The number of women murdered in Mexico has spiked over the past decade as violence between warring drug cartels continues to spiral, a according to a new report.
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Research conducted by UN Women; Mexico's Interior Department and the National Women's Institute shows the annual femicide rate initially fell from 3.8 per 100,000 women in 1985 to 1.9 per 100,000 in 2007. That rate then rose to 4.6 in 2012 before falling slightly to 4.4 in 2016.
In total, as many as 52,210 women have been murdered in Mexico since 1985. Nearly one third of the victims were killed during the last 10 years.
Despite the North American country having specific laws in place to tackle the issue, the number of femicides has steadily risen over the past few decades, a reflection of Mexico's growing culture of impunity.
The state of Colima registered the highest rate in 2016: 16.3 per 100,000, according to the latest figures.
The vast majority of women were murdered in public, a trend linked by the report's authors to "to the increase in organized crime activities."
"The increase in killings of women in public constitutes one of the most important findings of this study, which explains a good part of the recent total growth of femicides in Mexico."
In 2004, the number of murdered women killed in public represented just over 25 percent of total homicides. By 2012, that figure had risen to 49 percent. In 2016, 41 percent of murdered women were killed in public.
Some areas have been described as hotbeds of crime, including Guerrero, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Morelos. Guerrero's resort city of Acapulco, on the Pacific Coast, recorded 107 femicides in 2016: more than any other municipality.
Following are Tijuana, in Baja California state; Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua state; Ciudad Victoria, in the border state of Tamaulipas; and Ecatepec de Morelos, a sprawling suburb just north of the nation's capital in the State of Mexico.
In an alarming trend indicative of Mexico's deep-seated misogynistic and patriarchal mindset, the majority of femicide victims were stabbed, strangled or beaten to death.
"Violence against women and girls — which can result in death — is perpetrated, in most cases, to conserve and reproduce the submission and subordination of them derived from relationships of power," wrote the report's authors.
"This means there has not been success in changing the cultural patterns that devalue women and consider them disposable, allowing for a social permissiveness in the face of violence and its ultimate expression: femicide."
In 2001, the court case Gonzalez, Monreal and Monarrez v. Mexico – also known as the 'Cotton Field' or 'Campo Algodonero' case –
became a landmark highlighting atrocities against women.
The bodies of three girls – Claudia, Esmeralda and Laura – were discovered in the cotton fields of Ciudad Juarez. Their mothers demanded justice for their murdered daughters. In return, they were repeatedly threatened by Mexican officials who demanded they withdraw their complaint.
The report highlights the need for "public policies to prevent violence and to achieve greater empowerment and economic autonomy for women, as well as eliminating the risks they face in public spaces.
"Among the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world, 14 are in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 12 women murdered every day. In Mexico, seven women were murdered daily in 2016."
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