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Police clash with protesters on International Women’s Day march in Mexico City

Michael Howie
·2 min read
<p>Protesters clash with the police during a demonstration to commemorate the International Women's Day in Mexico City</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Protesters clash with the police during a demonstration to commemorate the International Women's Day in Mexico City

(AFP via Getty Images)

Police have fired tear gas on activists in Mexico City as clashes broke out during a march to mark International Women’s Day.

Officers with riot shields forced back demonstrators in the Mexican capital’s main square, the Zocalo, after thousands of women attended the march to protest against gender-based violence.

“I’m here so my voice is heard, so justice is done. Yesterday it was my daughter. Tomorrow it could be another girl,” said 39-year-old Irma Quesada.

She said her 12-year-old daughter was still recovering in hospital after being raped and stabbed in the face last week by a 45-year-old man, who is now in jail but who authorities have warned may not stay behind bars because of a lack of evidence.

An estimated five million women were victims of sexual violence in the second half of 2020 in Mexico, including harassment, sexual abuse, attempted rape or rape, the vast majority of which did not get reported.

The marches to mark International Women’s Day were smaller in size than last year’s demonstrations, likely because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

A woman runs through tear gas during a protest outside the National PalaceREUTERS
A woman runs through tear gas during a protest outside the National PalaceREUTERS

Activists in recent days have displayed a purple banner declaring “no abuser in power” across Mexico City’s main plaza, renamed streets with women’s names pasted over signs and used purple, green and pink on social media avatars.

At the national palace, where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador resides, protesters painted the names of hundreds of femicide victims across 10-foot-tall metal barriers erected last week to protect the historic building from protesters.

A woman takes cover behind a shieldREUTERS
A woman takes cover behind a shieldREUTERS

Demonstrators ripped down a section of the barrier and spray-painted sidewalks, kiosks and business facades from the Revolution monument to the historic centre with graffiti accusing the government of not doing enough to prosecute femicides and commemorating murdered women.

Their messages read “Macho AMLO”, in reference to Mr Lopez Obrador, and “We’re not all here.”

Mexican government data shows at least 939 cases of femicide, murders that specifically targeted victims because they were women, occurred last year. The crime rose nearly 130 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

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