World

Amid rash of violence against women, Mexico declares first-ever 'gender alert'

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 25:  Police stand near the car where the body of a 13 year old boy lies dead, one of numerous murders over a 24 hour period, on March 25, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano all visited Mexico on March 23 for discussions centered on Mexico's endemic drug-related violence. The border city of Juarez, Mexico has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon's strategy of sending 7000 troops to Juarez has not mitigated the situation. With a population of 1.3 million, 2,600 people died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans recently who worked for the U.S. Consulate and were killed as they returned from a children's party.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

JUAREZ, MEXICO - MARCH 25: Police stand near the car where the body of a 13 year old boy lies dead, one of numerous murders over a 24 hour period, on March 25, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano all visited Mexico on March 23 for discussions centered on Mexico's endemic drug-related violence. The border city of Juarez, Mexico has been racked by violent drug related crime recently and has quickly become one of the most dangerous cities in the world to live. As drug cartels have been fighting over ever lucrative drug corridors along the United States border, the murder rate in Juarez has risen to 173 slayings for every 100,000 residents. President Felipe Calderon's strategy of sending 7000 troops to Juarez has not mitigated the situation. With a population of 1.3 million, 2,600 people died in drug-related violence last year and 500 so far this year, including two Americans recently who worked for the U.S. Consulate and were killed as they returned from a children's party. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2010 Getty Images)

Activists on Wednesday hailed the Mexican federal government's first-ever "gender alert," declared for a central state in response to a high incidence of killings and disappearances of women.

The Interior Department alert covers 11 municipalities in the State of Mexico, outside the capital, and cites "systematic violence against women" and "an atmosphere of impunity and permissiveness" toward such crimes.

According to the report, more than 1,700 women were slain in the state between 2005 and 2014, and at least 4,281 women and girls disappeared. Most of the missing reappeared alive, but 1,554 have never been heard from again. The state has a population of over 15 million.

The "gender alert" triggers measures designed to spur investigation and prevention, though none have officially been announced.

The mechanism has been on the books since 2007, but until now social groups and activists had not succeeded in persuading authorities to use it.

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"This is something historic that will set precedents for this mechanism to be more agile, and for guarantees for women's life and access to justice," said Maria de la Luz Estrada of the National Citizens' Observatory on Femicide. "Now there has been a commitment. There is no turning back."

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