Mexican Woman Beaten and Raped for Participating in Demonstration

 Bárbara Italia Méndez Stop Impunity for Bárbara Italia Méndez and the Women of Atenco, Mexico

MEXICO, (RUSHPRNEWS) May 5, 2008 – Representative Hilda Solis of California and Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts are encouraging other Representatives to sign on to their letter to Mexican Officials expressing concern about the sexual assault of Bárbara and the 25 other women and urging resolution to all the allegations of human rights violations.

Hundreds of Amnesty International members will descend on Congress on Monday April 28, 2008 to bring attention to the international human rights scandal of violence against women They will be asking hundreds of Members of Congress to sign on to the Solis-McGovern letter to Mexican officials. Join Bárbara and your fellow Amnesty International members in calling on Congress to help end violence against women internationally by urging a thorough investigation into the sexual assault of Bárbara and 25 other women in San Salvador Atenco on May 3-4 2006, and signing on to the Solis-McGovern letter.
On May 3-4, 2006, police responded to protests by activists from a local peasant organization in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico State.  In the violence that ensued, a total of 47 women were arrested. Bárbara Italia Méndez was a 27-year old student and volunteer working for street children when she was detained on 4 May 2006 by members of the Mexican Federal Preventive Police in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico State. She had gone there to show support for the community after violence between the police and protestors resulted in the death of a child. Police officers broke into the house where she was seeking refuge and arrested her without explanation. The officers pulled her hair, beat her, and forced her into a state police vehicle with her shirt pulled over her head. She was made to lie on top of other detainees, and during the journey to the prison police officers sexually assaulted her, raping her repeatedly.
 Once at the “Santiaguito” prison near Toluca in Mexico State, the prison doctors who gave her a check-up failed to document all her physical injuries or to gather evidence of the sexual abuse she had suffered. Bárbara Italia was held in prison for 12 days before being released on bail. Like many others, she is still facing criminal charges. Security forces arrested a total of 47 women during the protests in San Salvador Atenco, and 26 of these women made complaints to the authorities that they were subject to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse at the hands of the police, in particular when they were being transferred by bus to prison. None of the officials responsible have been prosecuted, and more than 2 years later, they are still waiting for justice.

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