Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech to the media at a hotel in Mexico City July 2, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Henry Romero)
Human rights group Amnesty International released a report on Wednesday criticizing Mexican authorities for failing to tackle violence against women and highlighting abuses in the state recently governed by president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto.
The report by the London-based group alleged that Mexican police solve only one out of every 21 rapes. Mexican officers also have flawed procedures for documenting the murders of women, in many cases failing to carry out proper autopsies, the report said.
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In 2010 alone, there were 2,418 women murdered in Mexico, according to the report. The State of Mexico, where Pena Nieto governed from 2005 until 2011, was one of the states with the worst female murder rates.
Pena Nieto won the July 1 election to replace President Felipe Calderon and is due to take office in December.
The Amnesty International report highlighted a case in 2006, when Mexico State police were alleged to have sexually abused 26 women arrested during protests in the town of San Salvador Atenco.
Several police officers were charged over the incident but all were acquitted on the grounds of lack of evidence.
"The poor quality investigations by Mexico state prosecutors also undermined the outcome of judicial proceedings, ensuring acquittals and decisions not to prosecute," it said in the report.
Pena Nieto has accepted responsibility for the police crackdown on protesters that led to the alleged abuses and said it was one of his most difficult moments as governor.
Pena Nieto's female-policy adviser Rosario Robles said that the president elect also worked hard to reduce the murder rate of women in the state.
"The governor faced up to the issue, he assembled experts, women who have fought against female killings in this country, and he took their conclusions firmly on board," Robles told Reuters.
While the number of female homicides in the state are still among the highest in the country, they fell from 382 in 2005 to 277 in 2010, according to official figures.
Pena Nieto's July 1 election victory brought the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI back to power after a 12-year hiatus. The party ran Mexico for most of the 20th century during which time it was accused of rigging elections and violently attacking protesters.
In the run-up to the election, student protesters marched against Pena Nieto, accusing him of being authoritarian and criticizing the alleged abuses against female protesters in the State of Mexico.
A well-groomed and handsome 45-year-old, Pena Nieto did well with female voters in the election and women flocked to him during campaign events, sometimes throwing themselves at him.
But many Mexican feminists criticize the former governor, who is married to a soap opera star and has children out of wedlock with two women, for being weak on female issues.
"He systematically uses women for his own political benefit, and to improve his image," said journalist and activist Lydia Cacho. "But in reality he doesn't have the slightest interest in gender-related policies."