Of the judiciary of the 32 states, only five guarantee protection for women in the event of violence and gender-sensitive services during COVID-19 confinement, according to a study by the civil association Equis Justicia.
This is despite the fact that the federal government has warned of a possible increase in intra-family aggression, so it has included «essential services» for attention to violence against women, i.e. that should not be suspended.
The report «(De)Judicial Protection in COVID-19 times» analyzed announcements of the work that will continue to do or stop the local judiciary, and found that most stopped activities without guaranteeing actions such as spinning protective orders to victims, measures in case alimony is no longer paid, or the service of family cohabitation centres to see parents who are safe.
In an index built with six indicators and rated from zero to 100, only 12 features had 50 or more points. The worst cases are Baja California and Guanajuato, where their notices were limited to reporting that there will be no work. They were followed by Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca and Zacatecas, who did not reach 15 points.
Instead, the status best assessed by the organization was Querétaro, as it established that there will be guards to continue all its services. The others approved are Colima, Michoacán, Nuevo León and Baja California Sur. Mexico City was ranked 12th, with a rating of 50 out of 100.
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No guarantee of protective measures
Three of the six criteria evaluated by Equis Justice are the different ways of granting legal protection to women victims of violence, both through family and criminal courts, and the finding is that most judiciary are not guaranteed.
One such way is the «criminal protection measures», which are issued from the beginning of an investigation into someone accused of committing a crime, such as an attempt at femicide. First they are issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and then the Judiciary must ratify, cancel or modify.
In January and February 2020 alone, 33,645 family violence investigation folders were started, or 23.3 complaints per hour. And although UN Women, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Institute of Women (Women) have foreseen an increase in domestic violence by confinement, only five judiciary took into account the need to have staff to ratify these measures issued by MPs: Baja California Sur, Morelos, Nayarit, Querétaro and Tamaulipas. Eight other states implied that they would, although they did not make it clear, and 19 completely omitted information about whether or not they would.
Something similar happens with «family precautionary measures»; these are not for crimes, but for women who want to initiate or are in the process of a complaint, such as suing for divorce or guarding and child custody. The judge orders the husband to leave the home provisionally so that she can face the lawsuit without the risk of violence, or suspends the visitation regime if girls are considered a risk of assault. The report found that only seven out of 32 judiciary reported that they will have staff guards for these measures.
A third fundamental procedure is «protection orders», as they do not need a complaint or judicial process; the victim’s statement, if he is at risk, is sufficient for his alleged assailant to be ordered to distance, and in some cases a shelter is offered if the complainant is left in a vulnerable situation.
These also run by family or criminal means: in the first, 17 states did organize guards to issue them, but in criminal terms, only seven ensured that they have staff to issue them.
«The suspension of the work of the Judiciary, without taking into account measures to protect and prevent violence against women, increases the vulnerability to which they are exposed to a health contingency that puts them particularly at risk, hinders access to justice and represents a gender bias that shows that the judiciary is still far from understanding violence against women as a systematic and structural problem against which they also have strengthened constitutionals,» the study noted in its findings.
Read more: Health and Women’s Recommendations to Prevent Violence and Unequal Work During coVID-19 Emergency
Unprotection of daughters and sons
The association also considered the guarantee of payment of alimony to pay is important, because although the beneficiaries are daughters and sons, sometimes it can be used against the mother «when the aggressor withholds the payment of pensions with the aim of placing the woman in a situation of economic precariousness and thus retain a position of control over the family».
In this case there were a majority of states, 21, that will monitor that the pension payment continues. Although the organization noted that it is also important that the food trials that were about to start should not be paused, since in a period of economic crisis it is when it will be needed most.
Also thinking about the children, it analysed what will happen to the Supervised Cohabitation Centres, which provide a neutral space for them to stay in touch with a parent who has been accused of family violence. It turns out that virtually the whole country closed them during the contingency, and only two states, Chiapas and Querétaro, established alternatives for safe coexistences. Chiapas, for example, determined that videoconferences be used.
Finally, Equis Justice put the magnifying glass on whether the judiciary developed internal labour policies to ensure the needs of its staff. The vulnerable groups most considered to provide facilities were those over 60, people with chronic-degenerative diseases, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
But she lamented that only in 10 states were flexibility proposed or to exempt from guards those who derive from the COVID-19 health emergency, will face an additional burden of care work in their homes, which are usually women caring for girls, grandparents and the sick, and that the federal government has also warned of the importance of supporting them from the workplace.
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