Millions of Mexicans and women’s rights activists are raging at President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for his startling stance against domestic violence. Obrador recently claimed that the emergency domestic violence calls were largely “fake.” 

Downplaying the severity of the situation that logged in 11 femicides a day in Mexico in April, the President’s dismissal of a rather distressing issue touched a raw nerve, as Obrador’s government sounded an alarm. Hotlines reported an overwhelming rise in the complaints -- 26,000 reports of violence against women, ever since the emergency call centers were up and running.

“Ninety percent of those calls that you’re referring to are fake,” said Obrador, at a recent news conference, upon being prodded about the surge in the emergency calls for help by battered women. “The same thing happens with the calls the metro gets about sabotage or bombs,” added the Left-wing populist.

The insensitive comments shed light on two elements -- Obrador’s visible distrust in his own cabinet’s announcements and a stark contradiction between his actions and the promises he made in terms of transforming Mexico into a more equal society while taking office.

While the President seemingly did his bit, Obrador appointed the first cabinet and made a leeway for gender parity by giving prominent feminists top posts. He has time and again, thumbed his nose at the gnawing rise in the numbers of femicides and heinous crimes against women. 

What’s even worrisome to note is the president’s staunch resistance against accepting the scene for what it is. Despite the UN urging countries to step up the safety measures of domestic abuse victims as the pandemic has put the lives of scores of lives in absolute jeopardy, Obrador continues to place faith in his belief about things being far from dangerous for battered wives as Mexicans are “accustomed to living together.”

Obrador’s government released a publicity campaign that persuades potential abusers to calm down. The campaign urges men to “not lose patience” and “breathe and count to 10.” The campaign drew the flak of activists who believed the message could do little to protect wives and children living with their abusers. Many contended that the campaign also made an implicit reveal about how women had a part to play in acts of violence against themselves.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Image Reuters