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Dear Editor:

The mayor and all of his administration are to be applauded for the initiation of the new police unit the Policía Rosa, to give specialized attention to female victims of violence. The Municipal Institute for Women, already in operation with its attorney, social worker, and psychologist, is also providing critical support for this most dangerous and difficult effort. Family lawyers in the US are the lawyers most likely to be murdered by their clients. The police are at high risk in interventions.

While the new police unit and the Municipal Institute for Women are important first steps, some other steps are critical to further success:

All hospitals should be stocked with rape test kits, and the administrator should be charged with annual training of the doctors and staff, including training in storage of kits for future use as evidence in prosecution.

When I woke up with a knife at my throat and was raped in Salt Lake City, the police took a statement, then took me straight to the nearest hospital for rape test procedures. The rape test kits were there in the ER. The staff was trained to use them. The kits were stored as evidence for future prosecution.

I have been told that the hospitals here are not outfitted with rape test kits. I understand there is one person to go to the municipal building to perform the test for a community of 130,000.

I know, as a result of living in Mexican communities, of cases where even though the rape was so publicly known that there were face-offs between the families of the raped girls and the male rapists, the families of the rapists, including, in one case, a delegado [elected official], immediately sent the rapist over the border to the US to prevent prosecution or violence. In some cases, even where there has been rape and attempted murder, the family of the rapist has sent him out of the community to live in Celaya or a more distant location in order to prevent justice. When the rapist returns to the community in two or three years, as commonly the plan, the rape kit evidence would be critical to any possible prosecution.

Safe houses are critical to the prevention of further violence.

As far as I know, there is only one in San Miguel. Most of these crimes are interfamily or community-based violence. The victim cannot go home and be safe.

Community education is critical.

This could and should take many forms, including education of communities and families as well as young men and their families. The word limit on this letter prevents me from exploring all the many possibilities for this.

The Mexican government’s new femicide law is also welcome. In all countries, women are at serious risk of violence, but in Latin America, the risk is beyond horrifying, as is documented in this Al Jazeera piece: america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/2015/1/mexico-s-pandemicfemicides.html

The health care costs resulting from this violence are a national monetary drain. Everyone loses.

 

Christine Eleanor Anderson

 

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