In a police station in Mexico City, women train with riot gear in preparation for an International Women’s Day march in one of the countries hardest hit by gender-based violence.
The squad of 500 officers is tasked with ensuring the demonstrations that draw thousands of women do not block roads or damage public property.
Although their work usually involves tense confrontations with fellow women, they feel united with the feminist cause because they too suffer violence and abuse by men.
But they question some of the protesters’ methods.
The demonstrators “hit me because they see the uniform and because of history. You see a police uniform and (think of) repression, corruption, impunity,” said Itzania Otero, 35, who commands the unit preparing to police Tuesday’s march.
She favors empathy to show the protesters “that this uniform is not what they think,” and that her officers only seek to contain — not repress — them.
“We policewomen have also suffered a thousand things,” she said.
In recent years, protests against gender-based violence have brought together thousands of women in the capital and other Mexican cities.
Mexico registered 1,006 femicides last year, marking an increase from 978 in 2020, according to government figures.
Recent victims include Michelle Perez Tadeo, a 29-year-old television host and model whose body was found last month in a wooded area on the outskirts of the capital.
Source: El Universal