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A woman holds a candle as she protests against gender violence and femicides at Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City A woman holds a candle as she protests against gender violence and femicides at Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City 

Mexican bishops appeal for the safety and dignity of women and girls

Mexican bishops are calling for respect for women, for the promotion of their dignity, and for the defence of their freedom and integrity.

By Linda Bordoni

The Catholic bishops of Mexico have released a statement in which they appeal for respect for women and for the safeguarding of their freedom and security.

Their call comes as official figures show that over 3000 women and girls were killed in 2019, with activists claiming the figure is actually much higher.

An overwhelming percentage of the victims were killed by husbands or partners, and ‘femicide’ is the word being used to describe an increasing number of these gender-based hate crimes that have shaken public opinion and led tens of thousands of Mexicans to take to the streets in the past weeks demanding the government do more to prevent the killings and protect vulnerable women.

"We are deeply hurt”, the bishops say in their statement, “by the violence against women, which has expressed itself in a new and aggressive way that is clearly visible, and in a form so cruel that it generates bewilderment, pain, bitterness, sadness, weeping, indignation, impotence and desire for revenge.”

The statement, released on Sunday, comes on the heels of the "brutal murders" of two very young girls, Ingrid and little Fatima, as well as the deaths of a baby girl called Karol and of Mayte Viridiana Aguilar.

"The brutality of those crimes has left us perplexed and filled us with pain and sadness," the statement says, appealing to all Christians not to remain indifferent to "the cry of pain of the victims that cries out to heaven for justice."

Educating for peace

The bishops also released a document entitled “Educating for peace, a national emergency” in which they say the country is experiencing a "real educational emergency" because the basic elements of human coexistence have been lost.

The document goes on to explain that in Mexico there is a "very narrow vision" of education, since it is usually reduced to the framework of scholastic institutions, without taking into account the indispensable educational base that comes from the family.  

"We are all co-responsible,” the bishops say, “for resolving the crisis of humanity that we face.” In this context, they call on all actors of society, from the family and the school, to the media and other institutions, to take on the responsibility of forging a culture of justice and peace that impacts lifestyle and human development and makes a dignified life possible for all.

Responsibility of the State

The Bishops also call on the State to follow through with its responsibility to pursue justice and, through its public policies, to support a culture of hope and peace.

“Today, the well-being of the human person must be put at the center of all social, economic and political action, rather than ideologies, discourses or statistics,” they say.

Noting that the Mexican Church is committed to guaranteeing that children, adolescents and young people in Mexico live with the greatest dignity and quality of life thanks to a series of new projects of protection and integral development, the bishops point out their support for all victims of violence.

Finally, they voice their desire to collaborate in restoring the damaged social fabric of our time and help victims heal and be reintegrated into society.

For years, bishops and priests have spoken out in response to the alarming number of femicides in the country.

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24 February 2020, 17:05