By Oscar Lopez
MEXICO CITY - Mexico City's first elected woman mayor vowed on Tuesday to eradicate violence against women and end entrenched impunity for gender-based crimes in the capital.
"To avoid and eliminate violence against women ... finally, that is the objective," Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said at an event launching a roundtable on access to justice for women and girls in Mexico City.
"It's not fighting it - the objective is ultimately to eradicate violence," she said. "That should be the goal."
Violence against women is a persistent problem in Mexico, a conservative Catholic country where machismo reigns and traditional concepts of gender are deeply entrenched.
More than 1,100 women were murdered in Mexico from January through May, according to government figures, with nearly 370 killed by men because of their gender.
Femicide, as the crime is known, has been a federal crime in Mexico since 2012.
A 2018 report by the National Institute for Statistics and Geography found about 45 percent of women in Mexico had experienced some form of violence from a partner, with almost 18 percent suffering physical abuse.
Mexico City alone has seen 81 murders of women and 13 femicides so far this year, government data showed.
Sheinbaum outlined measures her government has taken to prosecute offenders and protect women, such as placing female lawyers in each of the city's 16 public ministries to support women presenting violence claims.
She said such protective measures have quadrupled since last year, also citing the strengthening of the city's 32 legal and psychological support shelters known as "Lunas."
"We are saving women," she said.
Tackling impunity was another critical step, with 15 femicide cases prosecuted in the capital this year and five men sentenced, she said. Also, six cases were reclassified to femicides from suspected suicide or homicides.
Rights activists welcomed the mayor's comments, but warned that more concrete steps were needed.
"It's a very good declaration - what we need are actions," Juan Martín Perez Garcia, executive director of REDIM, a collective of children's advocacy groups, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Right now, (what authorities are doing) is not creating a change in the statistics," he said.
Sheinbaum, an award-winning scientist with the ruling Morena party, was elected a year ago in a landslide after promising among other things to tackle gender inequality and rising crime.
She was the first woman elected to one of Mexico's most powerful offices and only the second to serve as mayor. Mayor Rosario Robles governed from 1999 to 2000 after her predecessor Cuauhtemoc Cardenas resigned to run for president.