Delivering justice without relying on stereotypes

Stereotypes are present in sentences and resolutions, in daily police work, and prosecutors' offices. 80 percent of those who lived in an abusive relationship and were murdered, never denounced the aggressor. Micromachismo is an almost imperceptible strategy of men.

Delivering justice without relying on stereotypes
Ensuring justice without relying on stereotypes. Photo by Stewart Munro / Unsplash

To avoid the development of stereotyped investigations or criminal proceedings, action strategies must be applied to promote effective equality for women, that is to say, to eliminate the gender models that public servants have and that, on occasions, harm them in sentences and resolutions, highlighted experts convened by the Faculty of Law (FD) of the UNAM.

During the II International Virtual Congress on Criminal Law Carlos Daza Gómez. In memoriam, the coordinator of the Interdisciplinary University Seminar on Citizen Security of the UNAM, Patricia Lucila González Rodríguez, pointed out: To achieve full equality between men and women it is necessary that through education at all levels we work on the modification of socio-cultural patterns of behavior, to eliminate prejudices and practices based on the idea of superiority or inferiority, or stereotyped roles of men and women.

It is important that law schools and police institutions, as well as institutions for the procurement and administration of justice, introduce the formal, in-depth study of the gender perspective, and complement it with the methodologies used by the criminal and criminological sciences, to have an impact on legal practice through teaching, both in the police and in the public prosecutor's office, the public defender's office, and the courts.

Stereotypes are involved in several sentences and resolutions, in daily police work and the public prosecutor's offices, especially when it comes to matters related to them; for example, in the crime of rape, the victim is deprived of credibility by not having tried to escape or not showing the behavior expected by society. Likewise, failure to report promptly or if the affected person and the perpetrator of the aggression know each other since it is assumed that the sexual act was consensual. Other factors such as "dressing inappropriately", or being in a certain place at "certain hours of the night", are issues that must also disappear, considered González Rodríguez.

The head of the Specialized Prosecutor's Office for the Investigation of the Crime of Feminicide, Sayuri Herrera Román, recalled that this instance was created in 2019 in the Attorney General's Office of Mexico City. This crime was previously investigated by the Homicide Prosecutor's Office. Today, for example, there is a trans-femicide investigation unit, the only one of its kind in Mexico, which concentrates the investigation of cases of violent deaths of those who have or have not changed their identity before the civil registry.

There is a specialized unit to deal with cases of violent deaths of those who are unknown and where "our additional task is to try to identify them", work carried out by specialists in different areas: odontology, physical anthropology, obtaining genetic profiles or dactyloscopy, and confrontations are carried out with search commissions and other prosecutors, especially in the case of those found in public spaces. There is also a Unit for the Investigation of Attempted Feminicide. "An effective way to prevent this crime is access to justice and the abatement of impunity," Sayuri Herrera remarked.

In the session dedicated to gender violence, Javier Gustavo Fernández Teruelo, from the University of Oviedo, mentioned: in Spain, while there was confinement due to the pandemic, there was a significant drop in the number of women murdered because being in a closed environment the decision to break away from another of abuse -which can lead to separation, divorce or denunciation- was not easy to carry out.

From March to December 2020, femicide rates decreased significantly; however, when the lockdown ended, in the short period of 10 to 15 days there were nine femicides in that nation. What happened is that when the victims of abuse had courageously decided to take the step of breaking up, they faced the extremely violent reaction of the abuser, who has a vital dependence on the dominating relationship, to the point that he does not conceive of life outside it.

There is a problem of denunciation: 80 percent of those who were murdered had never denounced the aggressor. This places us in the scenario in which we must reflect as a society whether the protection of the person subjected to abuse should always depend on a prior denouncement. "Short-term actions are required to ensure that those who are subjected to violent situations and who are at risk of being murdered have the mechanisms to prevent and avoid a situation that leads to their death," warned Fernández Teruelo.

Meanwhile, the lawyer and academic specialist in Criminal Law, Julio Hernández Barros, explained that micro machismo is subtle, almost imperceptible maneuvers and strategies that men use to exercise daily dominion over women, and that threaten their autonomy and feminine liberties. "They are skillful tricks, ploys, manipulations to impose our reasons, desires, and interests in everyday life."

They go unnoticed because they are considered natural; several of these behaviors are not purposeful but learned since childhood. Saying that a woman's main function is to find a partner, get married and become a mother is one example. But "these subtle actions have the same intentions as exercising more notorious and evident violence; both are aimed at male supremacy over female supremacy," he warned.