Hate crimes during Covid

The coronavirus has drastically affected all of us. Not only are we forced to stay at home but also forced to use that uncomfortable mask every time we go out. The best option is to stay at home. It’s great: we get to lay in bed all day, watch Netflix and eat chips not worrying about anything. But that’s only our reality. Think about your life right now. Are you sad because you can’t see your friends? Are you bored because you can’t leave the house? Do you feel frustrated when the wifi is slow? If you answered yes to any of these questions, count yourself lucky. You live a privileged life. Imagine feeling scared at home just for the sole fact of being a woman. Just imagine fearing for your life in the one place you should feel the most comfortable and safe. This is a reality for millions of women around the world. This is the reality of femicides.

The dictionary definition for femicide is: the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender. Yes, the slaughter of a woman just because she’s a woman. Femicide, according to the UN, is the “extreme and ultimate manifestation of existing forms of violence against women in patriarchal societies” and “a mechanism of domination, control, oppression, and power over women”. Crimes of this kind reinforce the idea that women are inferior and belong to men. For a case to be considered a femicide, there must be an implied intention to carry out the crime, as well as a demonstrated connection between the crime and the gender of the victim. Culturally and socially normalised, femicides continue to be tolerated or justified because the exemption of punishment is the “norm”. Since it’s so widely accepted, this sex-based hate crime most of the time remains unrecognised, under-reported or neglected by governments.

Latin America has some of the highest rates of violence against women, and Mexico is facing a skyrocketing level of femicides and near-total impunity. Domestic violence has spiked in Mexico during its coronavirus-related lockdown, but the country’s president has downplayed the problem and slashed the budgets of agencies charged with addressing women’s issues. According to a national network of women’s shelters, calls for help went up by 60% in April 2020 and continue to increase. The Mexican government officials led by the president have other opinions about this issue. They believe, and I quote, “Mexican women have never been as protected as now.” But let’s look at the facts. About 1,000 women and girls were victims of femicide in Mexico last year, and that’s only what’s been reported. Figures released last month show that crimes such as femicide climbed 7.7% in the first half of 2020 when compared with the same period last year, and shelters have reported a sharp rise in the number of women attempting to flee domestic violence. On average, 12 women are killed each day in Mexico compared to the 3 women being killed a day in previous years, 77% of women in Mexico report not feeling safe, and 66.1% of all women age 15 and older have experienced some kind of violence inflicted by a man in their lives. 93% of crimes were either not reported or not investigated. President López Obrador continues to downplay the problem of violence against women, claiming without factual basis that “90% of calls to domestic abuse hotlines are fake”. Do more than 1000 women murdered by their partners and family members for being a woman sound fake to you?

Although Mexico is in critical conditions regarding femicide, it isn’t the only country where femicide stands out. Femicide is a worldwide issue that affects women every day. Women shouldn’t be scared to walk outside alone; we shouldn’t be afraid to go to school, we shouldn’t fear for our lives every time a man approaches us. Why are we letting this happen? Why are we letting innocent women be killed every day in front of our eyes? Why are we not doing anything about it? We must speak up and spread awareness about this subject. We are the generation of the future. We need to educate ourselves to stop these cruel, misogynistic acts.

Just because it’s not happening to you, doesn’t make it any less critical. We want justice for all those innocent women that are brutally murdered on a daily basis. We want justice for all the girls that are abused from such a young age. We want justice for every woman afraid that someone might hurt them right now. The UN Women is supporting government institutions and civil society organisations so that together they can raise awareness and end impunity towards crimes against women and girls. You can’t stay silent. Let’s terminate this world crisis together.

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