Iris Aguirre, a state legislator in Mexico’s Zacatecas state, drew criticism on October 30 when she gave bundles of chicken wire to an indigenous community near Valparaiso. While Aguirre described the gift as an attempt to keep sexual criminals out of the community, her opponents have criticized her for making light of Mexico’s sexual abuse epidemic.
Aguirre posted an image of herself with the bundles of chicken wire on Facebook. “In support of our Tepehuan brothers and sisters we have granted them mesh to surround their houses and prevent the outsiders from entering and raping their young girls,” said the post.
Many commenters called Aguirre’s response insensitive given the scale and gravity of Mexico’s growing sexual abuse epidemic. “They’re proposing locking them up in a cage instead of applying the law and combatting the people that are doing this evil? It’s an upside-down world,” read one tweet.
The United Nations report estimates that up to 44 percent of Mexican women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes. Mexico’s government, however, has been slow to address the problem, as evidenced by a 2012 Amnesty International report that criticized Mexican authorities for their inaction. Along with sexual violence, levels of femicide have risen in the country, which the government has addressed through female-only subway cars and taxis.
Aguirre has spoken-out in defense of her actions. “For me it is important to allocate these economic resources … which contribute to security conditions in Tepehuán communities, especially those that affect girls, adolescents, and women.”
Aguirre has faced controversy before. She first stirred outrage when she openly supported President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Mexican immigrants during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “They are making extreme decisions because Mexicans are sadly involved in very shameful things,” she said to the state legislature. “As the national representative of his country, [Trump] is going to have to impose very drastic restrictions. He’s doing it for the good of his people. We have to do it here, too,” she later added.