By Oscar Lopez
MEXICO CITY, Nov 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Mexico on Monday vowed to crack down on gender-based violence as new figures showed killings of women rose more than 10% in the past year.
Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Mexico detailed its efforts to combat the scourge including training police on issues of gender and promoting national awareness campaigns on gender-based violence.
"The issue (of violence against women) is a priority for the government without a doubt," Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero told a Mexico City news conference, adding "We want to make a commitment today of zero tolerance as a priority issue."
Violence against women persists in Mexico, a conservative Catholic country where machismo reigns and traditional concepts of gender are deeply entrenched.
Government figures released on Monday showed murders of women increased more than 10% in just the last year, with 809 women killed between January and October specifically because of their gender, compared with 726 in the same period last year.
Femicide, as the crime is known, has been a federal crime in Mexico since 2012.
A 2017 report by the National Institute for Statistics and Geography found about 66% of women over 15 in Mexico had experienced some form of violence at least once and 44% had been abused by a partner.
Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said on Monday almost 125,000 women had been victims of violence in Mexico this year.
Durazo noted that the government had ramped up gender training among the nation's security forces, including the national guard which is now comprised of nearly 17% women.
The Security Minister said he would be signing a memorandum with the women's advocacy agency United Nations Women promising to "strengthen actions against gender-based violence".
Claudia Sheinbaum, the first woman elected mayor of Mexico City, noted that the capital declared a ‘gender violence alert' last week, a national program funding local governments to facilitate arrests and stem murder rates.
The alert system, launched in 2007, is typically activated during spikes in violence against women in order to mobilize law enforcement and judicial officials. Authorities in 18 Mexican states have also declared the alert.
Protests erupted in the capital in August after local media reported that two teenage girls had apparently been raped by policemen.
Sheinbaum said local authorities would be taking actions including registering sex offenders with DNA evidence and combating violence against women online.
The city would also take steps to help girls feel safer walking in city streets, she said.
(Reporting by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib; editing by Chris Michaud. (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.