authorities at the federal, state and municipal levels (Mexico n.d.).

[2] Intersecta is a feminist organization working on ending discrimination in Mexico by producing knowledge on discrimination and human rights violations from a feminist perspective, by evaluating discrimination in public policies and by promoting evidence and human rights-based solutions that take into account diversity (Intersecta, et al. [Aug.] 2020, 58). EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres (EQUIS) is a feminist organization working on "new ways to address gender-based violence and non-discrimination. [Its] approach goes beyond the use of criminal law and seeks to look at structural causes. [They] work directly with governmental and judicial institutions to offer proposals based on research and solid evidence" (EQUIS n.d.a). The National Network of Shelters (Red Nacional de Refugios) is a feminist organization made up of 69 venues of prevention, care and protection for women victims of violence; it also counts advocacy for substantive equality and women's human rights among its activities (Intersecta, et al. [Aug.] 2020, 58).

[3] The Citizen Observatory for Justice Centers for Women (Observatorio Ciudadano del Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres, OCCEJUM) aims to monitor the Women Justice Centers and to contribute to their transparency; it issues recommendations to strengthen those center and request accountability from local and federal authorities (EQUIS n.d.b).


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Animal Político. 13 July 2020. Itxaro Arteta. "Estados con más feminicidios se quedan sin presupuesto para alerta de género." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Animal Político. N.d. "Quiénes Somos." [Accessed 10 Sept. 2020]

Courrier international. N.d. "Nexos." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Cuestione. 23 May 2020. Shelma Cerrillo. "'Otros datos' de la Red Nacional de Refugios confirman aumento de violencia familiar." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Cuestione. N.d. "Acerca de Nosotros." [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020]

Deustche Welle (DW). 17 August 2019. "Police Rape Allegations Fuel Women's Protests in Mexico City." [Accessed 25 Aug. 2020]

El País. 15 July 2020. Almuneda Barragán. "El gobierno recorta el presupuesto del Instituto de las Mujeres y deja a los estados sin recursos contra el machismo." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

El Tiempo. 18 August 2019. "#NoMeCuidanMeViolan, mujeres en México protestan contra la violencia." [Accessed 25 Aug. 2020]

El Universal. 16 May 2020. Pedro Villa y Caña and Alberto Morales. "'Falsas, 90% de llamadas a 911 por violencia contra mujeres': AMLO." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

El Universal. 5 March 2020. Alexis Ortiz. "The Impunity Machine: Crimes Against Women Do Not Matter in Mexico." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

El Universal. 27 July 2019. Alexis Ortiz. "The Invisibility of Women Displaced by Violence." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres (EQUIS). N.d.a. "About Us?" [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

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EUROsociAL+. 21 June 2018. Bénédicte Lucas and Françoise Roth. México: Mecanismo de Alerta de Violencia de Género contra las Mujeres. Informe de evaluación del funcionamiento del mecanismo. [Accessed 1 Sept. 2020]

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Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación (Fundar). April 2016. Cecile Lachenal and Cecilia Toledo. Beyond Domestic Violence Laws in Latin America: Challenges for Protection Services for Survivors. [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

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The Guardian. 22 July 2020. David Agren. "Femicides Rise in Mexico as President Cuts Budgets of Women's Shelters." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Intersecta, EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres (EQUIS) and Red Nacional de Refugios. [August] 2020. Las dos pandemias: Violencia contra las mujeres en México en el contexto de COVID-19. [Accessed 20 Aug. 2020]

Intersecta. 7 May 2020. Adriana E. Ortega, Nicole Huete and Estefanía Vela Barba. "¿Fraternidad familiar?" [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Mexico. 25 August 2020. Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SESNSP). "Información sobre violencia contra las mujeres (Incidencia delictiva y llamadas de emergencia 9-1-1), julio 2020." [Accessed 4 Sept. 2020]

Mexico. 22 January 2020. Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INMUJERES). "Alerta de Violencia de Género contra las Mujeres." [Accessed 25 Aug. 2020]

Mexico. 18 November 2019. Fiscalía General de la República (FGR). "Fiscalía Especial para los Delitos de Violencia Contra las Mujeres y Trata de Personas." [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Mexico. 22 November 2018. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI). "Estadísticas a propósito del día internacional de la eliminación de la violencia contra la mujer (25 de Noviembre)" / Datos nacionales. [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Mexico. [2018]. Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH). Las ordenes de protección y el derecho de las mujeres a una vida libre de violencia (panorama nacional 2018). [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

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Mexico. 2 February 2017. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention. Ninth Periodic Report of States Parties Due in 2016: Mexico. (CEDAW/C/MEX/9) [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

Mexico. 6 January 2017. Comisión Nacional para Prevenir y Erradicar la Violencia Contra las Mujeres (CONAVIM). "Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia (PDF)." [Accessed 4 Sept. 2020]

Mexico. 2007. General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence. [Accessed 21 Aug. 2020]

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral de Personas Violadas; EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres; Fondo Semillas; Mujeres en Cadena; Red Nacional de Refugios.

Internet sites, including:; EU – European Asylum Support Office; Forbes México; Human Rights Watch; Indignación; Organization of American States; Red Nacional de Refugios; Reuters; UN – Refworld, UN Women.