President Felipe Calderon has signed legislation that imposes prison terms of up to 60 years on those convicted of people trafficking, feminicide and a variety of other crimes targeting women and children.
"These reforms will allow us to more efficiently fight crimes against women and abuses of minors," the president said during the signing ceremony on Wednesday.
"The victims are our reason for being and with this law they will be better protected," Calderon told an audience at the presidential residence that included lawmakers, officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne.
The law incorporates the crime of feminicide in the Federal Criminal Code and punishes it with prison terms of 40 to 60 years, with the crime being defined as the killing of a woman because of her gender, the president said.
The General Law to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Crimes Related to People Trafficking also punishes those convicted of the sexual abuse or exploitation of women or children with prison terms of 40 years, Calderon said.
The law increases prison terms up to 60 years in cases where the individual, such as a parent or teacher, was responsible for a minor and handed the child over to someone involved in sexual exploitation or other abuse.
At least 47 criminal organizations are involved in people trafficking for sexual exploitation in Mexico, victimizing some 800,000 adults and 20,000 children annually, a recent congressional report said.
People traffickers operate in the states of Veracruz, Chiapas, Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Quintana Roo, as well as in Central America, the report said.
People trafficking generates soem 372 billion pesos (nearly $26.57 billion) annually in Mexico, non-governmental organizations say. EFE