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Gender-Based Violence as Political Violence. Empirical Evidence from Mexico.

Latin America
Political Violence
Women
Qualitative
Empirical
Katharina Wagner
Würzburg Julius-Maximilians University
Katharina Wagner
Würzburg Julius-Maximilians University
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Abstract

Gender-based violence is a global phenomenon and a tool used to maintain women´s subordinate status. Selectively directed against women in politics, GBV is particularly devastating, as it constitutes a violation of fundamental political rights and therefore the principles of democracy. Meanwhile political violence directed against men is not typically aimed at their gender or status as a representative of a broader social group, the violence against women has the aim to discourage them from being or becoming active in politics because of their gender. As the violence against them differ significantly from that directed against their male colleagues, it has to be analyzed separately and with a gender-perspective. Political GBV exists, to varying degrees, in every country. Paradoxically countries with high level of women in parliament and a gender-friendly constitution that guarantees a quota for women also have high levels of GBV. One emblematic case regarding this issue is Mexico. Mexico had introduced the gender parity for candidates for elections, which led to a parliament with over 40% female representatives. The country amended its law on violence against women and its electoral legislation to incorporate a definition of acts of political violence against women. However, as women began increasingly to move out of the private realm into the traditional male-dominated spaces and institutions, the resistance grew in proportion to the gains achieved by women. Political GBV in Mexico embarks physical, psychological and economic violence and has typically a clear sexual connotation. It is directed not just against female politicians but also activists and journalists. Such violence impedes the ability of Mexican women to exercise their political rights freely and in equality with men. The paper suggest that political violence against women has to be analyzed separately from that directed against men as it has certain gender-specific characteristics. It aims to tackle the phenomenon that is hindering women’s progress towards equality and undermining the foundations of democracy from an empirical perspective. The empirical findings were gleaned from qualitative interviews with politically active women in Mexico and are part of a comprehensive study about the democratic quality of Mexico. By focusing on the nature of the perpetrators, their motivations and the violent strategies, the paper will show that GBV has a clear political dimension and devastating consequences for democracy. It can be assumed that this not only applicate for the Mexican case but is a generalizable finding. The aim of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding and recognition of the problem of political motivated GBV.