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The Making and Unmaking of Feminicidio/Femicidio Laws in Mexico and Nicaragua

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024


This article examines the contested process of law-making related to the killing of women which resulted in the criminalization of feminicide (feminicidio) and femicide (femicidio) in Mexico and Nicaragua, two countries in which feminists engaged in legal activism to increase state accountability for gendered violence. Through comparative analysis, we demonstrate the importance of (1) the interaction between shifting local political conditions and supranational opportunities and (2) the position of feminist actors vis-à-vis the state and its gender regime in shaping regional variation in the making of laws concerning gendered violence. In Mexico, the criminalization of feminicidio resulted from a successful naming and shaming campaign by local feminist actors linked to litigation in various supranational arenas, and the intervention of feminist federal legislators. In Nicaragua, the codification of femicidio resulted from the state's selective responsiveness to feminist demands in a moment of narrow political opportunity within an otherwise highly consolidated regime. We also examine the unmaking of these laws through their perversion in practice (Mexico) and their intentional undermining (Nicaragua) at the hands of the state. Our analysis demonstrates how states' decisions to enact legislation against gendered violence does not occur solely because they are invested in international legitimacy, but also in response to states' shifting acceptance of the legitimacy of supranational authority itself.

© 2018 Law and Society Association.

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P.G.D.M. and P.N. have equally contributed to this work.



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