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“I had been raised for this”: in Mexico, these indigenous women bought by their households

“In the future I went to assist shear the sheep, and once I got here again, everybody was in a circle in entrance of my home. My dad mentioned to me, “Marina, come over right here. Right here is your husband.” Marina is 12 years previous that day. She lives within the coronary heart of an indigenous group in a small Mexican village in Chiapas: Zinacantán.

Her response is that of a pre-teen. Carefree, logical. Solely the guts speaks. “I do not know this gentleman, I cannot marry.” She noticed her three older sisters depart on the similar age, in tears, with males she had by no means heard of. A short presentation at house, a fast packing of their belongings and the identical day, they left to dwell of their new house. So his response stays agency, regardless of the stress from the group. It is no.

The sanction can be agency. “I rejected this man that my father offered to me. I broke the legislation”, she says. This unstated legislation of the group the place all younger women have to be married between the ages of 12 and 18. “All the normal authorities in the neighborhood arrived and determined to evict me and all my household.”

Defending tradition first

It was firstly of the Nineteen Nineties. Immediately, we observe some progress, particularly the final legislation on the rights of youngsters and adolescents: since 2014, the minimal age for marriage is eighteen years previous. Formally, in Mexico in 2012, there have been 54,138 marriages during which a minimum of one of many two protagonists was a minor, in comparison with 43 in 2021 (out of 500,000 on common). In actuality, it’s unattainable to depend pressured marriages.

Above all, not solely are these figures indicative earlier than 2014 (12 months of the legislation), however the Community for Kids’s Rights in Mexico (Redim) additionally insists that to bypass this constraint, communities settle for free unions earlier than marriage. at 18 years previous. Based on Redim, which makes use of knowledge from the Nationwide Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), Chiapas is without doubt one of the 4 Mexican states the place there are probably the most pressured unions. The others are Guerrero, Tabasco and Michoacán.

This apply goes properly past the group of Marina. Mexico contains 62 ethnic teams, and greater than 20% of the inhabitants defines itself as “indigenous” in keeping with the Inegi – that’s to say descending from pre-Hispanic cultures, with a language and customs totally different from Mexicans. Not all pressured unions happen in these communities, and never all communities are affected by pressured marriage. However their need to guard their tradition results in guidelines such because the union of minors with males of the identical ethnic group.

Little women introduced up for dowry

After her eviction, Marina’s household moved to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the massive city subsequent door. Based on his phrases, his mother and father then advised him: “It was you who broke the legislation, so we depart you right here, and we do not need to know something about you anymore.” “They deserted me there, on the street. I did not communicate a phrase of Spanish, I solely knew Tzotzil [la langue de sa communauté, ndlr]and I may neither learn nor write”she says.

“Indigenous ladies have no idea their rights, as a result of nobody
do not educate them.”

Marina, indigenous ladies’s rights activist

Marina humiliated her household. She thought they had been now free, she had no concept that folks and kids had no place to dwell and no cash. “Later I understood that I had been raised for that, for the dowry that I’ll carry again to my household. By refusing this marriage, I introduced them nothing, so that they left me., she analyzes. Certainly, right here, the person involves the younger lady with presents akin to sugar, bread and even pox (a typical Chiapas alcohol). If an settlement is reached, he then pays the dowry, the worth of which is negotiated between the longer term husband and the daddy of the household.

Jennifer González, journalist at AFP, devoted a report back to this topic in June 2021. She highlighted the sale of younger women to their future in-laws in round sixty villages within the state of Guerrero. , for a worth starting from 2,000 to 18,000 {dollars} (1,800 to 16,800 euros).

An unconditional submission

Years (of hassle) later, Marina wished to vary issues. First, by addressing ladies’s points throughout vacationer visits – she is a information in San Cristóbal. Then, by being a part of an affiliation for the protection of indigenous ladies’s rights.

There are a number of, she selected Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya. For Marina, “Indigenous ladies do not know their rights, as a result of nobody teaches them. A local girl is accustomed to obey. Married ladies are very depending on the husband. They can’t earn cash with out their husband’s consent.

There are numerous initiatives. In Zinacantán, ladies create stunning materials by hand, which they promote to vacationers and native populations and equally share the income from the gross sales. However this does embody spousal consent. It’s the similar for all those that go to the markets to promote garments, trinkets, potatoes and different foodstuffs.

Fifty machete blows

One other drawback is that indigenous ladies aren’t so accustomed to receiving assist, and subsequently to accepting it, in keeping with the vacationer information. Marina thus remembers a lady crushed with a machete by her husband. The explanation: he got here house early from work and located her doing nothing.

“She was not making the tortillas, to eat for the night”, explains Marina. He asks for a proof, she apologizes and will get busy, but it surely’s too late. “We counted greater than fifty blows on his physiqueparticulars the vacationer information. She was taken to a hospital, and a lawyer got here to see her there and mentioned, “I will enable you.” She replied: ‘No, I can not, I must ask permission from my husband so that you can assist me.

“These youngsters turn out to be extraordinarily weak. As soon as bought, they fall right into a type of slavery, serving their new households.

Jennifer González, AFP journalist

The lawyer, flabbergasted, tries to elucidate to him that she doesn’t must obey this man. The sufferer doesn’t budge. “That is what number of indigenous ladies nonetheless die of home violence. A tiny fraction of them ask for assist.notes Marina.

By preventing towards pressured marriages, politicians and associations are preventing towards the violence that these unions signify for younger women: submission, being uprooted from their households, the impression of getting as a lot worth as an animal.

“These youngsters turn out to be extraordinarily weak. As soon as bought, they fall right into a type of slavery, on the service of their new households for home or agricultural duties, to not point out the “stepfathers, who generally sexually abuse them”, Abel Barrera defined to me, an anthropologist, head of the NGO Tlachinollan”explains the AFP journalist.

However these unions have much more penalties. The Redim lists amongst different issues: pregnancies and untimely births, demise throughout being pregnant or problems throughout childbirth, college dropouts and copy of poverty for the descendants. Based on Inegi, one out of ten youngsters aged 15 to 19 in a pair is the pinnacle of the household, and practically half of the individuals who had their first little one earlier than the age of 19 aren’t at school (or have by no means been). ).

ladies absent from
public house

Organizations and associations have a number of missions, akin to welcoming and caring for victims, but additionally elevating consciousness of the lives of indigenous ladies and the violence they undergo.

“Indigenous ladies can not even socialize, create friendships outdoors the group with out being thought of as
simple women, loopy ones.”

Marina, indigenous ladies’s rights activist

However for that, it might nonetheless be obligatory to have the ability to get in contact with them. “We would not have entry to indigenous ladies as a result of they’re overwhelmed by the foundations to be reveredlaments Marina. They can’t even socialize, create bonds of friendship outdoors the group with out being thought of as simple women, loopy. Nonetheless, if so, “they will not marry as a result of they’re labeled that approach and nobody in the neighborhood desires them anymore”.

The complexity of the state of affairs lies right here. The liberty of indigenous ladies is hampered by a complete host of guidelines, together with pressured marriages. However it isn’t attainable for them (the overwhelming majority) to not marry. Marina herself thinks she would have mentioned sure if she had all the results in thoughts. “And once more, I did properly. I did not take medication, I did not must prostitute myselfshe lists. What’s the case of different ladies rejected for having mentioned no.

Least worst end result?

Furthermore, pressured marriages of minors usually stay, even within the eyes of these involved, the most suitable choice. A examine by the Ford Basis and the Investigación en Salud y Demografía revealed in 2017 highlights varied components that specify why these unions are so current within the nation.

On the high, there may be the popularity of the group for these younger women, a method of accessing monetary stability, and even of escaping home violence (which they usually discover of their new household). But in addition, the hypersexualization of younger ladies that makes males desire to elect a spouse who isn’t even an grownup but. A combat that considerations and have to be waged all through Mexico, and never simply the indigenous communities.

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