Using the message #NoMeCuidanMeViolan (“They don’t protect me, they rape me”), hundreds of women took to the streets of Mexico City on Friday to protest police sexual assault cases. The protests come after two separate cases that have shaken the nation where policemen have been accused of raping teenage girls.
“We’re tired of everything. We need to rise up so that everyone knows what is happening,” one protester whose name was not revealed, told Ruptly, “Being a woman in Mexico is walking in fear. It’s being afraid of going outside and having something happen to you. It’s leaving your house and not knowing if you’ll return.”
During the protests, women spray-painted messages on public buses and walls and lit trash on fire, while holding signs that said, “They’re killing us, and you’re not doing anything,” “I do believe you!” and others. The women also allegedly defaced Mexico City’s iconic Angel of Independence monument.
As of July, Mexico City has seen 81 murders of women, and 13 specifically gender-based murders against women, according to government data. The United Nations reported that two-thirds of women 15 and older have experienced some form of violence.
Hoy la mujeres tomamos la Ciudad de México.#NoMeCuidanMeViolan pic.twitter.com/mTJLd5beUN
— caro ✦ (@caro_ruu) August 17, 2019
While the protests reached new strength on Friday, they’ve been taking place for at least a week in direct response to the rape allegations. The first rape case was the evening of August 3, when several policemen allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl when she was heading home. The second case was of a 16-year-old girl who says she was raped in the museum where she works as an intern.
So far, six officers have been suspended as part of these allegations, though only one —tied to the museum case— has been arrested.
During one of the protests on Monday August 12, women threw red gas and glitter at the Secretary of the Public Security Jesús Orta Martínez. They also kicked down the glass doors of the attorney general’s office.
“The government will not respond with violence but with justice, and I want to emphasize that what happened today was an act of provocation,” Mexico City’s mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said last week.
She also posted a message on Twitter saying that there won’t be impunity when it comes to the cops accused of these rapes.
Ante los acontecimientos en donde policías han sido señalados como presuntos responsables de delitos de violencia contra las mujeres, quiero manifestar lo siguiente: pic.twitter.com/f7YJ1jmz9m
— Claudia Sheinbaum (@Claudiashein) August 13, 2019
Her comment that the act by the protesters was a “provocation” caused controversy and negative feedback on social media. One woman said on Twitter, “Two women are raped by cops, one a few blocks from her house, the other in a museum, authorities say they might allow them to stay free and return to work, but in the end of the day, it’s us who are violent.”
Dos mujeres son violadas por policías, una a unas cuadras de su casa, la otra en un museo
La autoridad dice q posiblemente los dejen en libertad Y REGRESEN A TRABAJAR
Pero al final del día nosotras somos las violentas, las señaladas y los objetos de burla #NoMeCuidanMeViolan
— 𝗅𝖺 𝗉𝗎𝗅𝗉𝗂𝗍𝖺 𝗋𝗈𝗌𝖺 𝖽𝖾 𝗇𝖾𝗆𝗈 (@danidupinet) August 13, 2019
After the Friday protests, the mayor posted a message on social media in response, saying, “About today’s manifestations, we respect the majority of what they did peacefully, for them the doors of the City of Mexico will always be open for frank dialogue, but we can’t justify the violence of some of them.”
Sobre la manifestifestación del día de hoy, esta es nuestra postura. pic.twitter.com/1iZ0xraEQk
— Claudia Sheinbaum (@Claudiashein) August 17, 2019
Sheinbaum, the first woman to be elected to the position, promised in July to tackle the issue of women’s violence. “It’s not fighting it—the objective is ultimately to eradicate violence,” she said.
On Sunday August 18, several activists met with Sheinbaum to discuss their concerns, though details have yet to be shared. Though one of the attendees, activist Ytzel Maya, said that there won’t be investigations into the protesters of neither actions last week. She also said the mayor apologized for criminalizing the protests.
En reunión con @ClaudiaShein, nos acaba de asegurar que no se abrirán carpetas de investigación contra las manifestantes del lunes ni del viernes. Se disculpa con nosotras por la criminalización de las protestas. Seguiremos esperando su comunicado público. #NoMeCuidanMeViolan
— Ytzel Maya (@ytzmaya) August 18, 2019
The protests are taking place just months after Mexico’s #MeToo movement (using several hashtags such as #metooescritoresmexicanos and #YaEsHora) was sparked, when women in journalism, academia, film, politics, law, and Hollywood spoke out against sexual abuse.