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CEDAW in Action: Mexico

On January 21, 2013, MADRE called on President Obama to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Throughout this week, we will be calling attention to instances in which CEDAW has made a concrete difference in the lives of women around the world.

In 2009, Grettel Rodríguez Almeida survived an attempted murder by her boyfriend, who had previously threatened to harm her and commit suicide. He used a knife to leave deep wounds in her stomach and slashed her face. When she arrived at the hospital, staff began suturing her wounds without anesthesia to save her life. Her boyfriend was caught still holding the weapon several hours later.

Grettel’s attacker’s charges were lessened from attempted murder to aggravated assault, and he served less than two years in jail. Grettel lived in fear that he would come after her. In 2012, she won an extended legal battle in Mexico’s Supreme Court. The unprecedented decision re-opened her case with the far more serious charge of attempted murder.

In a filing that played a significant role in having Grettel’s case re-opened, the United Nation’s Human Rights Office in Mexico drew the court’s attention to its obligations in light of its ratification of CEDAW, noting that “the failure to duly investigate and punish violence in the private sphere sends a message of social acceptance” and that “the administration of justice must avoid reinforcing prejudice and stereotypes that justify, tolerate or minimize the intrinsic gravity of acts of violence against women.” This is one way that CEDAW is used as a tool to make international human rights standards a reality in the lives of oppressed and marginalized people throughout the world.