Quintana Roo is the state with the most cases of violence against women throughout the country so far in 2022, above Chihuahua, Guerrero or Veracruz. In addition, Cancun is the municipality with the most reports of crimes committed against women, especially in its irregular settlements, without specific programs to address the problem, according to a cross-reference of data from a dozen public agencies and official documents.
From January to September, 36,582 cases of women were raped in Quintana Roo, according to the State Bank of Information Data on Cases of Violence against Women (Baesvim). By cases, explains Carmen Torres, the person in charge of feeding this database, the complaints filed or the services requested from any of the 11 state and municipal public agencies that attend to women who have been violated, either for the first time or recidivism, that is, women who were raped twice or more during the reference period, must be understood.
The rate yields almost 3,971 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which is four times that obtained by Nuevo León, the second worst entity for women this year.
There is a rebound in cases in the last triennium, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. If in 2013 there were just over 2 thousand cases throughout the entity, by 2019 there were almost 11 thousand, 2020 ended with 24 thousand 515, 2021 with 31 thousand 455 and 2022 already has in three quarters more than 36 thousand cases, the highest ever recorded.
“A lot of what happened in the pandemic is that women were locked up with their aggressors. Also, the impact on mental health in general was very intense. Not only because of the mourning and deaths, but also because of what it means to ignore what is going to happen, the uncertainty, which is very hard; Lose conditions of stability such as work and economic decline. And then also how shocking it was to live with the people of home 24/7 without escape, “says Vanesa González-Rizzo Krasniansky, president of Rights Autonomies and Sexualities (DAS Cancun), a feminist organization that works on issues of violence and sexual and reproductive rights.
For Cancun, Baesvim registered 13,568 cases in 2019, 16,227 in 2020 and 13,914 in 2021. So far in 2022, 19,355 have already been registered: a new historical record.
This means that, in 2022, six out of 10 cases of violence against women in Quintana Roo (57.6%) have occurred in Cancun, the most important beach tourist destination in Mexico. Psychological, physical and sexual violence has been the most common.
According to Celina Izquierdo, a professor at the University of the Caribbean (Unicaribe), dean of the feminist movement in Cancun, this violence has not only increased in incidence, but has become more bloody and lethal.
In 2009, Izquierdo and other researchers published the first Atlas of Crime Incidence, with a particular focus on gender-based violence. “It was based on the cases that reached the DIF, which was the only instance that dealt with violence against women. We took from files sheet by sheet and recorded who the person was, their origin, violence, and so on. At that time there were a lot of blows with the handle of the machetes, on the legs, arms, and also injuries with knives, which are instruments for domestic use. But then we saw how it began to transform into firearms and more acute physical violence. He changed from being afraid of blows to fearing losing his life,” recalls Izquierdo.
What the specialist said is echoed in what was reported by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP): from January to September, 10 femicides were registered in Quintana Roo. For its part, Baesvim reports that in the same months there were 133 women victims of organized crime and another 71 files for the disappearance of women.
Read more: The keys to the Court’s project to investigate femicides: National homologation, sanctions and reparation of damage
Violence in informal settlements
The highest incidence of crime against women in Cancun was far from beaches, hotel zone and downtown; It became entrenched in the periphery, in the irregular settlements that have proliferated in recent decades.
The aggressions against ‘Gabriela’ by her partner were escalating for a year until she burst her head with a blow. He is 30 years old. He lives in Sacnité, an irregular colony in Cancun.
‘Patricia’ was sexually assaulted by her sister’s boyfriend, the morning of the Cry of Independence. In the end, he threatened her: if she said anything, it would hurt her and her family. He is 12 years old. He lives in Superblock 237, another irregular colony.
‘Nicolle’ and her prim companionsAria were sexually abused by the taekwondo coach. He is also 12 years old. He lives in the Chiapeca neighborhood, also, an irregular colony of Cancun.
The names were changed to protect the identity of the victims. The cases are just a sample of reports prepared by the Special Group for Attention to Victims of Family and Gender Violence (Geavi) and the Quintana Roo Institute for Women (IQM), consulted by Political Animal.
In Cancun there are 213 irregular settlements, where about 250,000 people live, 30% of the municipal population, according to Samuel Mollinedo, councilor president of the Urban Development and Mobility Commission of the city council. There are from invasions, product of electoral tourism or the need to occupy a space for housing the poorest people, to kilometric subdivisions built by real estate companies illegally, as well as large population centers developed outside the law on ejido land.
Being irregular, the municipality does not provide public services such as drinking water, sewerage, lighting or sidewalks. The State also does not run schools, health or justice centers. The houses on these sites are the product of self-construction and are likely never to have deeds because they have invaded communal, private, municipal or federal lands.
The luckiest locals build their rooms with cement blocks, which serve as a living room, dining room and bedroom, and the least make their palapas with pieces of wood, sheets and cardboard, without doors or windows, where it is common for rain and aggressors to sneak in.
The Secretariat of Sustainable Urban Territorial Development of Quintana Roo, in the Metropolitan Planning Program of the Metropolitan Area of Cancun, just published, offers a diagnosis of the city. Irregular settlements concentrate the worst: the greatest marginalization, the lowest schooling and poverty.
While the hotel zone registers maximums of 20 years of study, in the settlements they are four years. Between 70% and 100% of the people who live there are poor, the analysis concludes.
Backwardness, poverty and marginalization are words that in places like these lead to crimes that decompose every family, Lucio Hernández, former secretary of Public Security, who left office only in September, acknowledged in an interview.
“What occurs most in these irregular settlements is family violence,” says Hernández. “It is alarming, the main sanctioned conduct in these sites. Then come many other crimes of domestic violence, such as sexual crimes, intimate partner violence and everything else.”
It is in the settlements on Alfredo V. Bonfil, the only ejido in Cancun, where most violence against women is concentrated.
Only in Tres Reyes, El Milagro, Valle Verde and Avante, four of the 45 irregular colonies of the ejido, in 2020 there were 929 calls for help from women for a crime against them, according to the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) of Quintana Roo. This was more than the 835 calls recorded that same year across the neighboring state of Yucatan.
The calls made from the vicinity of palapas and barracks were provoked, for the most part, by family violence, intimate partner violence and violence against women. Reports were also received of physical aggressions in a gang, knife injuries, child abuse, attacks against freedom and sexual security, homicides, consumption of alcohol and drugs on public roads, carrying weapons, sexual abuse, rape, home invasion, among others, according to a database of the C5 Security Complex, which the SSP shared with this media.
In the irregular settlements of Cancun, more than 30% of the calls for help to 911 are made in the entity.
See also: From scolding, to forced contraception: 3 out of 10 women experience obstetric violence
Victim profile and context
‘Olga’, 42, who lives in the settlement of Avante, in Cancun, with secondary school as a maximum degree of study and who declared herself a “housewife”, originally from Tabasco, went on September 21, 2021 to the Justice Center for Women (CJM) of the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE), to report that she had been a victim of physical violence at home, psychological and patrimonial.
Cases like hers show common traits among female victims throughout Cancun: migrants, with low schooling, unemployed or unpaid workers, violated at home.
The latest Baesvim report helps to understand the profile of women abused in Cancun, the context in which the crimes were committed and some consequences.
Notices that women between the ages of 10 and 49 are much more likely to beencouraged in this city than the rest, especially those between 20 and 39 years old. Almost all (96%) were abused at home by their partners, mainly, and then by relatives such as uncles, cousins and stepfathers.
Only 348 of the victims had a bachelor’s degree and 12 had a master’s degree. The rest, the vast majority, had primary or secondary school as a maximum level of studies.
In the case of informal settlements, almost all declared themselves as “housewives” or simply unemployed.
Most are Mexicans from states such as Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas or Veracruz. However, there were also victims from Guatemala, the US, Colombia, Belize, El Salvador and 18 other countries. The presence of foreigners in Cancun is explained by the tourist activity. These are people who arrive attracted by the offer of work in hotels, restaurants, bars or other services.
“I think it is fundamental to understand the violence in Cancun this part of women arriving in Cancun without support networks. And if you do not have support networks or family or anything, you will not be able to build them with 14-hour days as they are in tourist work. And, in addition, they are transfers of two or three hours to your workplace. This also limits the possibilities of contact or coexistence with your children. And that’s something else, the abandonment of the kids. Cancun is a peculiar case, because of its tourist dynamics,” says González-Rizzo.
There is something additional in the 2020 report. This document indicates that psychological violence generated in the victims anguish, fear, sadness, affliction, stress and, on 47 occasions, suicidal ideation; Physical violence caused bruises, bruises, wounds, fractures, burns, in 26 cases death and in 17 one abortion. And sexual violence left physical injuries, in 199 cases it produced a pregnancy and in 53 it led to sexually transmitted infections.
“The impacts on mental health are very serious. The victim is going to carry that all his life, but also the children, who are the ones who see the madrazos, who live the screams. And they are not taken care of,” warns González-Rizzo.
Non-existent plans to eliminate violence
Despite their high incidence, irregular settlements have been left out of government strategies to combat violence against women.
In these places there are no video surveillance cameras or police booths, there is little patrolling and the SSP’s crime prevention programs do not arrive, former Secretary Lucio Hernández acknowledged.
An example of the omission is the Gender Violence Alert against Women (AVGM). The AVGM was requested in 2015 and declared until 2017 for the municipalities of Cancun, Cozumel and Solidaridad. It was the civil associations State Council of Women of Quintana Roo and Justice, Human Rights and Gender that presented the request. They exposed the need for the declaration in the face of the increase in femicides in the state. Between 2014 and 2015, they said, 16 violent murders had been perpetrated against women.
Despite the fact that two of the crimes occurred in irregular settlements – one in August 2014 against a 34-year-old woman suffocated by her partner and another on April 15, 2015 against a five-year-old girl whose body was found in Santa Cecilia – these sites were excluded from the actions and strategies of the alert.
At the end of 2021, the Inter-institutional and Multidisciplinary Group, made up of teachers and members of feminist groups, made the first opinion on the implementation of measures established in the AVGM from 2017 to 2020.
The document does not mention the situation of violence in irregular settlements. There are some actions undertaken by the municipality of Cancun, which reports, in a separate document, measures taken as a result of the alert.
The Lighting Directorate reported in an official document that, from July to December 2020, in Tres Reyes, the irregular colony with the most 911 distress calls made by women, only one luminaire was repaired.
According to the report of actions undertaken by the city of Cancun, to which the media had access, the management carried out an operation to repair 21 luminaires, a pole and a splash at the entrance of the irregular colony 247. In El Pedregal and El Milagro, two other irregular settlements, two luminaires were repaired, one in each.
There are programs and actions that have benefited the inhabitants of the settlements indirectly. For example, with subsidies from the federal government to the Quintana Roo Institute for Women, through the Support Program for Women’s Instances of the Federative Entities, a shelter for women victims of violence operates.
Another case is the Women’s Justice Center in Cancun, created after it was contemplated as a measure to be fulfilled.Go inside the alert statement. Although hundreds of women have come to this site, the problem is that it is far from the irregular settlements, more than 15 kilometers and just over an hour away, added to the fact that only in five colonies operate public transport routes.
In a police report of August 28, 2021, prepared by the Geavi, it is read that ‘Soledad’, an inhabitant of an irregular settlement and unemployed woman, whose daughter was abused by her partner, referred to the elements that came to her aid that she did not have the economic resources to move to denounce.
So far, of the dozen state and municipal agencies that serve women victims, only one, the Municipal Institute for Women (IMM) of Cancun, has installed a fixed module to receive complaints in the settlements, located in the Avante neighborhood.
At the end of 2021, this agency acquired a mobile module, in order to visit the rest of the irregular settlements; However, the truck is so large that it does not fit because of the gaps and dirt roads, so it has been parked in a supermarket on the outskirts of the city.
The lack of presence of the State, the absence of offices of these public entities in these places, discourages denunciation, recriminates Mónica Franco, associate criminologist researcher at the Observatory of Governance for Cooperation and Development.
This is reflected in the IMM statistics. In the nine fixed modules of the institute in the city, at least 50 women victims living in an irregular settlement during 2021 were served, according to reports to which this media had access.
The lack of complaints, Franco stresses, also leads to a gap of information for decision-makers and those who elaborate public policies, as well as the denial of access to security and justice.
“The reasons why female victims do not report is because it implies an economic cost, in traveling, photocopies, etc., and it implies time, the process is very long. And when women denounce, along the way, the lack of empowerment or resources to follow up makes them desist, from everything, from the complaint, from medical and psychological care services. They do not give continuity to the processes, not by will, but by these external factors, “he explains.
And the perpetrators?
For every case of a woman raped there is a man aggressor, of whom little can be known by reviewing all the databases consulted for this medium. The Baesvim is the only one that aggregates data in this regard.
There is a record of 24 thousand 866 perpetrators in Quintana Roo, in the period from January to September 2022.
The Baesvim only makes available the academic studies of the aggressor, also detailing the modality of violence. Although in 87% of the cases registered by the bank it was not possible to identify the school grade, the available data give an outline.
Men with postgraduate degrees are violent, but to a much lesser extent. It is the subjects with primary, secondary or preparatory school who exercise the most violence against women. The greater the study, the less likely it is to exercise violence.
Mónica Franco calls for a paradigm shift: not only to see the victim but to keep an eye on the aggressor, and not only to take him to jail, but to reeducate him, especially in the cases of men who commit crimes for the first time.
“Almost the entire system is focused on caring for victims. So, you see what is done with the woman, where she is taken, but when we identify the aggressor, all we have is prison and nothing else. And a sentence, and if the judge agrees, re-education measures. But we are not working with men who are primodelincuentes, who incur in family violence, in behaviors less serious than other cases, of these who insult, threaten. Those who commit lower degrees of violence should be taking psychological care,” he says.
“We have to capture all these people and, instead of a fine, channel them to attention to addictions, re-education on issues of new masculinities, non-violence, the peaceful resolution of conflicts. That is what still limps in Quintana Roo, which does not focus on the generators of violence, “warns the specialist.
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