Femicide Crisis In Mexico to Increase and Potentially Spread Into Other Central American Countries D

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico’s femicide crisis has worsened and is likely to continue to worsen as the pandemic continues to persist and spread. The government has been receiving backlash, as it has not yet released a plan to prevent the killing of women and girls on account of their gender from occurring. Mexico’s National System of Public Security registered 144 femicides between March and April, while the National Map of Femicides in Mexico has counted 405 cases of femicide in the same time period.[1] By mid-March, more than 380 women had been killed in Mexico.[2]

There is a probable chance that the increasing cases of femicide will continue in Mexico, spread throughout the region, and have a major impact on other parts of Central America.

Ecuador has already seen an increase in violence against women during COVID-19 and around 41 new cases are being reported daily.[3] The lack of governmental authority and progress on gender equality provides a great chance for this crisis to continue to spread in Central America, which would result in the death rate of women to increase.


Restrictions that have been put in place during COVID-19, such as mandatory quarantine, have brought on an increase in gender-based violence around the world. This prevalent pre-pandemic issue in Central America has only gotten worse as the governments have not tackled the wave of violence against women and demonstrate little commitment to gender equality causes. Three of the seven Central American countries are in the top 10 for highest femicide rates - El Salvador was first, Guatemala third and Honduras sixth, according to a 2011 study.[4] Mexico appears to be on the rise during COVID-19. One of the main reasons for it naturally being so high is due to the vague implementation of laws regarding femicide, the fact that femicide is not always separated from average crimes as well as the high percentage of femicide bening linked to organized crime.

Femicide has historically been linked to organized crime because of the prevalence of human trafficking and general gang violence.[5] Human trafficking disproportionately affects women and young girls with many being between the ages of 18 and 28 years old.[6] In many cases, women are trafficked for slavery and in many of these cases it results in murder. As for gang related incidents, wives of gang members are viewed as property, so violence against a gang member can also result in violence against their wives. However, during COVID-19 the main concern regarding femicide is women being forced to remain home with their abusers and unable to get help.

The COVID-19 issue is twofold: (1) the lack of legislation and policy already in place to directly tackle violence against women; and (2) the limited possibility for women to leave their houses for support. As women are forced to remain home with their abusers, they are less likely to be able to call for help, physically get help or be able to directly distance themselves from the individual abusing them. This has the potential to result in an increase in deaths as there is no system to assist in these situations.

Corruption rates in Mexico among the police account for an average of 1.6 corruption cases per police officer.[7] This is due to different factors including the financial capability and influence of organized crime, as well as police departments being underpaid and understaffed. Mexico is currently discussing eliminating the distinction between homicide and femicide from their penal code, despite the increase in the killing of women and girls in the county over the last five years.[8] Therefore, considering that a considerable percentage of femicides are related to organised crime, and being aware of the level of corruption among authorities, other possibilities to help women should be considered going forward and specifically during COVID-19.


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] Map Links Mexico’s Femicide Crisis, Organized Crime, InSight Crime, July 2020, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/mexico-femicide-organized-crime/

[2] More than 380 women have been killed in Mexico this year. Activists say a cultural change is needed., ABC News, March 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/International/380-women-killed-mexico-year-activists-cultural-change/story?id=69258389

[3] COVID-19, Violence Against Women, And Femicide In Latin America, The Organization for World Peace, July 2020, https://theowp.org/reports/covid-19-violence-against-women-and-femicide-in-latin-america/

[4] Central America: Femicides and Gender-Based Violence, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, N.d., https://cgrs.uchastings.edu/our-work/central-america-femicides-and-gender-based-violence

[5] Organized crime-related femicide in Latin America | InSight Crime, Femicide Watch, February 2016, http://femicide-watch.org/products/organized-crime-related-femicide-latin-america-insight-crime

[6] Why Does Latin America Have the World’s Highest Female Murder Rates?, InSight Crime, February 2016, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/why-does-latin-america-have-the-world-s-highest-female-murder-rates/

[7] Entire Police Forces Continue to be Arrested in Mexico, Insight Crime, 2019, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/entire-police-forces-continue-arrested-mexico/

[8] Women protest for their lives: Fighting femicide in Latin America, Atlantic Council, February 2020, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/women-protest-for-their-lives-fighting-femicide-in-latin-america/

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