Female Police Officers in Mexico: The Other Victims of Violence

         Last March, the Mexican NGO Causa en Común, presented the report “Being a Police Woman in Mexico”. This was the result of 300 polls, six focus groups, and five workshops performed at official police institutions of the State of Mexico (one of the 32 states that compose the Mexican Republic) and Netzahualcoyotl (one of the 125 municipalities of the State of Mexico) [1]. The polls focus groups and workshops were about gender education, equality, non-discrimination, and normativity regarding these subjects. The main goal was to generate consciousness, for men and women that are part of police forces, about gender-based violence and discrimination inside the corporations; as well as to create suitable recommendations that allow improving and obtaining equal work conditions for women that are part of police forces in Mexico.

        The outcomes were as follows: seven out of 10 Police Women have suffered gender-based violence while studying at the police academy before becoming part of the corporation; while four out of 10 have suffered or witnessed some type of harassment or discrimination inside the corporation. Some of the workshops’ main findings highlight the fact that there is a normalization of gender-based violence against Police Women; that sexual and workplace harassment are continuous; and that there is a general mistrust to report these offenses, either by a lack of knowledge of the processes, for fear to get some kind of retaliation, or for the lack of sanctions inside the corporations, which in most cases are non-existent.

        Another poll applied also by Causa en Común in 2019 to 5,000 police officers –men and women- in 28 states of Mexico, showed that 35% of Police Women have received sexual offensive comments; 17% has received messages or pictures with sexual advances or insults; 14% has received straight sexual advances; 10% has been threatening for deny having sexual relations, and 7% has suffered fondling or groping. In addition, five out of 10 Police Women thinks that there is discrimination inside the corporation, while three out of 10 do not compete for promotions since they are considered as unequal. As a result, only two out of 10 have received a promotion.

        These outcomes are not isolated; this case is a reflection of the general situation that Mexican women go through on a daily basis. According to the National Crime Victimization and Perception Survey, in 2019 for every sexual crime committed against men in Mexico, 11 are committed against women. On the other hand, according to the National Survey on Household Relationship Dynamics, 22% of Mexican women have been discriminated at the work sphere throughout their lives. These are some isolated examples that can give a general idea about being a woman in Mexico. This is only the surface … but let´s go back to the main subject of this article.

        The creation of public policies that protect and guarantee equal access and conditions for women to jobs that historically have been created for men is mandatory. In this sense, police institutions should create adequate programs that link family life with professional development, which would allow more women to have access to command posts. Policewomen have also made emphasis on the lack of nursery services, which would also help to combine extensive working hours with the time they spend with their children since most of the interviewed women were single mothers and heads of the family. Indeed, women in Mexico, no matter the profession, have been at a disadvantage compared to men, especially at the professional level. Until now, Police Women do not have a dignified space in order to perform their duties, since they don´t have dorms, resting areas, or even exclusive restrooms (It is worth mentioning that working hours for police corporations in Mexico are in average 24×24 shifts).

         Regarding the general recommendations of the report, the most remarkable are: 1) Keeping current training workshops and focus groups for both, men and women, about gender education and non-discrimination. 2) Motivating complaints and reports, and making correct follow-ups and adequate processes of investigation for cases of sexual and workplace harassment, protecting at every time the victim´s integrity, and guaranteeing no retaliation for whistleblowers. 3) Adapt the related normative as codes of conduct for police institutions. Only making sure that all equal conditions exist and are accomplished there will be a holistic security strategy, as well as significant results in combat against corruption and impunity. While women are lagged in some or many aspects of public life, there will be no country that can accomplish full peace or development.

The whole study in Spanish can be consulted in the following link: http://causaencomun.org.mx/beta/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ser-mujer-polic%C3%ADa-Estudio-1.pdf  

[1] Each of the 32 states composing the Mexican Republic has its own official police body; same as every one of the municipalities composing each state.


WhatsApp Image 2020-06-18 at 10.29.48 PMAbout the author:

Teresa García was born and raised in Mexico City. She holds a BA in International Relations and a MA in International Law and Human Rights by the U.N. mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. After getting her BA, she moved to New York where she was an intern at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the U.N. She has worked at the Office of the President, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Public Administration, always with a human rights perspective. While studying her MA, she was able to specialize in migration issues. She was part of the Refugee Protection and Transference Project, held by University for Peace, UNHCR, and IOM Costa Rica, where she created a health education program focused on familiar nutrition, utilization of resources, and environmental care for refugee families. After going back to Mexico, she was an intern at the Unit of Durable Solutions at UNHCR and after a short time, she was hired as a Durable Solutions Assistant at the UNHCR Field Office at Tapachula, in the southern border of Mexico. Currently, she works at “Causa en Común”, Mexican NGO specialized in public security and justice issues. For her, feminism is in every aspect of her life; she works every day for the eradication of a patriarchal society, which she truly believes can be progressively changed through small daily actions.

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