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Ciudad Juarez

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Mexico: The long history of femicide and the case of Mariana Lima | UNSA Vienna Femicide Team

Country Dossier
12.04.21
VAW
Mariana Lima
Ciudad Juarez
Cotton Field Case
jurisdiction
history

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In Mexico, femicide has been taking place for many years. Despite laws and a historic ruling of the Mexican Supreme Court, the killing continues. In this special dossier on femicide in Mexico, we provide key information on the situation in this country and related materials concerning legislation, cases, campaigns, inter alia. 

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From the killings of Ciudad Juarez to the first Supreme Court ruling on feminicide

Back in the 1980s, the first feminicides were reported in Mexico. In 2009, the second wave of killings in Ciudad Juarez started. Over 700 women were killed until then -- and many more in the years thereafter: As the Guardian reported in 2017, of the over 50,000 killed women since 1983 nearly a third of them were killed in the last six years (Increasing femicide rates in Mexico | The Guardian).

The "Cotton Field case" was a landmark ruling in 2009 by the IACHR, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, after it had been issuing its very first report on the situation of women in Ciudad Juarez already back in 2003. In 2009, the IACHR recognised that the disappearances and murders of three women in Mexico were gender-based and perpetrated in the known context of violence against women in Ciudad Juarez. Hence, it prosecuted the Mexican nation-state for such crimes. (Gonzalez, Monreal and Monarrez ("Cotton Field") v. Mexico | LSE, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2003 report on Ciudad Juarez)

Mexico’s Federal Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, prosecuted her the Mariana Lima case as “feminicidio” in 2015 (The Long Road to Justice, Prosecuting Femicide in Mexico | UN Women).

The Mariana Lima case

Among the many individual cases that have been reported, the killing of Mariana Lima is one of the most prominent ones.

Mariana Lima was violently murdered by her husband, César Hernández Ballinas (a judiciary policeman with a previous record of violence and abuse against his wife) in 2010. Five years later, the case reached justice. Mexico’s Federal Supreme Court prosecuted her case as “feminicidio”; the first ever such ruling worldwide. This landmark ruling was influenced by and resulted from a mix of normative frameworks and action across all levels: global / regional / national / grassroots. Key factors included:

1. the persistent family's advocacy, supported by various Mexican grassroot / civil society organizations, already active for years;

2. the high media attention due to Ciudad Juárez / "Cotton Field" sentence;

3. the existence of various key international and regional frameworks. 

Key grassroots

In 2004, the national observatory OCNF was established. It represents 49 organizations from 21 Mexican states and is considered the largest civil society “observatory” on femicide, in Latin America and beyond.

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