MEXICO CITY – Sexual violence is a routine practice in the detention of women by Mexican security forces, but there is hardly any penalty for those crimes, said an Amnesty International report released on Tuesday.
AI spoke with 100 women serving time in federal prisons and all said they had suffered sexual harassment and psychological abuse during their arrest or in the hours that followed.
Seventy-two of them had suffered sexual abuse and 33 were raped.
With numbers like that, “we can’t accept the theory that there are a few bad apples in Mexico’s security forces,” Madeleine Penman, author of the report, told EFE in an interview.
Hours before the study was published, the AI director for the Americas, Erika Guevara-Ross, met with Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez to present her with the results.
Security-force members who have been prosecuted, the investigator said, “are almost non-existent.” And since 1991, only 15 charges of torture have ended with convictions at the federal level.
Another conclusion of the report is that the crime-fighting strategy is often based on arbitrary arrests that target poor, marginalized women who are the most vulnerable and who end up suffering abuse and being forced to sign “confessions” for their “crimes.”
Such was the fate of Yecenia Armenta, recently released after spending four years in jail. When she was arrested in 2012 she was beaten and raped for hours until she “admitted” killing her husband.
Amnesty International does not hesitate to call the situation in Mexico a “torture epidemic.”
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, has received some 7,000 complaints about torture since 2010.