What we know about the death of Shanquella Robinson in Mexico 1:59
The murder of Shanquella Robinson is being investigated as a femicide, a term unknown to many in the United States, as this gender-based crime has not been defined in the country's law despite being a global problem.
Robinson, a 25-year-old student at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, died in October while staying at a luxury rental property in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Prosecutors in Mexico are seeking to extradite one of Robinson's friends as a suspect in the case.
What we know about the crime of Shanquella Robinson, a North Carolina woman who died while on vacation in Mexico
Daniel de la Rosa, the attorney general for Baja California Sur, told local media last week that an arrest warrant had been issued for the crime of femicide, or the murder of a woman because of her gender, in relation to the Robinson case.
No one has been charged in the case, and authorities have not released the names of Robinson's friends.
Unlike Mexico and other countries in Latin America, the United States does not have a law that recognizes femicide as a crime different from homicide, which, according to several experts, does not mean that murders directed at women do not occur in the United States at a alarming rate.
"Femicides happen all the time in the US, and many famous murder cases that we all have on our conscience are actually femicides, but we don't put that label on them," said Dabney P. Evans, director of the Center for Humanitarian Emergencies. from Emory University, who studies violence against women.
What is femicide and how serious is it worldwide?
As the investigation into Robinson's death continues, here's what you need to know about what counts as femicide in Mexico, why gender-based violence is a big problem globally, and why academics say legislating femicide in the United States could help women.
Shanquella Robinson, 25, was traveling with friends in Mexico when she was found dead in October.
(Credit: Courtesy of the Robinson family)
It has become a crisis in Mexico
Femicide is the most extreme form of gender violence (GV) and is defined as the "intentional killing of women for the fact of being women."
Femicides are divided into two categories: intimate and non-intimate femicide.
The first refers to the murder of women by their current or former partners, while the second is the murder of women by people with whom they had no intimate relationship.
In most countries, femicide is not differentiated from homicide in criminal law, but Mexico is among at least 16 countries that have included femicide as a specific crime.
Under federal law in Mexico, individuals can face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
The difference between homicide, or illegal murder, and femicide, varies from state to state in Mexico.
There may be a history of violence — sexual or not — and threats, or "if the victim was in the community, for example, and if she was murdered and her body was in public view," said Beatriz García Nice, who leads the initiative. on gender violence from the Wilson Center.
A video circulating online in recent weeks appears to show a physical altercation inside a room between Robinson and another person.
Her father, Bernard Robinson, told CNN that the video shows her daughter being thrown to the ground and hit on the head.
The mother of Shanquella Robinson, the American who appeared dead in Mexico, talks about the contradictory versions of the case
It is not clear when the video was recorded, nor if it shows the moment when Robinson suffered the injury that led to his death.
Although there is legislation against femicide in Mexico, "the main problem is execution," Garcia said.
The number of gender-based violence cases is underestimated in national statistics and the law is "under-enforced" in the judicial system, she said.
García affirms that almost 95% of the cases of feminicide in Mexico go unpunished.
"If you commit a crime of femicide, there really isn't much of a chance that you'll be convicted for it. And that's one of the reasons why we see the rates continue to be very, very high."
Alejandra Márquez, assistant professor of Spanish with a focus on gender and sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean at Michigan State University, said the "femicide" crisis in Mexico began several decades ago and gained national attention for first time in the 1990s when hundreds of women were murdered in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez.
Femicide figures in Mexico show the scope of violence that does not stop
"Before, there was an idea, especially in central Mexico, that 'women are killed there at the border,' but as it has spread throughout the country, it has become a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored." Marquez told CNN.
"When you're in Mexico, it's part of the daily conversation," he added.
More needs to be done in America, experts say
The disproportionate homicides of black women, the missing or murdered Indian crisis and the fatal shootings of women at Atlanta-area spas in 2021 are just a few examples of cases that could be classified as femicide, experts say.
"As a society, we have to recognize that these are not one-off deaths. In fact, they are related to patterns of male violence, and we need to think more carefully about preventing that type of violence," said Evans, the University of California academic. Emory.
An analysis of homicide data by the Violence Policy Center shows that 2,059 women were killed by men in the United States in 2020 and that 89% of them knew their attackers.
For Evans, having femicide legislation in the US would not solve the problems of toxic masculinity, patriarchy and misogyny that lead to gender violence, but the terminology could "allow us to talk about this phenomenon" and prevent it.
Laws addressing gender-based violence in the US and domestic violence tracking mechanisms exist, but they are not perfect.
America's gun epidemic is deadlier than ever, and there are wide disparities in who dies
Federal hate crime law covers violent or property crimes motivated, at least in part, by bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.
At the state level, the definition of a hate crime varies, and several states do not cover gender-based bias.
Earlier this year, federal lawmakers reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act.
This law is intended to protect and support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, all of which are documented precursors to femicide.
During a ceremony in March to celebrate the passage of the law, President Joe Biden said more needs to be done to address the problem.
"No one, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should be abused. Period. And if they do, they should have the services and support they need to get through it. And we're not going to rest."
Gender violence is a global problem
An estimated 81,100 women and girls around the world were intentionally killed last year, and about 56% of them were killed by their partners or family members, according to a UN report released last week.
It is difficult to describe the full extent of gender-based violence, according to the report, because approximately 4 out of 10 murders reported by authorities "do not have contextual information that would allow them to be identified and counted as gender-related killings."
"These rates are alarmingly high, as we can see; however, that is the tip of the iceberg," said Kalliopi Mingeirou, head of the Ending Violence Against Women Section at UN Women, one of the entities that compiled the data. report.
Mingeirou said that when a femicide is not legally classified for what it is, the police cannot properly investigate.
Other challenges to stop and prevent femicides are the lack of resources and training of the authorities that must apply the laws.
"What women and girls around the world deserve is to have a world that respects their choices, that respects their rights," Mingeirou said.
"We need to have equal rights. We have the paramount right to be free from violence, because if we are free from violence and harassment, we can achieve, and we can thrive in this world."