Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and imposes penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment. However, according to HRW and other NGOs, rape victims rarely filed complaints with police, in part because of the authorities’ ineffective and unsupportive responses to victims, victims’ fear of publicity, and a perception that prosecution of cases was unlikely. Human rights organizations asserted that authorities did not take seriously reports of rape, and victims continued to be socially stigmatized and ostracized.
Federal law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, and stipulates fines equal to 30 to 180 days’ minimum salary and detention for up to 36 hours; actual sentences, however, were often more lenient. This countrywide law obligates federal and local authorities to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women. Nevertheless, according to the NGO Citizen Femicide Observatory (Observatorio Ciudadano de Feminicidios), domestic violence was pervasive and mostly unreported.
State-level laws sanctioning domestic violence are weak. Seven states do not criminalize it, and 15 states punish it only when it is a repeated offense. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Public Health in several of the country’s rural and indigenous communities, victims did not report abuses for a variety of reasons, including fear of spousal reprisal, shame, and the view that the abuse did not merit a complaint. There were no authoritative statistics available on the number of abusers prosecuted, convicted, and punished. The 2006 National Survey on Household Relationships, the most recent such survey completed, suggested that 67 percent of women over age 15 had suffered some abusive treatment.
According to the Citizen Femicide Observatory, more than 1,700 girls, teenagers, and women were killed between January 2009 and June 2010.
The PGR’s Special Prosecutor for Violence against Women and Trafficking in Persons (FEMVITRA) is responsible for leading government programs to combat domestic violence and federal human trafficking cases involving three or fewer suspects. With only five lawyers dedicated to federal cases of violence against women and trafficking countrywide as of 2010, FEMVITRA faced challenges in moving from investigations to convictions, although it achieved several.
There were approximately 70 government-funded shelters. Civil society and women’s rights groups maintained numerous shelters as well.
Sexual Harassment: Federal law prohibits sexual harassment and provides for fines of up to 40 days’ minimum salary. Sexual harassment is also criminalized in 26 states and the Federal District. Twenty-two of these states have provisions for punishment when the perpetrator is in a position of power. According to the National Women’s Institute (INMUJERES), the federal government institution charged with directing national policy to achieve equality of opportunity between men and women, sexual harassment in the workplace was widespread, but victims were reluctant to come forward and cases were difficult to prove.
Sex Tourism: The country was a destination for sex tourists, particularly from the United States. There are no laws specifically prohibiting sex tourism with adults, although federal law criminalizes corruption of minors, for which the penalty is five to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the legal right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children and have the information and means to do so free from discrimination. However, services, information, and public policies in the area of reproductive health were limited. Despite the existence of a national family planning program, the lack of sex education and contraceptives in public hospitals and rural areas undermined the government’s commitment to reproductive rights. The Population Reference Bureau reported that 66 percent of women used modern contraceptives. Information on maternal health was available at public and private health clinics and online at the Federal Secretariat of Health’s Web site. Skilled attendants at delivery and in postpartum care were widely available except in some marginalized areas. Women and men were given equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Discrimination: The law provides women the same rights and obligations as men and “equal pay ... for equal work performed in equal jobs, hours of work, and conditions of efficiency.” According to INMUJERES, during the year women earned between 5 and 14 percent less than men for comparable work. INMUJERES reported that its national hotline received 5,881 calls during the year. The law provides labor protection for pregnant women. According to the Information Group on Reproductive Rights, some employers reportedly sought to avoid this law by requiring pregnancy tests in preemployment physicals and by continuing to make inquiries into a woman’s reproductive status.