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'You are going to jail coz you're a stupid f***ing whore': Raped, tortured and beaten by their protectors

Mexican women have suffered abuse at the hands of police, army and navy forces after their (often unjustified) arrests.

MEXICO’S POLICE AND armed forces routinely torture and mistreat women, sometimes using sexual violence during arrest and interrogation, Amnesty International wrote in a damning report released this week.

The rights group interviewed 100 women who reported violence during arrest, all of whom described having been the victim of some form of sexual harassment or psychological abuse.

Seven in 10 of the women reported sexual violence during arrest or in the hours that followed.

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The types of mistreatment the women were subjected to included blows to the stomach and head, threats of rape directed either at them or their families, near-asphyxiation, electric shocks to the genitals, groping and rape.

“Police appear to be using them as easy targets for arrest to boost figures and show society that the government’s security efforts are yielding results,” said an Amnesty International statement.

The women subjected to such violence are mostly young and from low income backgrounds. The multiple and intersecting discrimination these women face because of their gender, age and socio-economic situation increases their risk of being arbitrarily arrested and tortured or ill-treated.

The report found that many women arrested and imprisoned are single parents and face discrimination simply for not conforming to widely accepted gender expectations, such as having a male partner.

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Sex workers in Mexico also often find themselves at risk of torture and ill-treatment during arrest or in detention, the report said, as do women who are bisexual or lesbian.

Case studies

Fernanda, 22

You’re going to jail coz you’re a stupid fukcing whore.

-Federal policeman’s words to Fernanda Indigo*, a single parent and sex worker arrested in 2014

“The single mother of two, worked in a bar in a down-at-heel neighbourhood in Valle de Chalco in Mexico state, where she met clients for sex work. Fernanda told Amnesty International that on 21 March 2014, at about 3am or 4am, when she was at the house of one or her clients, over 20 undercover Federal Police officers dressed in black with assault rifles stormed into the house.

“They ripped off Fernanda’s clothes, groping her breasts and buttocks and yelling threats at her. She told Amnesty International that the officers took her to a house where she could hear cries of other people being tortured. One police officer screamed at her: “You are going to jail coz you’re a stupid fucking whore.”

“After extended beatings and electric shocks, Fernanda was taken to the PGR where she was presented before the media in a press conference as a member of an organised criminal gang. The accusation against her came from one of the other people who was also arrested at the time.”

Monica, 26

Mónica, then aged 26, was driving with her husband and brother on 12 February 2013 when they were stopped by municipal police from Torreón, Coahuila state. Mónica described to Amnesty International the events that followed.

The officers showed no warrant, but took the three to a warehouse behind the offices of the Municipal Security Department in Torreón. Monica at first stayed outside in a police van. An official arrived and when he saw that Monica was there, he got very angry with the police woman who had brought her in and said: “You’re an idiot! Why did you bring her in?”

He came back a few minutes later and took Mónica into the warehouse, threatening to “cut her into little pieces”.

According to Monica, when she entered he said to her “welcome to the party” and she saw her brother and husband sitting naked with blood streaming down their bodies. The police officers grabbed Mónica and began to simulate drowning by plunging her head into a bucket on repeated occasions.

They then suffocated her with plastic bags, beat her buttocks with a wooden board, and dragged her along the floor by her hair.

They continued to ask her questions that Mónica could not answer. Mónica witnessed her husband being beaten with metal studded whips and the skin on his leg being peeled off with a knife.

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The municipal police applied electric shocks to Mónica’s genitals and legs. Following this, a representative of the Torreón security department grabbed Monica and started brusquely kissing her and biting her face and neck and then raped her in front of her husband and brother.

Six police officers then raped her one after the other, then masturbated in her face and forced her to give them oral sex and swallow the sperm.

While Mónica was being brutally raped, uniformed army officers looked on.

The police then took the three of them to the offices of the PGR in Torreón. On the way, Monica’s husband died in her arms as a result of the torture. After more than 12 hours in police custody, Mónica was later flown to the offices of the Deputy Attorney General on Organised Crime (SEIDO) in Mexico City where she was forced to sign a “confession” saying she was part of the Zeta drug cartel.

She then fainted and was rushed to hospital. In August 2014, forensic experts from the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) confirmed that Mónica had been raped and her husband had been arbitrarily executed death resulting from his torture.

In April 2016, the CNDH issued a recommendation calling for a criminal investigation into the case.

Mónica is in prison awaiting the outcome of her trial on charges of involvement in organised crime. Two of her four young children are in care as her family is unable to cover cost of caring for them.

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Denise Blanco and Korina Urtrera

I hugged my girlfriend and they beat us and said, ‘You fucking lesbians’.

-Denise Francisca Blanco Lovato was arrested by Navy marines in 2011.

On 27 August 2011, 25-year-old Korina de Jesús Utrera Domínguez and her girlfriend, Denise Francisca Blanco Lovato, were at Korina’s home in Tabasco, southern Mexico, when armed marines in camouflage uniforms stormed into the house and started to
beat them, yelling: “Don’t play fucking stupid, we are looking for the drugs.”

Both women were blindfolded and taken away without any arrest warrant to a Navy base. There, they were both raped and subjected to near asphyxiation and electric shocks.

While being held by marines, Korina, who had never had sex with a man, told Amnesty
International she was groped, her nipples were pinched, fingers were thrust into her vagina and a tube was inserted into her anus.

One of the marines tried to put his penis into her mouth and shouted “Come on bitch, have a try.” When marines were forcing her to eat food off the ground, one of them yelled: “Enough! They are going to sue us!”

Denise was also raped by marines who placed their gloved fingers into her vagina and applied electric shocks to her genitals. Then, more than 30 hours after their arrest, the women were finally taken to a public prosecutor in the neighbouring state of Veracruz.

Korina was pressured into signing a “confession” admitting to involvement in organised crime and drug offences. Denise was accused of the same crimes. When Korina told a Navy doctor what the marines had done to her, she told Amnesty International
he said: “Shut the fuck up, don’t say bullshit.”

Both women reported the torture they suffered in front of a judge, but their allegations were later ignored by an appeals judge. The PGR opened an investigation into the torture allegedly carried out by marines and four years later official forensic doctors examined both women.

A year after the examination, Denise and Korina still did not know the results. At the time of writing, both women remained in prison awaiting the outcome of their criminal trial. No marine has been charged in the case.

Tailyn Wang

Tailyn was approximately seven weeks pregnant when her house was broken into by federal police officers in February 2014 and she was taken to police installations without any arrest warrant.

After prolonged beating and sexual abuse at the hands of federal police, Tailyn lost her pregnancy inside the offices of the PGR in Mexico City. Two state doctors undertook a medical examination while she was under official custody, and despite her injuries, the first doctor did not properly examine her and dismissed her claims that she had been brutally beaten.

Neither doctor reported her allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

She was given no medicine for her pain and was simply handed a few sheets of paper towel to stuff down her pants before she was whisked away, handcuffed, to board a commercial plane and taken to a federal prison.

When the plane landed in Tepic, northwest Mexico, the airline seat was drenched with blood.

Tailyn told prison officials she had had a miscarriage, but they only yelled at her. It was only then, in prison and at least four days after the arrest, when Tailyn was told that she was being accused of being part of a gang of kidnappers and charged with organised crime.

She bled for five more days in prison without being given any proper medical attention. Tailyn remains in prison awaiting the outcome of her trial. Despite denouncing torture over two years ago, she is still waiting to be examined by an official forensic expert to document the torture and ill-treatment she suffered.

Wendy Noreli Hernández Díaz

Wendy was arbitrarily detained by the Navy in August 2011 in Tabasco state. She told Amnesty International how marines urinated on her and raped her with their gloved fingers, which later provoked an infection that was not adequately attended to by doctors.

After hours of torture, marines took off Wendy’s blindfold and presented her to the
media in front of a table laden with drugs and arms. Wendy denounced the torture she suffered before a judge who ordered public prosecutors to carry out an investigation.

Forensic medical experts from the PGR examined Wendy four years after her arrest. Wendy remains in prison awaiting the outcome of her on charges for production of narcotics.

Read the full report here. 

*Names have been changed

With reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll

 

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