Gender Based Violence in Mexico and Saudi Arabia
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A Comparative Study on Gender-Based Violence in Mexico and Saudi Arabia This is a double-country study, comparing a conservative Christian country and a conservative Islamic country in terms of the root cause of violence against gays and the response of the government to the said violence. The study will assess which government is more effective in responding to the said violence and to determine whether or not religion affects the government’s response to gender-violence.
Violence is present everywhere. It can be between neighbours, countries, ethnic groups, social groups, government, factions, sectors, families, workplaces and so on. Violence can come in many forms: from intimidation to different kinds of abuses such as verbal, physical, social, emotional, economic and sexual abuse. Everyday people turn on the television set and see violent things happening all over the world. With the way violence is publicized over the news, television, Internet, radio, movies and games; violence becomes a commonplace. The spectrum of violence has different levels: from minor ones to severe ones. For instance, violence can range from a scuffle between two individuals to a full scale World War between and even among nations. Generally, violence is associated with aggression, brute force, and the intention of causing harm. Political, social, religious, economic, criminal and personal differences are some of the most passionate issues we face as human beings. They are often the most common reasons for violence as they are often refers to how people define themselves. (Alder & Denmark, 2004)
Violence on a political level may be used to protect citizens or sometimes to protect them outside forces. Ethnic or racial groups may use violence to fight against oppression and discrimination. Religion can also be a driving force of violence, because of differences in religion (such as performing terrorist attacks in the name of God). When someone assaults, robs, or commits a homicide there is usually violence involved. Emotions are probably one of the biggest triggers of violence. Individuals can be easily performing violence due to any number of different personal issues or disagreements. Gender-based violence is violence against women based on the precept that women have subordinate status in society. It includes any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions that inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender. Gender-based violence includes physical, sexual and psychological violence.
This violence may include the following: domestic violence; sexual abuse, including rape and sexual abuse of children by family members; forced pregnancy; sexual slavery; traditional practices harmful to women, such as honour killings, burning or acid throwing, female genital mutilation, dowry-related violence; violence in armed conflict, such as murder and rape; and emotional abuse, such as coercion and abusive language. Trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, forced marriage, sexual harassment and intimidation at work are additional examples of violence against women. Gender violence occurs in both the ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres. Such violence not only occurs in the family and in the general community, but is sometimes also perpetuated by the state through policies or the actions of agents of the state such as the police, military or immigration authorities. Gender-based violence happens in all societies, across all social classes, with women particularly at risk from men they know. Another type of discrimination that is found to be very common in today’s work environments is gender, or sex-based, discrimination.
According to the Equal Rights Advocates (2011), sex-based discrimination is what exists when an individual is treated differently because of their sex, as well as when the different treatment occurring has negative effects on an individual’s employment opportunities. This gender-based discrimination, like age-based discrimination, is extremely illegal. The federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination in the workplace is also found in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As stated in the article by the Equal Rights Advocates (2011), “Title VII applies to private employers, state and local government employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and joint employer-union apprenticeship programs with 15 or more employees.” Gender discrimination is illegal; it is also a terrible experience for an individual to deal with or go through. While it is hard to completely end gender-based discrimination, as people are always going to have their opinions and their set ways in how they feel about the opposite sex, it is important for individuals to have a plan or a remedy for dealing with such discrimination. One form of gender violence is inflicted against men, who, in the eyes of the society, failed to conform to their expected roles (usually masculine ones) in the society.
This refers to engagement of men to same-sex relationships. Same sex-relationship is widespread in many cultures, each with different treatment of these relationships, yet mostly, it is inevitable that “gays” can free themselves from discrimination and violence either inside or outside the society where they belong. Among indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to European colonization, a common form of same-sex sexuality revolves around the figure of the Two-Spirit individual. Typically this individual was recognized early in life, given a choice by the parents to follow the path and, if the child accepted the role, raised in the appropriate manner, learning the customs of the gender it had chosen. Two-Spirit individuals were commonly shamans and were revered as having powers beyond those of ordinary shamans. Their sexual life was with the ordinary tribe members of the same sex. Among some Middle Eastern Muslim cultures, egalitarian or age-structured homosexual practices were widespread and thinly veiled.
The prevailing pattern of same-sex relationships in the temperate and sub-tropical zone stretching from Northern India to the Western Sahara is one in which the relationships were, and are, either gender-structured or age-structured or both. In recent years, egalitarian relationships modelled on the western pattern have become more frequent, though they remain rare. Same-sex intercourse officially carries the death penalty in several Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen. With respect to this prevailing issue on violence against men engaging in same-sex relationships, this paper aims to determine the root causes of the violence against gays in Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Also, the way society in both countries perceives gays and how their individual government respond to gay-related violence will be delved into. Moreover, this paper also aims to determine whether or not religion affects how the government respond to the said violence. II. MEXICO and SAUDI ARABIA COMPARED
Mexico, officially the United Mexican State, is a federal constitutional republic in North America. The United Mexican States is a federation whose government is representative, democratic and republican based on a presidential system according to the 1917 Constitution. The constitution establishes three levels of government: the federal Union, the state governments and the municipal governments. According to the constitution, all constituent states of the federation must have a republican form of government composed of three branches: the executive, represented by a governor and an appointed cabinet, the legislative branch constituted by a unicameral congress and the judiciary which include Supreme Court of Justice. They also have their own civil and judicial codes. As regards to social culture, Mexico recognizes the differences in family values. Family is the basic social structure in both Mexican and Spanish Culture, however an emphasis in university education in Spain has resulted in different customs; smaller family sizes, fewer family members sharing a household and fewer families run businesses than in Mexico. An old traditional Spanish custom that was transferred to Mexico is being aware of machismo, or male dominance. Modernization and the effects of the feminist movement have drastically lowered the affects of machismo in Spain, but male dominance is still evident in Mexico. Religious Customs and homosexuality in Mexico
Roman Catholicism was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards; however, the strong influence of indigenous spirituality has mixed with Christianity throughout the country. Generally, religious icons, such as the Virgin of Guadalupe will include references to Pachamama, or ‘Mother Earth,’ who is an important icon to Mexico’s indigenous culture; while Spain has remained a predominantly traditionally Catholic nation. Most Mexicans are Roman Catholic, and the church teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Also, violence against gays is considered more acceptable in a culture rooted in machismo which is a hyper-masculine ideal. Invisibility of homosexual acts
Because homosexuality is viewed as a mortal sin, it appears that gays in Mexicans have adopted to such a situation. For instance, according to Andrew A. Reding, ideas of homosexuals remain for the most part invisible, for two reasons. The first one, which helps explain why there are no residential gay districts in Mexico, is that Mexicans tend to reside with their families far longer than their counterparts in the U.S. This is in part for economic reasons. Low incomes and scarce housing keep many living with their parents. So does the fact that in the absence of a government social welfare system, the family is the primary bulwark of social security. Even wealthy Mexican homosexuals often continue to live at home, acquiring a separate lodging as a meeting place for their sexual partners. Second, the major reason gay men and lesbians remain invisible is the strong social stigma attached to homosexuality, particularly when it comes into conflict with the highly-accentuated and differentiated sex roles prescribed by machismo. But machismo is as much about power relationships among men as it is about establishing the dominance of men over women. The hypermasculine orientation
Machismo has important implications for how most Mexicans view homosexuality. Homophobia is far more intensely directed against those who violate norms of male and female conduct. That is especially pronounced among men, where effeminate behaviour elicits far greater levels of social disapproval than does homosexuality per se. In the machista perspective, a man’s greatest offense against the norm is to not act like a man. Effeminacy and cross-dressing are serious violations of the masculine ideal. But the greatest transgression is for a man to assume the sexual role of a woman in intercourse. The man who penetrates another man remains masculine. The man who is penetrated loses his masculinity, and incurs by far the greater social stigma. The focus on masculinity has serious consequences. It means that most Mexican gay or bisexual males, regardless of the sexual roles they assume in private, are at pains to project a manly image in public. The relative few who are unable to do so are therefore highly exposed and subject to ridicule and harassment, to say nothing of discrimination in employment.
Because the vast majority of the homosexual population remains hidden from view, homosexuality becomes identified in the minds of many with prostitution, disease, and cross-dressing. That reinforces a vicious cycle, as prejudice keeps homosexuality underground, and the few surface manifestations of homosexuality reinforce prejudice. It also means that transvestites are subject to hatred, harassment, and police abuse. Police abuse stems not only from popular prejudice, but from the fact that street prostitution is illegal in certain jurisdictions such as Mexico City. Mexican police, whose wages tend to be very low, are notorious for corruption, extorting money from citizens. The notion of transgender, understood in terms that go beyond the demeanor-based identities of transvestites (vestidas or travestis), is of recent arrival in Mexico. In the gender-based classificatory system in Mexico, masculine women typically have been assumed to reject men, or to want to be like them. This notion is captured in derogatory labels such as machorra and marimacha. Other derogatory terms such as chancla or chanclera and tortillera denote perception that “real” sex cannot happen in the absence of a penis.
Because machismo is by definition male-oriented, and is premised on male dominance in relations between the sexes, lesbian relationships are generally perceived as far less threatening to society. That is, to the extent that they are perceived at all, because to a great degree they remain invisible in a cultural context that gives little recognition to female sexuality in the first place. That helps explain the view often expressed among Mexican men that lesbians are just women who have not experienced “real” sex with a “real” man. In that sense, lesbians suffer much the same treatment as other women in a society that so exalts the masculine over the feminine. Homophobia is widespread in Mexican society. Statisticians show that between 2002 and 2007 alone, 1000 persons have been murdered in homophobic crimes, as the Chamber of Deputies revealed in May 2007, making Mexico the county with the second-highest rate of homophobic crimes in the world, after Brazil.
In a journalistic study by Fernando del Collado, titled Homofobia, odio, crimen y justicia, which means Homophobia, hate, crime and justice, there were discussed 400 dead between 1995 and 2005, that is to say, some 3 murders a month, but the City Commission Against Homophobic Hate Crimes calculates that only one in four crimes is reported. From January to August 2009, 40 gay people were murdered in Michoacán alone, nearly all of them in the Tierra Caliente area. The great majority are against gay men; from 1995 to 2004, “only” 16 women had been murdered. The crimes are often ignored or investigated with little interest by the police forces, who give impunity to the criminal in 98% of cases. Other forms of less serious violence are classified into the following types, according to a 2007 study by the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) Xochimilco campus: verbal attack in 32% of cases, sexual harassment in 18%, harassment in 12%, following or pursuit in 12%, and threats in 11%. According to the UAM study, the most frequent types of discrimination “were not hiring for a job, 13 percent; threats of extortion and detention by police, 11 percent; and abuse of employees, 10 percent”. Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church has the stance of reinforcing attitudes toward homosexuality in Mexican culture. Mexico City’s Cardinal Norberto Rivera denounces “euphemisms” that contribute to “moral disorientation”. “The arguments expressed by those who sympathize with this current that favours sexual libertinism, often appear under humanist banners, although at root they manifest materialist ideologies that deny the transcendent nature of the human person, as well as the supernatural vocation of the individual.” The complementary union of man and woman, he says, is the only relationship capable of generating “true conjugal love.” Anti-gay rhetoric is still acceptable in parts of the country where the influence of the Catholic Church is strongest. The new Catholic Catechism describes homosexual acts as a “grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered.” It states that lesbian and gay relationships are “contrary to natural law… they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarities. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” Recognizing that “the number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible”, it specifies that “they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity”, avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination.” Yet it mandates that “homosexual persons are called to chastity.” Advocacy for LGBT rights
LGBT or the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights in Mexico have expanded in recent years, in keeping with worldwide legal trends. The intellectual influence of the French Revolution and the brief French occupation of Mexico (1862–67) resulted in the adoption of the Napoleonic Code, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1871. However, laws against public immorality or indecency could be used to prosecute homosexual acts. The age of consent, at which there are no restrictions for consensual sexual activities, regardless of sexual orientation, is 18. Mexican states have a “primary” age of consent, which may be as low as 12, sexual conduct with persons below that age is always illegal.
Sexual relations between adults and teenagers are a legal gray area, with situational laws which are subject to interpretation. As the influence of foreign and domestic cultures, especially from more cosmopolitan areas like Mexico City, grows throughout Mexico, attitudes are beginning to change most-markedly in the largest metropolitan areas such as Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tijuana, this is where education and access to foreigners and foreign news media are greatest. Change continues to be slow in the hinterlands, however, and even in large cities discomfort with change often leads to backlashes. Tolerance of sexual diversity in certain indigenous cultures is widely seen, especially among Isthmus Zapotecs and Yucatán Mayas. Since the early 1970s, influenced by the U.S. gay liberation movement and the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, a substantial number of LGBT organizations has emerged; visible and well-attended LGBT marches and pride parades have occurred in Mexico City since 1979 and in Guadalajara since 1996. Legal Stance of LGBT advocacy
Political and legal gains have been made through the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), other leftist minor parties such as the Labor Party (PT) and Convergence and the centrist, long-governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). They include the 2001 amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientaten, under the vague term preferences, the 2003 federal anti-discrimination law, recognition of same-sex civil unions in Mexico City and the state of Coahuila, and same-sex marriage in Mexico City and Quintana Roo. Adoption rights have been extended to same-sex couples in Mexico City and Coahuila.
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East, consuming an area of approximately 830 thousand square miles. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordon, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman and Bahrain. The Red Sea lies to the west and the Persian Gulf lies to the northeast of Saudi Arabia. The geography of the country varies from the humid western coastal region to sandy lowlands in the east. In the southwestern region there are mountains as high as 10 thousand feet and having a climate that promotes the growth of a large variety of plant life. The “Empty Boarder” desert in the south contains very little life. The capital is Riyadh and is also the largest city. The official language of the country is Arabic.
The government is an Islamic absolute monarchy, ruled by the son and grandsons of the first king, Abd Al Aziz Al Saud. Saudi Arabia has a population of roughly 28 million with 9 million being foreign nationals. The estimated gross domestic product is approximately 438 billion with forty five percent coming from its vast petroleum reserves. (al-Rasheed) Culture in its basic form can be defined as a system of values and norms that are collectively shared between individual groups of people. The shared ideas form a basis for the way a particular group lives. Culture within a particular group or as is the case for Saudi Arabia, an entire country, can have an enormous impact on the way business is conducted. Culture influences managerial styles and management decisions. Culture affects the nature of how negotiations are made. Condemnation of homosexual acts
Homosexuality is frequently a taboo or a forbidden subject in Saudi Arabian society and is punished with imprisonment, corporal punishment and capital punishment. Transgenderism is generally associated with homosexuality. Saudi Arabia instils a similar form of punishment for homosexuality and cross dressing. The two have long been deemed as immoral acts by the Saudi judicial board, who advised Muslim judges in 1928 to treat “Liwat” (or sodomy, and in this case gay sex) the same way as fornication (premarital sex). If caught engaging in extramarital sexual activity while being married, one must be stoned to death, which means that if most American celebrities lived in that Saudi government, they would have been stoned (and not the kind of stoned they are right now). If someone is not married and is caught in extramarital affairs, one must be whipped and banished for a year. That’s right, they still “banish” people for small offense like that somewhere in the world. Interestingly enough, the law is not always obeyed by those behind it.
Take Saudi Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud who killed his servant Bandar Abdulaziz in London. Though the prince has denied being gay, several pieces of evidence that surfaced later prove otherwise. A barman at the Sanderson Hotel in which Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud was staying claims the prince hit on him, suggesting they go on a date. Two male escorts also visited the prince’s suite and police has proof that he had visited gay escort websites. Lastly, the violence set upon his servant was not only physical but found to be sexual as well. In the end, Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud got a taste of his own country’s medicine and was sentenced to a long prison term, which goes to show exactly how stringent the law is against homosexuality in Saudi Arabia that even the prince himself is subject to its rule. Severe punishment awaits homosexual acts in Saudi Arabia. Aside from having homosexual acts as illegal, it is also punishable by execution. For instance, in 2002, three men were beheaded in Saudi Arabia because of homosexual acts. Also, gays in the country gather through the so called “gay parties.” There were raids conducted by authorities in these parties. Whipping and imprisonment are the penalties inflicted upon these gays for behaving like women. Legal Stance of Advocacy for LGBT rights
Saudi Arabia has no laws against discrimination or hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Advocacy for LGBT rights is illegal within the kingdom and only the underground Green Party of Saudi Arabia has publicly supported LGBT-rights as part of its human rights platform. The required exit and entry visa paperwork does not ask people about their sexual orientation, as it does their nationality, sex, religion and marital status. No same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union has any legal standing in the nation and may be used as evidence to initiate criminal proceedings.
It is apparent that both the religion of Mexico and Saudi Arabia, Roman Catholicism and Islam respectively, strengthened the condemnation of the society against homosexuality. As aforementioned, most Mexicans are Roman Catholic (even though some still adhere to indigenous spirituality); and homosexuality is deemed a mortal sin by the Church. As mentioned also, the new Catholic Church describes homosexual acts as a “grave depravity” or “intrinsically disordered.” Also, the hyper masculine society of Mexico makes violence against gays more prevalent. As regards to the legal stance of homosexuality, it is said that the adoption of Napoleonic Code in Mexico led to the decriminalization of homosexual acts. However, the laws against public immorality or indecency are used to prosecute homosexual acts. In terms of political discourse, the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), other leftist minor parties such as the Labor Party (PT) and Convergence and the centrist, long-governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have been playing large role in giving support against the discrimination of the homosexuals.
For instance, there is the 2001 amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, under the vague term preferences, the 2003 federal anti-discrimination law, recognition of same-sex civil unions in Mexico City and the state of Coahuila, and same-sex marriage in Mexico City and Quintana Roo. Moreover, adoption rights have been extended to same-sex couples in Mexico City and Coahuila. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is also condemned. For instance, the Muslim judges treat gay sex with the same gravity as premarital sex. Punishments were so grave such as being stoned to death when caught engaging into extaramarital sexual activity or being whipped and banished for a year when one who is not married was caught in extramarital affairs. Thus, because homosexual acts are deemed as immoral as homosexual acts, gays suffer the same punishments as aforementioned. As such, three men were beheaded in 2002 because of committing homosexual acts. Unlike Mexico, wherein there is (at least) moves to counter discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, there is no such law against discrimination and hate crimes in Saudi Arabia. As mentioned, advocacy for LGBT rights is deemed illegal. Thus, groups which support LGBT-rights works underground such as the Green Party of Saudi Arabia. Same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union has no legal standing in Saudi Arabia.