Mexican female journalists suffer from sexual, psychological violence, according to report

Mexican female journalists have been attacked 115 times in the last 10 years, with a noticeable increase after 2009, according to a new report by the association Women's Communication and Information (CIMAC in Spanish). What's worse, the killings of 13 female journalists remain unsolved, said the organization.

Mexico is considered the most hostile country for the press in the American continent, where male as well as female journalists are victims of threats, attacks, and killings. See this map about attacks against the Mexican press for more details. However, CIMAC said that there is violence stigmatization against women, according to the report "Violence against Female Journalists in Mexico."

“There is the belief that women lie or provoke attacks and there is a lack of belief that violence is a product of their reporting work," said Lucía Lagunes, CIMAC general director, in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

For example, authorities of Veracruz said that they believed the killing of journalist Regina Martínez of the magazine Proceso, was a "crime of passion," because her neck showed bite marks.

The CIMAC report identified attack methods against female journalists, including sexual and psychological violence, that are different from attacks against their male colleagues. Discrediting and harassment are common attacks against women's freedom of expression, said Lagunes.

Authorities often question the personal life and expose private issues of female journalists to justify the attacks against them and re-victimize them, said the CIMAC report. In another report, the organization Article 19 estimated that almost 30 percent of attacks made by public officials are aimed against female journalists. “But we think there are more attacks against female journalists that remain unreported," said Lagunes.

In July, journalist Sanjuana Martínez was violently arrested because of a lawsuit for the custody of her children, but the journalist said this was actually revenge against her for reporting about judicial corruption in Monterrey. In 2011, a magazine publisher in the city of Cancún reported about a campaign to discredit her after publishing about the diversion of resources from the former state governor, and the most famous case is that of journalist Lydia Cacho, who received sexist insults and rape threats when she was illegally arrested in December 2005.

Lagunes said that authorities should include gender perspectives in journalist protection protocols and recommended that female journalists take precautionary measures such as to "be accompanied by a colleague to avoid contact being alone" during interviews, and to register cell phone calls and emails that represent physical and psychological attacks against their person.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.