Mexico: women’s groups call for Cancún boycott

Civil Pact for Life, Liberty and the Rights of Women of Mexico, an association of 90 groups, held a rally in Mexico City on May 5 to call for a boycott of the seaside resort city of Cancún in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo as a protest against the state government’s anti-choice policies. Like more than half of Mexico’s 31 states, Quintana Roo recently passed a strict anti-abortion law. The protesters charged that the state, governed by the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), acts “as if it was a church.” “Get your rosaries out of our ovaries,” they chanted.

Mexican women’s groups have focused on the case of a pregnant 11-year-old indigenous girl in Quintana Roo. The girl, known as “Amalia,” says she was raped and impregnated by her stepfather when she was 10. She is now being forced to have the baby, although even under the new state law a rape victim can still choose to abort.

Marta Lamas, from the Elective Reproduction Information Group, and journalist and activist Lydia Cacho have charged that the local branch of the Mexican government’s family welfare agency, Integral Family Development (DIF), sent Amalia to a clinic run by the anti-abortion group Provida instead of directing her to a state health agency where she would have been told her options. After passing the 12th week of pregnancy, Amalia could no longer get an abortion even in the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), which passed a law in April 2007 permitting elective abortion through the first three months. The activists say the pregnancy is highly dangerous for Amalia, not only because of her age but also because her family is impoverished and she suffers from the effects of malnutrition.

(Lydia Cacho is the author of a 2005 book on a child prostitution ring in Cancún and its powerful backers; the exposé’s publication led to her arrest and abduction by Puebla state authorities in December 2005.)

According to UNICEF and the state health authorities, the rate of reported sexual abuse cases in Quintana Roo is almost three times the average for Mexico. In 2009, 881 minors became pregnant through rape in the state, while the number this year is already 458. (New York Times, May 6 from AP; Diario de Yucatán, Mexico, May 6 from EFE; La Jornada, Mexico, April 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 9.

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