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Murder of 7-Year-Old Fuels Outrage Over Femicides in Mexico

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  • A young girl named Fátima was murdered in Mexico, fueling the growing public anger over violence against women in the country.
  • The child’s family claims that if authorities had acted quicker and given the case more attention, she would still be alive today.
  • Fátima’s death came just a few days after a 25-year-old woman, Ingrid Escamilla, was murdered by her boyfriend and photos of her mutilated body were posted by local news outlets.
  • Protesters took to the streets to march over violence against women after Ingrid’s death and did the same after Fátima’s.
  • Pressure has been put on Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been accused of brushing off the demands for justice.

Young Girl Killed

The gruesome murder of a young girl in Mexico has fueled the growing public anger over rising femicide in the country.  

Seven-year-old Fátima went missing on Feb. 11 from her neighborhood on the outskirts of Mexico City. Her mutilated, naked body was found in a plastic bag on Saturday. 

The child was waiting to be picked up from school last week when she was led away by a stranger, an abduction that was caught on video footage. Five people have been questioned in the case, according to the Associated Press. 

Fatima’s family claims that if authorities had acted quicker, the girl would still be alive. 

“Fatima is not with us because the protocols were not followed, because the institutions did not give the attention they should have,” Sonia Lopez, Fatima’s aunt, told reporters. “We will not forget her.”

The girl’s name was launched into the trending topics on Twitter when thousands tweeted #JusticiaParaFátima, meaning Justice for Fátima. Her death led to a continuation of protests in the city, demanding justice for the child as well as other women who have suffered.

Rise in Femicide

Fátima’s slaying is the latest in a string of brutal killings of women and girls to ignite widespread outrage. News of the girl’s death came just a few days after 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla was murdered by her boyfriend and whose body was skinned and maimed in an attempt to dispose of the evidence. 

Shock and fury escalated when local news outlets posted pictures of Escamilla’s mutilated body on their front pages, and protesters took to the streets of Mexico City to march over violence against women on Friday. Demonstrators covered the National Palace with fake blood and wrote messages like “Femicide state” on the walls. 

Femicides, killings of a woman or girl based on her gender, are on the rise in Mexico. A report posted by the National Public Security System showed that femicides increased about 10% last year and 1,006 women and girls were targeted. 

These increased numbers are putting pressure on Mexico’s political leaders, primarily president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been accused of brushing the protests off. 

When he was asked about the government’s position in fighting femicides on Monday, Lopez Obrador said, “The issue has been manipulated a lot in the media,” and added, “I don’t want the issue just to be women’s killings.” 

“We are working so that there won’t be any more women’s killings,” Lopez Obrador also said on Monday. 

The president seemed to shift the blame of Fatima’s death onto other sources, saying that femicides are a result of the “selfishness and accumulation of wealth in a few hands left by neoliberal policies.” 

He also requested that protesters not vandalize the National Palace like they did last week, which only upset people more. According to The Washington Post, demonstrators returned to the building on Tuesday wielding signs that said, “Moralizing is not the solution.” 

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (CBS) (Los Angeles Times)

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Anti-Asian Hate Crimes on the Rise in British Columbia

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  • A report given to Canadian police in Vancouver, British Columbia last week showed a 717% in hate crimes against Asians over the last year and a 97% increase in hate crimes overall.
  • Prosecutors have been urged to more seriously pursue hate crime charges, despite them being harder to prove in court.
  • The trend has been mirrored in Ontario, another Canadian province with significant Asian populations.

Massive Surges in Hate Crimes

The U.S. has struggled with anti-Asian hate crimes over the last year, especially in municipalities like New York City, which reported upwards of a 1,900% increase from one incident to 19 within the year.

However, the U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with the issue. Similar trends have been reported in Canada as well. A report given to the Vancouver police board last week found that in 2019, there were just 12 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes reported in the city. In 2020, there was 98, which marks a 717% increase. Those numbers helped drive the stats of hate crimes in the city up 97% overall.

To be clear, crime overall has been on the rise, likely fueled by struggling local economies dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hard To Pursue Charges

The report has caused Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth to push local prosecutors to seek more hate crime charges.

The region has failed to actually bring charges for most reported hate incidents, with the past year only seeing just one charge filed despite police evidence of such hate crimes. The issue at hand is that adding a hate crime charge makes getting a conviction much harder.

The incidents have led to a push for more strict anti-racism legislation in the province, a position that John Horgan, the British Columbian Premier, has pushed for as far back as June 2020.

British Columbia, according to an assortment of Asian-Canadian advocacy groups, has the most incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes, followed by Ontario. This is especially notable because they are the number two and number one locations of Asian populations in Canada, respectively.

See what others are saying: (Vancouver Sun) (CBC) (CTV News)

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Japan Appoints ‘Minister of Loneliness’ To Combat Rising Suicide Rates

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  • Earlier this month, Japan appointed Sakamoto Tetsushi as the country’s Minister of Loneliness, tasked with addressing rising suicide rates.
  • Suicides were declining worldwide, except in the U.S., ahead of the coronavirus pandemic but have since seen startling spikes.
  • In October, Japan reported 400 more suicide deaths than all COVID-19 related deaths in the nation until that point.
  • While suicide cases among men in Japan are higher, the country has seen a drastic increase in suicides among women, who are more likely to have unstable work that is susceptible to market disruptions from the coronavirus.

Editor’s Note: The Japanese government has asked Western outlets to adhere to Japanese naming conventions. To that end, Japanese names will be written as Family Name followed by Given Name.

Loneliness Is a Rising Issue

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshinori appointed Sakamoto Tetsushi as its Minister of Loneliness earlier this month.

Sakamoto is already in charge of combating Japan’s declining birthrate and regional revitalization efforts, but his new role will see him combating Japan’s rising suicide rate. Suicides were actually on the decline in Japan until the COVID-19 pandemic, which has drastically exacerbated the issue.

That trend reached a milestone in October 2020 when Japan suffered 2,153 suicides – nearly 400 more than all COVID-19 related deaths in Japan until that point. Currently, monthly suicides no longer exceed the total amount of deaths from COVID-19, as Japan faced an outbreak at the end of the year and has over 7,500 COVID-19 deaths.

Even though monthly suicides no longer outstrip total coronavirus deaths, the rate hasn’t let up. While men still make up the vast majority of suicides, there’s been a drastic increase in women taking their own lives. Between October 2020 and October 2019 there was a 70% increase in female suicides.

According to Ueda Michiko, a Japanese professor at Waseda University who studies suicides, women are particularly affected because they often have more unstable employment that is more susceptible to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

She went to tell Insider, “A lot of women are not married anymore. They have to support their own lives and they don’t have permanent jobs. So, when something happens, of course, they are hit very, very hard.”

Internationally Suicides on the Rise

Sakamoto hasn’t outlined any specific plans to combat loneliness in Japan, but he has a blueprint to work from as he’s not the world’s first Minister of Loneliness. The U.K. appointed one in 2018 after a report found more than 9 million Brits said that they often or always felt lonely.

But the job doesn’t seem very easy or desirable, as the U.K. has gone through three ministers of loneliness since then.

COVID-19 has been a massive disruption to suicide rates globally, which had actually been steadily declining for decades. The notable exception to this is the United States, which has faced increases nearly every year since 1999 adding up to almost a 30% total increase over the past two decades.

If you’re in the U.S. and feeling suicidal or have thoughts of suicide contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

For reader across the globe, here are resources in your nation.

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (NDTV) (Insider)

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Thailand Pushes Marijuana as Next Cash Crop

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  • The Thai government issued a statement Sunday urging farmers to grow cannabis as a cash crop.
  • A relatively small amount of farmers currently grow the crop for the nation’s medical marijuana industry, but state-run entities are now offering to buy it for $1,500 per kilogram, which is exponentially higher than other cash crops.
  • For reference, a staple like rice goes for about $1 per kilogram.
  • While other countries in the region have followed Thailand’s footsteps in approving medical cannabis, no others allow local farmers to grow the plant.

Underlying Shift in Region

In a drastic change for marijuana policy across Asia, the Thai government made announcements on Sunday that pushed for farmers to grow marijuana as a cash crop for the country’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry.

The decision is in stark contrast to much of East and Southeast Asian marijuana policy, which often features extreme punishments for trafficking the drug, and nearly as harsh punishments for using it recreationally or for medical purposes.

Thailand was the first to approve cannabis for medical use at the end of 2018, with the law practically going into effect in 2019. Since then, according to deputy government spokesperson Traisuleee Traisoranakul, “…2,500 households and 251 provincial hospitals have grown 15,000 cannabis plants.”

“We hope that cannabis and hemp will be a primary cash crop for farmers.”

Worth Its Weight in Gold

The push for more farmers to partake in the marijuana industry comes after hospitals and the nation’s state-run pharmaceutical company found that they needed more of the plant. Currently, the government’s pharma company is hoping that their price of $1500 for 1 kilo of marijuana that contains 12% cannabidiol (CBD) will be enough incentive.

That’s considerably more than what the government pays for other staple crops, such as rice, which goes for about $1 per kilogram.

Additionally, the government also announced that marijuana can now be used in foods and beverages at restaurants as long as it comes from an approved producer. This opens the door for a tourism industry akin to Amsterdam’s coffee shops

While Thailand is leading the way when it comes to marijuana policy, other nations in the region are following in their footsteps. In 2019, South Korea approved the plant and its derivatives for medical use, and Japan has opened the door for clinical research into the drug and its compounds. Still, those nations require that THC and CBD be imported, and their use is heavily restricted.

Thailand’s move to cultivate a homegrown marijuana industry is a huge shift and will likely help the nation secure a hold in the growing industry, which the industry marketing firm Market Research Future believes will be worth over $50 billion by 2025.

See what others are saying: (Bangkok Post) (Reuters) (Chiangrai Times)

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