Home NewsPeninsulaCampeche The Yucatán Peninsula, a violent place for women

The Yucatán Peninsula, a violent place for women

by Sofia Navarro
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Natalia was returning from work on what could be described as an ordinary day, coming back from work, following a routine, taking public transport, arriving home, walking a couple of blocks. But what changed was when a man approached her, touched her, and with that, things shifted. She was left with a memory of pain, discomfort, helplessness. There was no call to an emergency number, 911. She didn’t become part of a statistic that ranks Quintana Roo as an unsafe destination for women, which it already is.

In the Yucatán Peninsula, Quintana Roo holds the first place in cases of rape per 100,000 inhabitants, and Campeche ranks fifth. These figures, like Natalia’s experience, don’t generate official graphs. Instead, they remain within the realm of the Executive Secretariat of the National Security System, the official body for releasing such statistics.

However, these statistics serve as a basis for creating policies to address the problems.

Official statistics rank Campeche as the top state nationwide for intentional injuries against women. It doesn’t include two recent victims of murder by their partners, who later committed suicide in Ciudad del Carmen.

In Campeche, during the first semester of this year, 959 intentional injuries were reported (five per day). This means the attackers had the intention to harm their victims.

The Secretariat maintains a record of the 100 cities in the country with registered femicides. The three states of the have at least one city with high rates: four in Campeche, two in Quintana Roo, and Mérida, Yucatán.

Benito Juárez and Solidaridad, better known as Cancún and Playa del Carmen; Mérida, the Yucatecan capital; and Carmen, Campeche, Champotón, and Calakmul are the seven cities listed.

Luisa went to buy tortillas at 1 PM, a few blocks from her home in Region 91 of Cancún. She returned without her earrings, the only valuable possession she had. A man on the street corner had snatched them.

While there are programs in favor of women, such as empowerment initiatives in rural communities of Campeche discussing economic empowerment, or support for single mothers in other areas, there is a long way to go. In Carmen, there are 50 successful entrepreneurial women who participated in a forum.

However, Andrea takes public transportation in Campeche and has to be alert to those who approach her. Once, a man stared and harassed her, then followed her. There was no physical attack, but the memory lingers. Going out isn’t just about traffic or weather, it’s about unknown men, and sometimes even acquaintances.

In Cancún, Graciela, a student, found herself alone in a shared van. The driver decided not to stop, smiling at her. She started trembling. It was daytime, on a central route.

In Quintana Roo, 683 intentional injuries against women were registered in the first half of 2023, according to the Secretariat’s data. It leads in emergency calls to 911 due to rape.

Partner violence also places Quintana Roo in the lead, with 612 reported cases up until last June. At least three cases daily. Campeche ranks within the top 10 with 170 cases—almost daily. Yucatán is less affected but still reports 78 cases, at least those that are reported.

Ultimately, the numbers mean very little to them.

A few days ago, news emerged from a northern state: an elderly man killed a woman he argued with, a situation that had a history of harassment.

In recent days, there was the case of someone who attacked a woman with acid. And in even more recent days, there was a case of sexual assault. It continues, day after day.

Natalia can’t remember when she first began to worry about being vigilant whenever she went out. She believes it might have been around the age of 12 or 13 when she attended a gathering with her older sisters. They went dancing, and something was slipped into her drink. She recalls riding back home with her sisters in a taxi, not knowing what had happened. If they hadn’t been there, she has no idea what might have occurred.

I think that was the time when I understood that as a woman, I was exposed to terrible dangers. I’ve wanted to do so many things: walk alone on the street, go hiking in the woods, go to the beach alone (a failure because of constant harassment), have conversations with unfamiliar men because I genuinely enjoy meeting people.

I’ve been touched without consent, harassed at some workplaces, followed on the street, subjected to “compliments” that make me feel like a piece of meat. I’ve witnessed men attacking women simply because they responded to their vulgar comments, and those men wanted to physically assault them for answering back.

I’ve seen men masturbating in public spaces and on public transportation, doing everything to make you notice them. I’ve seen it happen again and again, how women must endure, swallow, and tolerate comments, attitudes towards us or other women.

We know we’re treated as second-class citizens by the world, but I don’t feel like a second-class citizen. I want to do so many things, and I feel like men, society, are stealing those opportunities and desires from me. In the end, every woman learns when to draw the line and lets countless attitudes, words, and situations slide just to avoid constant, daily struggle with everything and everyone.

I once had a therapist who abused me during a vulnerable moment in my life. I didn’t report it. I never told anyone. Who would support me? Who would bring me justice? What horrible things would I have to endure if I reported it?

TYT Newsroom

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