Mexican lawmakers toughen penalties for femicide, abuse of minors after murders

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s lower house of congress on Tuesday approved an increase in prison sentences for crimes of femicide and sexual abuse of minors, amid a wave of protests after the murder of a seven-year-old girl in Mexico City.

Lawmakers voted to increase the sentence for femicide to 45 to 65 years in prison, up from a range of 40 to 60 years. They also sought to toughen penalties for sexual abuse of minors to 10 to 18 years, up from six to 13 years.

The proposals will be sent to the Senate.

The body of the girl, Fatima Cecilia Aldrighett, was discovered over the weekend, days after the murder of a young woman triggered protests.

The cases have tested the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was criticized by Aldrighett’s relatives for attributing gender violence to the “neoliberalism” of his predecessors.

On Tuesday, Mexico City police searched the house of a woman who was seen accompanying the girl as she left her school last week, according to the El Universal newspaper.

Days before authorities disclosed the discovery of the girl’s body, women took to the National Palace to demand justice for the murder of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, daubing the words “femicide state” in blood red on the door.

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