There is a danger to being a woman in Mexico. I know – I live here.
Being a female expat has its own inherent risks and challenges. Depending on the country that you move to, you may find that the culture, laws, and social norms are designed to foster a submissive role for women. I can’t speak about the issues in other countries, but the transition from the United States to Mexico has been eye-opening for me as an expat prepper.
Mexican Discrimination Against Women
Let’s begin with gender discrimination. In Mexico, on average, women earn 23 percent less than men. The national average for men per month is $7,206 pesos while women average just $5,536 pesos. Forty-four percent of Mexico’s population is employed females who earn between 14% and 16.5% less than their male counterparts. More than half of the women in Mexico, over ten million women, make less than $6,200 pesos per month. As of 2019, it is finally illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant.
Women have been eligible to vote in elections since 1953, although they were not permitted to exercise that right until 1955. In local government, fewer than one-fifth of those that hold the position of mayor are women.
Girls are allowed to attend school. However, girls in rural areas of Mexico are less educated than their brothers. Some are forced to leave school early to tend to domestic tasks. Others marry. Mexico has the seventh-highest absolute number of child brides in the world.
Mexican Crime Statistics Against Women
Here are some other statistics for you to consider. More than 66% of women in Mexico over 15 have been a victim of at least one incident of sexual, emotional, physical or economic abuse. One in every 10 women in Mexico has been a victim of a sexual assault ranging in severity from groping to rape. Officials estimate that each year there are 120,000 rapes, one every 4 minutes, making Mexico number one in the world for sexual violence incidents. Only 3 out of every 100 rapists brought to trial are found guilty.
More than 85% of Mexico’s human trafficking victims are female. Mexico is also the leader in child pornography distribution and the second-largest producer of child pornography worldwide. An estimated 20,000 children in Mexico are victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation each year. There are over 12,300 Mexican internet accounts that provide photographs and videos of children being sexually abused. Veracruz has the highest incident of this, targeting girls between 11 and 15 years of age. There is evidence that the governor himself is involved in these transactions, although he has yet to be charged.
In Latin America, 1 in 4 individuals either approves or understands a man hitting his wife if she neglects household chores. In Mexico, 44.9% of women have suffered some form of violence in their homes, with 25.8% of women reporting physical violence; 11.7% sexual violence; 56.4% economic violence; and 89.2% emotional violence.
Mexico has the 16th highest rate of femicides in the world. Femicide is defined as the killing of women by males because they are female. As opposed to homicide, femicide is linked closely with sexual violence enacted to punish, blame and control the actions, emotions, and behavior of women. It is the most common crime in the world and has the highest level of impunity for perpetrators. It’s hard to even find reliable statistics for Mexico since murders are covered up, bodies are never identified, disappearances remain unreported, and justice is sorely lacking. It is estimated that at least 10 women a day are murdered in the country.
Women need to stick together in a culture like this. Protests like those held yearly on International Women’s Day, campaigns like Ya No Nos Callamos Mas (We won’t shut up) or Ni Una mas (Not one more) and strikes such as the Paro Nacional de Mujeres (Women’s National Strike) are ways that the women in Mexico have been trying to call attention to the dangerous situation women find themselves in throughout the country. However, as many protests are had, it still comes back to you to safeguard your own life and those of other women and girls.
Advice for Female Safety in Mexico
The Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres suggests that women in domestic violence circumstances take preventative action, creating a bug-out bag of sorts. They suggest women in potentially volatile situations have a second set of keys made for the house, have copies of important documents including birth certificates and marriage certificate in a folder ready to grab, have a bag packed with money, a phone, and change of clothes. Notice that calling the authorities is NOT one of the suggested courses of action. The only option is to flee even though technically, domestic abuse, rape, incest, sexual abuse, statutory rape, and femicide are federal offenses in Mexico.
Safety Tips for Women in Mexico
If you see another woman who needs assistance on the street:
- Create a distraction. Greet a stranger as if you have been waiting for her. Throw your arm around someone being forced into the corner on a bus.
- Ask if she needs help. If you see a woman being followed by a suspicious person, ask if she needs help. A woman alone is more likely to be taken than one in a group.
If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation:
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you believe your drink has been spiked with a drug, tell someone immediately.
- Avoid being alone. If you go out, go with a group of people and check in with them regularly. Keep track of the other women in your group as well. Do NOT take an Uber or taxi alone.
- Maintain your situational awareness. Be alert to your surroundings. Don’t become distracted by your phone. Do not go in public if you have had too much to drink. It makes you an easy target.
- Make sure your cell phone is charged and you have cash for emergencies.
- Carry a rape whistle in your purse. Make as much noise as possible if someone attempts to kidnap you.
- Carry pepper spray. While Mexico doesn’t completely come right out and say that pepper spray is illegal, if you use it to defend yourself, it is considered an assault and you may be arrested. However, it’s better to be in jail than dead.
Although the reality for women in Mexico is frightening, other countries in the world are far worse. The key is to be aware of your surroundings and your own safety at all times. Being prepared for the worst may just save your life.