Sexual violence is common in female prisons

Amnesty complains about sexual violence against women inmates in Mexico

There is a shocking level of violence by security forces, according to the latest report by the human rights organization: "Surviving Death: Police and Military Torture in Mexico". All 100 interviewed women who were incarcerated in federal prisons stated that they had been exposed to sexual violence and psychological abuse during their arrest and interrogation. Amnesty accuses the Mexican government of failing to adequately protect women in custody from violence by security forces.

Brutal torture methods

Almost all women reported physical abuse by security forces, according to the investigation. 72 testified that they were sexually assaulted during their arrest or in the hours that followed. 33 said they were raped. The "usual" abuse included electric shocks to the genitals and simulating suffocation with plastic bags over the head. There were also blows to the stomach or head and threats to rape the inmates or relatives.

"The report shows that sexual violence is routine during detention and interrogation," writes Amnesty. "Rape and other forms of sexual violence are tolerated and the perpetrators are protected." Confessions obtained through "torture" are used to simulate success in the fight against organized crime and to improve statistics.

AI demands zero tolerance

The human rights organization calls on the Mexican Congress to pass an anti-torture law immediately and to monitor its implementation. Because although the majority of the women interviewed reported the abuse, investigations into the perpetrators were only initiated in around a third of the cases. There have been thousands of such cases since 1991, but only 15 have come to court. No police officer or soldier has been suspended from duty.

According to the report, torture and ill-treatment particularly hit women from lower classes with low incomes and a low level of education. "These women are perceived by the authorities and security forces as simple targets," said Maja Liebing, Amnesty Germany's Mexico expert. The Mexican state is sending the dangerous signal that rape and other forms of sexual violence would be tolerated and the perpetrators protected, Liebing said.

AI calls on President Enrique Peña Nieto to send a clear message to the judiciary and security forces that no mistreatment will be tolerated any more. Confessions obtained under torture are no longer allowed to be used. The human rights activists assessed positively that a special anti-torture unit was recently created at the General Prosecutor's Office. However, their work must be accelerated and supplemented by statistics and independent reports. Because there are still enough judges who protect torturers, according to the AI ​​report.

qu / kle (epd, dpa, afp, kna)