Rape and Domestic Violence: Federal law criminalizes the rape of men and women, including spousal rape, and conviction carries penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Spousal rape is criminalized in 26 of the 32 states. There were high rates of impunity for these crimes, consistent with high impunity rates for all crimes. According to the Interior Ministry’s most recent data (2019), only 2 percent of women who were victims of violence received help. Of all cases of domestic violence, only 5 percent were prosecuted and only 1 percent resulted in convictions.
Federal law prohibits domestic violence and stipulates penalties for conviction of between six months’ and four years’ imprisonment. The law includes media and digital violence as a form of violence against women. Of the 32 states, 29 stipulate similar penalties, although sentences were often more lenient. Federal law criminalizes spousal abuse. State and municipal laws addressing domestic violence largely failed to meet the required federal standards and often were unenforced.
According to an INEGI 2021 survey, 40 percent of women age 15 and older reported having experienced physical violence at the hands of their current or most recent partner, and 23 percent reported having experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months. The increase in domestic violence cases that began during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic continued during the year, according to the watchdog group Nosotros Tenemos Otros Datos (We Have Other Data).
Femicide is a federal offense punishable by 40 to 70 years in prison. It is also a criminal offense in all states. The Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System reported more than 1,900 killings of women, including 858 femicides from January to November.
On April 21, authorities found the body of Debanhi Escobar in an uncovered motel cistern in Monterrey, Nuevo León, nine days after she went missing. The Nuevo León Prosecutor General’s Office fired two prosecutors working on the case for “omissions and errors” in their work, raising additional questions regarding the actual cause of death. A long series of femicides and the discovery of Escobar’s body triggered protests throughout the country on April 24 as hundreds of persons gathered in different locations nationwide to demand justice for victims of femicide and disappearances.
On May 21, gender-based violence activist and lawyer Cecilia Monzón was killed in Cholula, Puebla. In April Monzón filed for alimony at the state attorney general’s office against former Puebla Secretary of the Interior Javier López Zavala, with whom she had a son. The day before her death, she publicly criticized the state attorney general’s office for not processing the motion. Authorities arrested Zavala and three other alleged coconspirators for femicide. As of December 31, the four were awaiting trial.
The 911 hotline received 230,488 calls reporting incidents of violence against women from January to August, an increase of 20 percent over the same months in 2021. The National Shelter Network reported it assisted more than 19,700 women and children between January and July, a 15 percent increase from 2021. Between January to July, the National Database for Information on Cases of Violence Against Women reported 77,778 cases of violence against women.
The National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women is responsible for leading government programs to combat domestic violence. In addition to shelters, women’s external assistance centers provided services including legal, psychological, and protective; however, the number of cases far surpassed institutional capacity. Legal experts explained the country lacked sufficient psychological and anthropological experts to issue the appropriate expert reports that judges require in femicide and domestic violence cases. According to multiple NGOs, due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy, funding sources for women’s shelters, including for Indigenous women, were insufficient. Federal funding assisted the operation of more than 69 shelters, external attention centers, emergency houses, and transition houses. NGOs operated 85 percent of the facilities, and government organizations operated the remaining 15 percent.
Sexual Harassment: Federal law prohibits sexual harassment and provides for fines from 250 to 5,000 times the minimum daily wage, but the law was not effectively enforced. Of the 32 states, 24 criminalize sexual harassment, and all states have provisions for punishment when the perpetrator is in a position of power. According to the National Women’s Institute, the federal institution charged with directing national policy on equal opportunity for men and women, sexual harassment in the workplace was a significant problem.
Reproductive Rights: There were no confirmed reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
CNDH observed recurrent cases of obstetric violence during childbirth in the forms of neglect and physical abuse, sometimes with serious consequences on women’s sexual and reproductive health. In 2021 CNDH issued nine recommendations to improve or address the denial of health services, including physical and psychological abuse, performance of risky procedures, and inadequate neonatal evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for diseases.
Federal authorities supported access to contraceptive methods, including for the purpose of family planning, but states’ efforts varied widely. Barriers to accessing contraceptives stemmed from lack of knowledge, poverty, lack of access to health services, and sexual violence from family members, strangers, or friends. A 2017 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation study on the use of contraceptives in Chiapas (the poorest state) found that older women were less likely to use family planning methods (13 percent of women age 35 and older, versus 18 percent of women age 20 to 34), while 23 percent of Indigenous women opposed birth control for religious, cultural, or social reasons. A CNDH diagnostic conducted of incarcerated women during the year found women in prison had little access to gynecological attention and contraceptives. CNDH reported that health providers had little accessible information on reproduction for women with disabilities.
The National Population Council (CONAPO) said that in 2021 there were 373,661 pregnancies in women younger than age 19 (30 percent above 2020), of which 8,874 were in girls age 14 or younger. CONAPO reported 68 per 1,000 adolescent birth rates between the ages of 15 and 19. Authorities attributed high adolescent birth rates to low economic status, social inequities, school dropout, low usage of contraceptives, sexual abuse, and teenage marriages. Sometimes family members arranged marriages for girls younger than 18.
Government health service providers in 21 states noted they were obligated by law to offer sexual and reproductive emergency health services for survivors of sexual violence within 120 hours of the sexual assault. According to CNDH, the states that did not require government health service providers to offer emergency contraception services were Aguacalientes, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sonora, Tlaxcala, Yucatán, and Zacatecas. Emergency contraception and postexposure prophylaxis for the HIV virus were available, including for survivors of sexual assault. Nevertheless, women nationwide faced obstacles to accessing emergency services due to health providers’ personal objections to emergency contraception or misunderstanding of their legal obligations to provide services.
Factors associated with maternal deaths included parents with lower levels of education, poor hospital infrastructure and human capacity, and lack of access to maternity care, especially for pregnant women living in rural areas. Southern states reported the lowest access to skilled health care during pregnancy due to geographic, financial, and cultural barriers. In rural areas in 2019, the cause of most maternal deaths was obstetric hemorrhage. On October 12, the first National Survey for Menstrual Management presented its findings on 3,000 menstruating persons ages 12 to 70 in Aguascalientes, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Tamaulipas. The report pointed out the main barriers to menstrual health were stigma, lack of sanitation, and access to information. It found 69 percent of menstruating persons had little or no information when they got their first period and 15 percent lacked access to menstrual products.
Discrimination: The law provides women the same legal status and rights as men and “equal pay for equal work performed in equal jobs, hours of work, and conditions of efficiency.” The law establishes penalties for discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, color, religion, language, pregnancy, political belief, or any other nature that violates human dignity. The government did not enforce the law effectively. Women tended to earn substantially less than men did for the same work. Women were more likely to experience discrimination in wages, working hours, and benefits. Afro-Mexican and Indigenous women reported structural inequality in their daily lives.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Discrimination, 30 percent of women said they experienced discrimination because of their gender. Approximately 54 percent of women reported they were denied access to social programs, and 55 percent were reportedly denied medical attention or medication. The 2021 CNDH Household Survey reported 65 percent of men and 72 percent of women participants experienced discrimination due to their gender. Unmarried same-sex partners were not allowed to register partners to receive social benefits from the Mexican Social Security Institute.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
The constitution prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity, and a federal law prohibits all forms of discrimination. Nonetheless, discrimination was common against racial and ethnic minorities, including Black, Afro-Mexican, and Indigenous groups. All states have additional laws against discrimination. A 2019 constitutional reform recognizes Afro-Mexicans as an ethnic group. The government did not enforce the law effectively.
According to a 2021 report by the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED), in Mexico City dark-skinned individuals experienced the most discrimination, followed by Indigenous peoples.
INEGI reported that 2 percent of the population (2.5 million) self-identified as Afro-Mexican. CONAPRED’s 2017 national survey on discrimination found 58 percent of Afro-Mexicans and 65 percent of Indigenous persons considered their rights were respected “little or not at all.” The survey also reported 22 percent of persons said they would not share a household with an Afro-Mexican. The survey reported that persons with darker skin completed 6.5 years of schooling, while those with white skin completed 10 years. A report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration found black migrants faced widespread racial discrimination from individuals and authorities, particularly in accessing employment and services. Black migrants reported migration authorities detained Black migrants for longer periods than other migrants.
The constitution provides Indigenous persons the right to self-determination, autonomy, and education. Most Indigenous persons lived in marginalized communities, and the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally affected these communities, according to the OHCHR. Conflicts arose from the interpretation of Indigenous communities’ self-governing “normative systems.” Uses and customs laws apply traditional practices to resolve disputes, choose local officials, and collect taxes, with limited federal or state government involvement. Communities and NGOs representing Indigenous groups criticized the government for failing to consult Indigenous communities adequately when making decisions regarding extractive industry and natural resource development projects on Indigenous lands. CNDH and INPI maintained a human rights program to inform and assist members of Indigenous communities. INPI implemented justice plans for Indigenous communities to exercise self-determination and establish norms to counter historic marginalization. In June INPI hosted a regional assembly in Chihuahua with 50 Indigenous communities to discuss agrarian and environmental issues.
CNDH reported Indigenous women were among the most vulnerable groups in society. They often experienced racism and discrimination and were frequently victims of violence. Due at least in part to their lack of Spanish language proficiency, Indigenous persons generally had limited access to health care, education services, and legal means to seek justice. In April the NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide published a report that documented various freedom of religion or belief abuses faced by Indigenous women, in particular, including forced participation in religious majority activities, barriers to pursuing justice, and denial of access to government benefit programs and basic services.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous persons faced additional hardships in accessing educational services. Due to low internet penetration and television ownership in Indigenous communities, distance learning was often inaccessible. Additionally, some Indigenous students did not receive the breakfasts and lunches normally included in the full-time school meal program, according to a UNESCO study.
In mid-July the government resumed construction of the Mayan Train, a dual cargo-passenger railroad to cross the Yucatán Peninsula through Indigenous lands, citing a November 2021 decree deeming all public infrastructure to be a matter of national security, which limited the ability of civil society and Indigenous groups to use legal avenues to halt the project. Several Indigenous communities had brought legal actions to oppose the construction, many of which were dismissed or denied.
On February 5 and March 10, a state judge sentenced Indigenous human rights defender Kenia Hernández Montalbán to 10 years in prison for robbery in 2021 and to 11 years in prison for damaging a tollbooth during a protest in 2020, respectively. Civil society groups said the allegations were false. Hernández, an Indigenous people and women’s rights defender, was reportedly detained in 2020 without a warrant on false charges of aggravated robbery; in April 2021, it was reported that her health deteriorated due to conditions in the maximum-security prison where she was held. Hernández, an Indigenous lawyer of the Amuzga people, worked with the Zapata Vive Libertarian Collective on land rights, specifically protesting extraction contracts and working for those affected by extraction companies’ activities.
On May 8, authorities found Lorena Chantzin Paxacuasingo and Marcos Campos Ahuejote, members of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Guerrero-Emiliano Zapata (Cipog-EZ), dead in Chilapa, Guerrero. Cipog-EZ members said the criminal group Los Ardillos was responsible for the deaths.
There were no developments in the case of the July 2021 killing of Simon Pedro Pérez López, a human rights activist and member of the Las Abejas de Acteal civil society organization, in Chiapas.
Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship both by birth within the country’s territory and from their parents. Citizens generally registered the births of newborns with local authorities. Birth registration was provided on a nondiscriminatory basis. Failure to register births could result in the denial of public services such as education or health care.
Child Abuse: The law provides for protection against child abuse. There were numerous reports of child abuse. The National Program for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents, mandated by law, is responsible for coordinating the protection of children’s rights at all levels of government.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum marriage age is 18. Enforcement, however, was inconsistent across the states. With a judge’s consent, children may marry at younger ages.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and authorities generally enforced the law. Nonetheless, NGOs and media reported occurrences of sexual exploitation of minors, including child sex tourism in resort towns and northern border areas. Authorities estimated 21,000 children were kidnapped annually for sexual exploitation. A 2021 penal code reform eliminated the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors, including child pornography distribution, child sex tourism, corruption of minors, pederasty, sexual abuse, and rape.
Institutionalized Children: Civil society groups expressed concern regarding abuse of children with mental and physical disabilities in orphanages, migrant centers, and care facilities. During the year, the MNPT visited children’s institutions and found they lacked protocols for reporting mistreatment and mechanisms for supervision.
The 58,876 person Jewish community (according to the 2020 INEGI survey) experienced low levels of antisemitism. On January 18, during an online university class, a teacher joked about the death of Jews in the Holocaust, comparing them to a pizza in an oven. The university dismissed the teacher and publicly apologized.
Jewish community representatives reported good cooperation with the government and other religious and civil society organizations in addressing rare instances of antisemitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression, or Sex Characteristics
Criminalization: No laws criminalize same-sex sexual conduct.
Violence against LGBTQI+ Persons: There were reports the government did not always investigate and punish those complicit in abuses against LGBTQI+ persons, especially outside Mexico City. Civil society groups claimed police routinely subjected LGBTQI+ persons to mistreatment while in custody.
There were eight hate-crime homicides and six forced disappearances committed against the LGBTQI+ community in the first eight months, according to the National Observatory of Crimes Against LGBTQI+ persons.
On August 4, the court sentenced soldiers to 23 years in prison for the 2020 killing of Naomi Nicole, a transgender woman. The civil society group Letter S noted that in the LGBTQI+ community, transgender women were most likely to be victims of a hate crime. In 2021 Letter S documented the killing of 55 transgender women, 12 more cases than in 2020.
According to CONAPRED, the most frequent forms of aggression LGBTQI+ persons experienced were verbal violence, denial of entry, services and rights, and killings.
Discrimination: Federal law prohibits discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals. A Mexico City municipal law provides increased penalties for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On October 25, same-sex marriage became legal nationwide when Tamaulipas, Guerrero, and Tabasco joined other states in approving marriage equality.
A 2019 CNDH poll found six of every 10 members of the LGBTQI+ community reported experiencing discrimination in the past 12 months, and more than half were targeted with hate speech and physical aggression. From January to July 30, CONAPRED registered 27 reports of discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons, of which seven were against public servants.
Availability of Legal Gender Recognition: Twenty states permit adult individuals to update names and gender markers via a simple administrative process. In January, for the first time, the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs issued transgender birth certificates for citizens living abroad. In February Guanajuato issued the first nonbinary birth certificate nationwide. In August 2021, the Mexico City congress approved a reform allowing LGBTQI+ children 12 years and older to legally change their gender on their birth certificate.
Involuntary or Coercive Medical or Psychological Practices Specifically Targeting LGBTQI+ Individuals: Eleven states ban so-called conversion therapy practices.
According to INEGI, 14 percent of transgender persons and 10 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons were subjected to so-called conversion therapy practices. Civil society organizations reported that, as part of the treatment process, LGBTQI+ persons undergoing so-called conversion therapy practices were often isolated, beaten, given electroshocks, and made to undergo hormone or steroid therapies, among other actions.
Medically unnecessary surgeries and treatment continued to be done on infants and children born with sex characteristics that did not align with either a typical male or female body. A recent study by the National Council to Prevent Discrimination and the organization Brujula Intersexual found that four of 10 persons who had undergone such surgery reported it was done without their consent.
Restrictions of Freedom of Expression, Association, or Peaceful Assembly: There were no reports of restrictions on freedom of expression, association, or peaceful assembly related to LGBTQI+ issues.
Persons with Disabilities
Public buildings and facilities often did not comply with the law requiring access for persons with disabilities. Federal law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government did not effectively enforce the law.
The education system provided education for students with disabilities nationwide. Nevertheless, only 2 percent of schoolteachers in the country were trained to teach children with disabilities, according to the civil society organization Yo También. Children with disabilities attended school at a lower rate than those without disabilities.
The law requires the Secretariat of Health to promote the creation of long-term institutions for persons with disabilities in distress, and the Secretariat of Social Development must establish specialized institutions to care for, protect, and house poor, neglected, or marginalized persons with disabilities. NGOs reported authorities had not implemented programs for community integration.
Abuses occurred in institutions and care facilities housing persons with mental disabilities, including those for children. Abuses included the use of physical and chemical restraints; physical and sexual abuse; human trafficking, including forced labor; disappearance; and the illegal adoption of institutionalized children. Persons with disabilities were vulnerable to abuse from staff members, other patients, or guests at facilities where there was inadequate supervision. Documentation supporting the identity and origin of those staying in the facilities was lacking, and access to justice was limited, according to NGOs. NGOs reported no changes in the mental health system to create community services or any efforts by authorities to have independent experts monitor human rights abuses in psychiatric institutions.
Institutionalized persons with disabilities often lacked adequate medical care and rehabilitation services, privacy, and clothing. They often ate, slept, and bathed in unhygienic conditions.
Voting centers for federal elections were generally accessible for persons with disabilities, and ballots were available with a braille overlay for federal elections in Mexico City, but these services were inconsistently available for local elections elsewhere in the country.
In July human rights defender Luz Raquel Padilla was allegedly sprayed with alcohol and set on fire in Zapopan, Jalisco, after reporting threats from her neighbors due to her autistic son’s loudness. Padilla died from severe burns a few days following the incident.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The Catholic Multimedia Center reported that criminal groups harassed priests and other religious leaders in some parts of the country and subjected them to extortion, death threats, and intimidation. In June a gunman shot and killed tour guide Pedro Palma and Jesuit priests Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar inside a church in Cerocahui, Chihuahua, after the priests allegedly provided safe haven to a man fleeing gunmen. Government officials stated that the harassment of Catholic priests and evangelical Protestant pastors reflected high levels of generalized violence throughout the country and not targeted attacks based on religious faith.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Catholic-majority communities sometimes discriminated, harassed, threatened, displaced, denied basic services, and destroyed the property of individuals who left Catholicism or belonged to other faith communities. In January in San Pedro Chimaltepec, Oaxaca, local authorities freed 15 evangelicals previously jailed in December for refusing to financially contribute to and participate in Catholic religious celebrations. Authorities forced each individual to pay a fine of 5,000 pesos ($250) and expelled five of the evangelicals from the community. On July 27, media reported two evangelical families were expelled from San Andrés Larriánzar municipality for refusing to pay for a Catholic festivity and were fined 200,000 pesos ($10,000).