By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
The change in Tepehua is not always gradual. In 2021 alone the roads have been repaired, not one at a time but several, creating confusing navigation through the broken streets. Electric poles have been changed and Telmex is available in most areas. Reception not always good in the mountain range, but the standard of communication is definitely catching up to the rest of the world.
On the South Side massive homes and condominiums are being built. Sewer lines have been laid following the other Government-run utilities like water and electricity and could even be made available to the masses...if not for cost.
One of the changes has been the release of the grip the Churches held on the people, especially women who now have certain choices if they decide to exercise them. Although femicide and abuse is still viewed as a family affair, in some cases steps are taken to apprehend the offender. There was a time, according to the Church, a man had a right to chastise an erring wife and he was less of a man if he didn’t. His manhood was judged by how many children he sired, not by the way he treated his family. Women have the right of choice now as to how many children they will have. Some priests encourage women to take control, some still call it an abomination and an affront to God. Laws are in place for women but, unfortunately, seldom enforced. Jalisco has among the highest rates for femicide and abuse where 7 out of 10 women experience domestic abuse by husband or partner despite Mexico being a member of a world-wide agreement to stop offenses against women. The abuse rose drastically at the beginning of 2020 with the isolation of Covid. The Independent News states “The appalling increase in the number of murdered and abused women in Mexico since the start of 2020 should be seized on as a water shed moment in which Government steps up to address the root causes of harm against women” unquote.
The root causes for violence are too many to list. It has no socioeconomic borders. One would think poverty incites abuse out of the sheer struggle to survive, but it really isn’t the case.
Femicide continues to rise world wide, usually very brutal crimes and 93 percent are not reported or investigated.
Very few women come forward in abusive situations and very few can leave...where will they go? The Tepehua Community Center has private counseling by appointment only. Total discretion for help with birth control for all over 18, and we have a gynecologist at the medical center every Wednesday. DIF has an emergency program for all women in abusive situations who need a ‘safe house’, which is in Guadalajara. The rules are the women can take nothing with them not even an overnight bag. They have to be prepared to leave everything behind, including their children. This is another reason a woman seldom leaves. How can she leave her babies in a dangerous environment if she has no extended family to leave them with? A brutal decision that can become an ‘until death do us part’ situation.
Because laws to protect women are new in Mexico, the safe houses are few. It is another thing that has to be planned and put on the bucket list. If only unused houses could be donated for this cause, the program could be run by the women themselves. It would solve a huge humanitarian problem.
Let’s hope the winds of change are still blowing and the cries of those senselessly murdered will be heard. It is time. One of Mexico’s greatest strengths are its women. This is not a feminist ‘put down’ of men. We all have a part to play and when you oppress one part of the chain, you lose the strength of the whole.
Meanwhile...change is coming.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com