No More Femicides (Ni Un Feminicidio Más)

Speeches Shim

Friday, July 29, 2022
Police officers patrolling in Nuevo León, México. Photo by: Fundación Idea. USAID/Mexico.
Fundación Idea. USAID/México.

Patrolling for women and girls free of violence

Rosalba and José[1] are first responders from the Specialized Unit for Women from the state police (Fuerza Civil) of Nuevo León, located in northeastern Mexico. Guided by their vocation to protect women and girls victims of domestic violence, they fulfill a very important task: serving as the first emergency contact for victims of this crime. Upon receiving an emergency call from the Central Radio, they head to the victims’ homes with the main objective of delivering comprehensive victim-centered attention to prevent the escalation and repetition of violence, and in the most serious cases, a femicide.

However, to accomplish the aforementioned, Nuevo León’s police units face various challenges such as the lack of practical guidelines on how to handle each case, specialized training, and the necessary skills to provide adequate attention to women and girls victims of violence. This has resulted in first responders handling cases based on their personal experience that, at times, is guided by misogynistic stereotypes and prejudices that can lead to re-victimization and prevent a prompt and effective response to victims. José shares that before, first responders would completely disregard the needs of the victims if they chose not to present a formal complaint against their aggressor, and continue with their normal work:

Before, because we did not understand these situations well, many colleagues used to say, "let him continue hitting her, she’s there because she wants to" and that was the end of their service. I'm not proud to say it, but we thought we were doing our job well, José said.

Nuevo León state has one of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in Mexico. In 2021 alone, the state reported the highest number of emergency calls for domestic violence[2] nationally and it ranked fifth for the highest number of investigated femicides.[3] Moreover, it is estimated that around 85 percent of domestic violence victims do not file a complaint due to fear, shame and, above all, distrust in the security and justice institutions.[4] Thus, first responders providing quality assistance can increase confidence in the authorities and open the door for increased access to available protection mechanisms by victims.

For this reason, since 2018, USAID through the No More Femicides (Ni Un Feminicidio Más) project, implemented by Fundación IDEA, has collaborated with Nuevo León state police and the municipal police corporations of Monterrey, General Escobedo, and Guadalupe to strengthen their capabilities to respond and prevent violence against women and girls, integrate the gender perspective into first responders’ police action, and respond to the victims’ needs and interests.

To achieve this goal, the project worked with police personnel, such as Rosalba and José, to create the Domestic Violence Protocol and facilitate specialized training to deal with these cases. These activities have provided first responders with practical tools that standardize the attention and channeling processes for victims. Additionally, the project has created spaces for individual reflection which, as José mentions, have permeated his personal life:

Now that we know all the types of violence against women and girls, we understand that no matter how “small” they are, they are wrong. This has allowed me to change my way of thinking on a personal level.

Similarly, Rosalba highlights that these solutions have allowed her to feel confident in her knowledge and skills when dealing with domestic violence cases. Today she recognizes the value of her work and the positive impact it has on citizens:

The tools really gave us a direction to know where to start and what is important to consider. I now have the confidence to approach the victims, it doesn't make me feel nervous anymore. I feel that I am doing my job well and doing my best to help women and girls victims of violence.

An example of the results of this effort is that during the Protocol’s implementation, the state police’s Specialized Unit for Women has attended to more than 2,200 domestic violence cases and has provided differentiated care to more than 1,500 victims, to whom they guided, accompanied in their decision-making, and channeled to specialized services. Rosalba and José consider that, during their time collaborating with the project, they have learned that one of the most important values ​​in the attention to victims is empathy:

Now we understand that victims live in an environment of violence, so we try to empathize with them, guide them, and tell them that it is not normal for their partners to hurt them. Our job is to understand in a matter of seconds that victims are suffering and that you are the first authority that is going to provide care to them, that in that moment, you are their support and their pillar.

Thanks to the impact of No More Femicides (Ni Un Feminicidio Más), one of the main responsibilities of the security and justice system has been strengthened: first responders’ police action. This project has allowed police personnel like Rosalba and José to professionalize their work and transform their perception of domestic violence, and ultimately, their role in addressing this pervasive crime. This has begun to pave the way so that no woman or girl victim of violence is left unprotected and that No More Femicides are committed.

 Police officers patrolling in Nuevo León, México.
Police officers patrolling in Nuevo León, México.
Fundación Idea. USAID/Mexico.

[1] Names were changed to protect the police officers’ identity. The interviews were conducted on July 15 and 17, 2021.
[2] 93,432 emergency calls to 9-1-1 due to family violence were registered in Nuevo León in 2021. Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP). 2021. “Information on Violence Against Women: Crime Incidence and 9-1-1 Emergency Calls.” December, 2021.
[3] 57 femicides were registered in Nuevo León in 2021. Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP). 2021. “Information on Violence Against Women: Crime Incidence and 9-1-1 Emergency Calls.” December, 2021.
[4] This number corresponds to the average of the total percentage of women who did not request support from any institution or filed a complaint or allegation for crimes of family violence (90.6%) and intimate partner violence (78.6%). National Survey on the Dynamics of Relationships in Households (ENDIREH). 2016.

Last updated: July 29, 2022

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