In Mexico City, women have occupied the office of the Human Rights Commission. They are angry because feminicide is rarely punished.
The graffito on the wall of an office of the Mexican Human Rights Commission (CNDH) leaves no doubt: “We will neither forgive nor forget”. In front of the building in the center of Mexico City, feminists and relatives of victims of sexualised violence make it clear on banners why they have been occupying the agency since Thursday. “Not another dead man” it says.
The commission’s rooms should become a haven for women who have suffered violence, explains activist Yesenia Zamudio. “We’re not going out, there are no negotiations,” affirmed the woman in her mid-forties, whose daughter was killed four years ago.
For years, feminists and victims’ members in Mexico have been fighting for the elucidation of the countless femicides and other forms of sexualized violence. Last year 3,788 women died a violent death. On March 8th, tens of thousands demonstrated, and one day later millions took part in a women’s strike.
Yet the government is not doing enough, say activists. The CNDH is also not doing its job justice. “We are tired of being treated as supplicants,” criticized Zamudio.
The occupation began after two mothers of victims of violence were put off because the authorities were again unable to produce any investigation results. They chained themselves and refused to leave. Members of radical feminist groups and relatives who have been attracting attention with a vigil in the city center since February came to support.
Their criticism is directed against government officials who downplayed the violence. The CNDH must give recommendations to the government and prosecutors to convey the seriousness of the femicides. Special public prosecutor’s offices must be set up and the criminalization of activists must come to an end.
Meanwhile the situation got worse. The squatters want to auction paintings that they have hung from the walls in the building. On Wednesday they put files in front of the door. You need the space to accommodate women who have suffered violence, Zamudio said. The CNDH pointed out that it was about “sensitive information”, such as protocols from victims. She asked for a dialogue.
While some of the squatters are demanding the removal of the head of the CNDH, others are hoping for talks with the responsible cabinet members.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who mostly downplays gender-based violence, reacted with incomprehension even now. He was primarily bothered by the fact that feminists had painted a painting of the historic revolutionary and President Francisco I. Madero. “This guy went down in history,” responded activist Zamudio. “And what about our daughters?”