Mexico: Justice for Women Centers lack legal backing

By Gabriela Ramírez

Mexico, July (SEMlac). - The Justice for Women Centers (CEJUMs) have been established under a major public policy seeking to combat gender violence and provide victims with care.
These facilities, however, lack legal and institutional support, and effective operational programs and staff regulations.
They were created in 2010 by the Ministry of the Interior's National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (CONAVIM). There are 31 centers currently operating in 21 states of the Republic.
According to the CONAVIM website, the idea is to follow the international recommendations formulated, for example, by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 
Justice for Women (NGO) recently prepared a report on the current condition of these centers and identified three local authorities in charge of their operation: Governor's Offices (20), Prosecutor's Offices (8), and Legislative Power (1). They have been included, however, in basic rather than federal laws.
Most centers are under the umbrella of Prosecutor's Offices (13), Co-Prosecutors' Offices (8), Women's Secretariats (4), the Ministry of the Interior (3), the Executive Commissions for Victim Care (2), and the Secretariat for Public Safety (1).
For instance, the center in Pachuca (Hidalgo), which is directly under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Interior, finds it easier to get involved in intersectoral coordination and decision-making.
The report also indicated that there are no standardized goals, membership criteria, and roles for all centers.
"Some articles of association even contain gender stereotypes," it added.
Out of 31 centers, 11 have no eligibility criteria for directors and those who have them do not include training and/or experience in key issues like gender, human rights, and specialized victim care.
Over 97 per cent of the center's staff in Mexico City comes from other units, while 100 per cent of the staff in Chiapas works full-time for the center.
A total of 18 facilities have staff evaluation mechanisms in place, but they have not always been designed from a gender perspective and a truly comprehensive approach to violence.
The National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (CONAVIM) is in charge of allocating resources to the centers under established guidelines.
The study has revealed, however, that resource allocation is not in keeping with specific needs and socio-demographic characteristics.
"The center in Zacatecas had budget allocations available in 2014, but started up operations in 2016," it added.
Only 11 centers have developed annual operational programs; six are putting them together now; four have no programs in the making; and seven have provided no information on this matter.
The articles of association should include establishing a secretariat to collaborate and coordinate actions with other secretariats for the provision of interdisciplinary services.
The secretariats should be decentralized, have legal personality, capital and budget of their own, and discourage gender stereotypes.
The idea is also to set up transparency and accounting mechanisms for smooth resource implementation.
After the report was developed, five civil organizations (Justice for Women, Kookay Alternative Social Science, Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity in Oaxaca, Rosario Castellanos Women's Study Center in Oaxaca, and No More Murders in Yucatan) agreed to implement a pilot project for public auditing through an observatory for all CEJUMs. It was launched last July 11 in the capital city.
"This will make it possible to provide violence victims with better care," said Adelaida Salas, leader of No More Murders.
Ximena Avellaneda, director of GesMujer in Oaxaca, indicated that there have been 73 women's murders since last December, when a new six-year term began for the state government.
"We do not know how many of these murders are actually being investigated," she regretted.
"In Oaxaca, a second center has not started up operations in the municipality of Juchitán due to CONAVIM budget cuts. This is really contradictory because the idea should be to prioritize the prevention of violence against women," she concluded.

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