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Mexico to Present Women's Issues UN - 2001-11-27

Women's organizations in Mexico say they will take the case of murdered women in the border city of Juarez to the United Nations and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. The protest comes at a time of increasing criticism of Mexican law enforcement officials.

Various women's groups and human rights organizations are threatening to go to international bodies with their complaints about the continuing murders of women in Juarez. They say that 260 women have been raped, tortured and killed over the past several years in that city, which sits just across the border from the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. Although authorities have made several arrests over the years, the murders have continued.

The head of Mexico's National Institute for Women, Patricia Espinosa, is calling for more federal involvement. She says the Attorney General's Office should take a more active role in the cases, backing up the local investigators. She says even one more death is too many.

Another member of the government of President Vicente Fox, who expresses support for efforts to end violence against women is Health Secretary Julio Frenk. He says attacks against women should be considered violations of their basic human rights as well as a matter of great concern for public health.

While the murders in Juarez are the most dramatic example of such violence, statistics presented by women's advocates show that there is a national pattern of abuse against women. They say violent episodes occur in one out of three homes in Mexico, with women being the victims in 96 percent of the cases.

But confidence in government authorities to resolve such problems is low. Crime in general has become a major concern of Mexicans, and surveys show most people have little faith in the police.

A study published Monday cites Mexico City statistics showing that only about 25 percent of crimes are reported, and that police resolve only about nine percent of those cases. The authors of the study say that this is also true on a national level. They recommend mechanisms to monitor police effectiveness on a continual basis in order to increase accountability and reduce corruption.