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Resisting patriarchy within the State: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico
Sonia M. Frias
National Autonomous University of Mexico

a r t i c l e
Available online xxxx

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s y n o p s i s
In the 10 years from 1996 to 2006, all but three states in the Mexican Federation passed laws dealing specifically with family violence. These laws are more symbolic than substantive for protecting women's rights given their unbridgeable duality of objectives: one the one hand affirming the sanctity of the family, while on the other protecting family members from the threat of family violence. The patriarchal attitudes that permeate the State are reflected in the terms and objectives of family violence legislation. Although the formal aim of the legislation has been to protect women from partner violence, the subordination of its contents and implementation to the goal of preserving families has worked against protecting the victims of partner violence. This article adopts a poststructuralist feminist perspective on the State, conceptualizing it not as a unified entity, but in terms of the collaborations and conflicts of the multiple agencies, agents, and agendas which constitute it. Using Giddens' structuration theory, I examine patterns of resistance both to the patriarchal social structure and to the State that is reproducing it. Some State employeesmost of whom are womenwho work in agencies that provide direct assistance to victims of family violence and design prevention programs work around the familist agenda by reinterpreting and ignoring regulations, investing their own time and resources to protect victims of partner violence. This article explores the agency of these individuals and examines how they strategically challenge or derail the reproduction of patriarchal structures by the State, working from within it. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction In 2003, approximately 40% of Mexican women were the victims of some type of abuse by their partners (INEGI, 2004). The hogar, Spanish for hearth and home, continues to be one of the most dangerous places for Mexican women. In this article, I describe the different levels of State1 interventions into the sphere of partner violence, the conceptual constraints under which such violence is institutionally dened and targeted, and the real practices by which multiple agents within the State apparatus address or fail to address partner violence against women. In the process, I present a way of conceptualizing the contentions and tensions between the agency of State actors and the structures of governance, showing how this effects both the target population with whom the State deals and the State's own structures.
0277-5395/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

The right of a man to beat his wife was outlawed in Mexico's 1871 criminal code (Alonso, 1997) and wife beating is not considered a natural aspect of malefemale relations, nor is it treated in law as a husband's or mate's prerogative. Nevertheless, patriarchy remains pervasive in Mexico as is shown in surveys indicating that 8.5% of women in the country believe that their husbands have the right to use physical force to discipline them when they do not fulll their obligations. Similarly, 11% believe that a wife has an obligation to have sex with her husband, even against her will. Although violence against women is rejected both in the private and public spheres and aggressors are stigmatized (Agoff, Rajsbaum, & Herrera, 2006), it persists at high rates in Mexico. In the course of 10 years, from 1996 to 2006, all but three states in the Mexican Federation passed administrative laws dealing with family violence. These laws are more

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

S.M. Frias / Women's Studies International Forum xxx (2010) xxxxxx

symbolic than substantive for protecting women's rights, given their dual objectives: on the one hand promoting the unity and sanctity of the family, while on the other defending and protecting family members from the threat of family violence. The contents and the duality of the family violence legislation reect the patriarchal attitudes permeating the State. The embeddedness of patriarchy within the structure of the State legitimizes and institutionalizes gender inequality, contributing in effect to the revictimization of women. However, in State agencies that provide direct assistance to victims of family violence (family violence assistance agencies, or FVAA) and design prevention programs, some individuals mostly womenreinterpret or ignore those provisions of family violence laws that contribute to the revictimization of female victims of partner violence. They use their own time and resources for protecting victims of partner violence from further violence, whether exerted by their partner or the State. These individuals' actions place the long lasting debate about agency versus structure in regard to family violence in a new perspective. Taking a middle ground in structuration theory (Butler, 1993; Foucault, 1980; Giddens, 1984), this research demonstrates that structures and the institutions reproducing them both shape individual's actions and provide the parameters against which the individual's agency denes itself. Adopting a post-structuralist feminist perspective of the State, this article conceptualizes the State as irreducibly plurala contested eld in which actors do not necessarily abide by the agreed-upon institutional rules. I conceptualize agency as some departure from institutionalized rules, or acts of resistance to organizational norms and social structures. On the basis of this framework, I rst analyze how the Mexican State reproduces and perpetuates patriarchy both directly and indirectly through legislation (structure); and second, how individuals working within the ranks of the State can resist both patriarchal social structure and the State (agency). After reviewing the theoretical usefulness of using Giddens' structuration theory to analyze patriarchy and the State, I examine the response of the Mexican State and states to the phenomenon of violence perpetrated against women by a male partner. By analyzing how the law is interpreted and implemented, I show that the State both reproduces and enhances the patriarchal social structure. I argue that the State's attempts to challenge the patriarchal social structure indirectly maintain the status-quo. Yet within the structure of the Statemostly in agencies that do family violence work2actors resist the law and its implementation. I identify those actors and distinguish ve resistance strategies, illustrated with testimonies of the individuals who carried them out. I examine how individuals display their agency, consciously or unconsciously challenging patriarchy and the State. In the long run, these micro acts of resistance may bring about changes in the social structure. Structuration theory, patriarchy and the State: theoretical connections As a social system, patriarchy is constituted by a set of social relations which offer a material basis to generate solidarity among men and enable them to control women (Hartmann, 1976). Patriarchy is embedded in social relations and manifested in the normalization and acceptance of gender inequality in several spheres of social life. Structuration theory

explains how the patriarchal system is produced and reproduced, maintained and challenged by individuals and the State in Mexico. Giddens (1984) suggests that the social structure, which consists of traditions, institutions, moral codes, and established ways of doing things, exists as a result of the mutually reinforcing actions of structures and individual agency. It is through the continuous repetition of individual routines that structure is reproduced (Giddens, 1984). Social structures are dynamic rather than static: they can be changed when individuals act differently, either because previous acts are ignored, replaced or reproduced differently. Giddens claims that structure and agency cannot be conceived apart from one another. Structures are linked to individuals, since the latter create the former through their repetitive relations and behaviors. However, structures do not completely determine individuals' behavior; instead, they constitute a repertoire of rules and resources upon which actors draw. Within the patriarchal system, domestic violence has been normalized through repetition. Actions by actors and institutions that de-legitimize partner abuse are likely to decrease its occurrence. Through the establishment of new non-patriarchal practices, social structures could also change. The role of the State, here, derives from its situation as a key mediator between social structures and individuals. In perhaps one of his most inuential denitions, Weber (1965) denes the State as an organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. The State's transformative power is given to it through laws and the monopolistic use of force, which denes how it operates between social structures and individuals. In addition, the State has a dual nature, since there is both an exterior, hierarchical relationship between the State and individuals and the society while, at the same time, individuals and society exist within the State and constitute it (Charles, 2000). By adopting a post-structuralist feminist perspective of the State (Charles, 2000; Molyneux, 2000; Waylen, 1998), I consider the democratic State both as an arena in which tensions that originate in society are manifested and negotiated, and an agent for preserving or changing that same social structure. The State is an assembly of different and sometimes conicting institutions, agencies, and discourses, which are in turn inuenced by civil society and social movements in specic historical, social and political contexts (Waylen, 1998). Feminist post-structuralist theorists have taken an insight from structuralism and postulate that the State per se has no inherent position or set of interests relative to gender, so that it depends on specic historical circumstances whether the State operates to constrain and control female autonomy, or to enable it. As a consequence, the State is both an agent and an arena in which the battles for women's rights take place (see Ku, 2008; MacDowell Santos, 2004; Molyneux, 2000). This perspective emphasizes social action and individual agency (Charles, 2000). Data and methodology The data in this article use the testimonies of 89 of semistructured in-depth interviews conducted in 2005 and 2006 in Mexico with both men and women in professional positions concerned with the phenomenon of partner violence (details in Frias, 2009). This sample includes judges, state congressional representatives, members of the

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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Women's Institute, scholars, directors of domestic violence shelters, members of the state commission on human rights, police chiefs, doctors, FVAA directors, and other FVAA employees. These interviews offer insights into how domestic violence is conceptualized, the role played by the State and other institutions, and the effect of individual agency. Personal background information was collected indirectly, since the interviews were conducted using a journalistic-style format. Most of my respondents agreed to participate in the study because of their position as State employees.3 Out of the 89 informants, 12 were males, who primarily belonged to the judiciary branch or were responsible for coordinating legal assistance services in FVAA. Thirty-six percent of the 89 interviews were conducted with people working in agencies doing family violence work. These agencies belong to the executive branch of the State. As will be seen, some State employees in these institutions contravene rules and re-interpret the law in order to protect women from further victimization. Their testimonies illustrate how their agency is displayed within the context of the State. The interviews conducted with individuals working in the State's legislative branch (14), judiciary (10), scholars (4) and individual members of NGOs and engaged in the women's movement (29) make transparent the mechanisms used by the State to reproduce the patriarchal social structure. My interviews took place in ve states: Chihuahua, Federal District, Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Morelos, all of which were selected based on their diversity in characteristics associated with the role of the State in protecting women's rights. The characteristics include the state's enactment of family violence legislation, the level of structural gender equality (see Frias, 2008), and the strength of the women's movement among others. The analyses presented here cannot be generalized in every respect to all states in Mexico, as they are tied to particular patterns and processes. Response of the State to violence against women: approval of legislation The Mexican State has ofcially afrmed every woman's right to a life free of violence by signing and supporting international conventions and treaties. The signing of these treaties did not automatically translate into the passage of legislation and policies that protect women against violence. Very often, initiatives regarding violence against women in Mexico have been motivated by the State's desire for legitimacy both at the international and local levels (Frias, 2009; Lang, 2003). The modernizing wave, which ostensibly swept many Latin American countries during the 1980s and 1990s, imposed a set of neoliberal economic policies that weakened the traditional centralized State. These policies were usually accompanied by the emergence of new forms of political participation, the adoption of policies to protect minorities such as indigenous groups and women, and the inclusion of political or social groups traditionally excluded from the political process. The desire for modernization in Mexico was entangled with the desire for democracy, as the alleged electoral fraud that decided the 1988 presidential elections in favor of the hegemonic political party (PRI: Partido Revolu-

cionario Institucional) and its president, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, thrust a crisis of legitimacy upon the country. Salinas' government responded by a policy of inclusion towards civil society actors, including feminist groups (Lang, 2003). The issue of violence against women was exploited by the Mexican federal executive power to serve two purposes. The rst purpose focused on ensuring that feminists and the women's movement would feel included and represented by the State. Secondly, combating violence would make Mexico look like a modern and democratic country (Lang, 2003:74). Thus, the Mexican government would gain a higher degree of legitimacy both nationally and internationally. At the public policy level, the rst measures for protecting women against violence were unveiled after the scandal of nineteen rape cases perpetrated by several judicial police ofcials, bodyguards of the Federal District Assistant Attorney's (Gonzlez Ascencio, 1995). Outraged feminists, politicians, and civil organizations demanded immediate State action and legal reforms concerning both the classication of violence against women and the promotion of public awareness of domestic violence. The group formed in the aftermath of the rape scandal, Grupo Plural Pro-Victimas, saw their efforts rewarded when three public service agencies were created in the Federal District and began providing assistance to victims of sexual crimes and family violence.4 However, these agencies were made dependent on the Federal District General Attorney's Ofce. The Grupo Plural also lobbied for changes in family violence legislation. However, these proposals faced more resistance since partner violence is traditionally framed as a private matter (Doyal, 1990). In 1997, President Zedillo signed several initiatives introducing reforms regarding family violence in civil and criminal codes both in the Federal District and at the federal level that made marital rape a felony, granted all family members the right to a life free of violence, and made family violence grounds for divorce. At the local or state level, states possess the power to issue social assistance legislation. State legislators considered family violence a social assistance matter, rather than a civil or criminal matter. Therefore, their response occurred within the context of social assistance administration. Administrative laws regulate the actions of the executive branch, whereas the civil and criminal codes dene legal boundaries within which family relations are developed, and sanctions for violations assessed. Hence, making family violence a matter of administrative laws meant providing state agencies with specic regulations regarding family violence prevention and assistance. In 1996 the Federal District Legislative Assembly enacted the rst administrative family violence law in Mexico. Over a 10 year period from 1996 to 2006, it was followed by all but three states. The laws, although heterogeneous in their contents, had three common objectives addressing partner violence: a) to provide assistance to victims; b) to design and implement prevention programs; and c) to route domestic conict controversies, when possible, through administrative mechanisms carried out by governmental agencies rather than the criminal justice system. As will be shown, these administrative laws are more symbolic than substantive for protecting women's rights given their unbridgeable duality of implicit and explicit objectives.

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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State's unsuccessful attempts to challenge the patriarchal social structure Regardless of the motivation behind the administrative family violence laws, these laws constitute the State's clearest attempt to challenge the patriarchal social structure and protect individuals from family violence. However, the dual objectives of the law were in contradiction. Aiming to protect family members from violence and promoting the unity of families were difcult to reconcile. The latter almost always took precedence, which meant keeping the victim of violence and her assailant together. This objective is clearly conveyed in statements such as [since] the family [is] the indisputable bastion for the preservation of society, the State must establish the suitable mechanisms for its integration and preservation. Therefore, it is of vital importance to ght face to face against everything that goes against the family unit and causes its deterioration; since there is no doubt that the family is the origin of the social community (Colima's Family Violence Law). In some state laws, this contradiction is explicit in the text , while in others the contradictions arise in the implementation. The divided mandate of administrative family violence legislation undermines the challenge to the patriarchal social structure and the protection of women from family violence. Some feminist analyses view the State as an instrument of patriarchal domination. State's actions, or lack thereof, are conceived as a tool for reproducing the patriarchal system because the State is gendered and it is complicated to design and apply violence against women laws in a gender neutral way (MacKinnon, 1989; Martin, 2005). The State contribution to patriarchy and women's subordination is hidden since it maintains a false appearance of gender neutrality (Brush, 2003). The dominance of patriarchal attitudes within the structure of the State even generates, in some cases, the revictimization of women by State agencies. Although the laws are heterogeneous in their contents (see Prez Contreras & Mora-Donatto, 2006), there are at least four main intersecting reasons why it could be argued that the legislative and executive branches of the State contribute to maintaining the patriarchal social structure: (1) the conicting goals of legislation and the institutions responsible for its implementation; (2) the inadequate provisions of the law itself; (3) a lack of resources and coordination among the agencies; and (4) the inuence of patriarchy and the internal dynamics of public agencies. Conicting goals of legislation The institution primarily responsible for implementing family violence legislation is one whose main mandate is promoting the familynot threatening it by adequately addressing family violence. As administrative family violence laws fell under the social assistance category, most states assigned their implementation to the DIF: Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (Integral Development of the Family in English). This public assistance governmental institution often interprets and implements the law in ways which foster the family promotion angle of the legislation over the protecting the victim. The testimonies of both men and women working at the DIF Jalisco illustrate this claim when they

mentioned an informal letter issued by the top echelon of the DIF specically instructing ofces that deal with domestic violence cases not to provide legal advice to women seeking to initiate a divorce procedure because the DIF is an institution for the promotion of the family, not for its destruction. Provisions of the administrative family violence law The provisions of the legislation were inadequate and poorly designed. One of the most controversial aspects of the law is to route those involved in a family conict through the conciliation process (conciliacin). The process involves using a mediator to resolve disputes between the aggressor and the victim so as to avoid having to go to court. Most of the family violence laws envision conciliation as the rst response to domestic violence disputes. The overriding problem with conciliation is that it is often confounded with reconciliation. In other words, public authorities often skew the outcome of the conciliation process, which is theoretically open-ended: either the separation of the couple or the return of the woman to the shared domestic space. Instead, reconciliation is often promoted as the only viable outcome, reecting the subordination of the woman's safety to the institution of the family, as illustrated by the testimony of a female NGO human rights ofcer in Guanajuato: The problem is that the DIF, and in general, all governmental institutions in Guanajuato, do not see family violence as a serious offense. They understand family violence as a conict. That is the reason why they understand conciliation as reconciliation of the couple. Family violence is a crime, but they do not see it as such. There is not conciliation in cases of car theft. So then, why can family violence be resolved through conciliation? Often, the conciliation process tends to occur shortly after the violent episode. Putting the victim and the aggressor faceto-face and then, urging them to reach an agreement on ending the violence may well increase the woman's distress. In most states, the institution responsible for arranging and conducting conciliations is the DIF. Nevertheless, it remains an administrative institution without any enforcement power. In fact, only a few family violence laws provide a judicial route for those agencies to take in cases of noncompliance. If specic provisions are stated in the law, public agencies have the option of imposing penalties, arrests or nes. However, it is up to the woman to request a judge's order to fulll the agreement in case of breach. Not only is this process time-consuming, but it also leaves the victims of partner violence virtually unprotected. In some states, however, the judiciary power supervises the institutions carrying out conciliations, which results in the immediate enforcement of conciliation agreements. Lack of resources and poor coordination among agencies The State maintains the status-quo is by under-resourcing the FVAA and failing to adequately coordinate them. The enactment of administrative family violence laws contributed

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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to the proliferation of agencies with the goal of providing assistance to victims of partner violence. Multiple agencies at the state and municipal level can create problems of interagency coordination. Moreover, these agencies tend to be understaffed and with limited resources, which limits the amount of assistance they can provide to address victims' needs. The burden then falls to the woman, who has to fend for herself by going from state level agencies to municipal ones and so on. It even has a slang term in the FVAAs: the peloteo or peregrinaje (pilgrimage in English). Guilln, the director of the Red de Refugios (shelters' network), recounts the typical peloteo of a battered woman: Women go through a critical route. Let me tell you the case of a battered woman. This is a real situation. She arrived from Sinaloa. The police brought her to the shelter fearing for her life because her husband's connections with the narco (drug trafcking).

She arrived to the shelter in very serious condition, completely bruised, beaten and having been raped with an object. In fact, the woman was still alive because her husband's violence left her unconscious. I think that her husband thought he had killed her. She requested our help and we accompanied her to a specialized agency of the Attorney General's Ofce (Ministerio Pblico, MP) 5 in order to get a certicate of her injuries. But the specialized agency was not open on Saturdays and Sundays. Then, we went to a non-specialized MP agency. () while we waited they went out for dinner. We waited approximately for one hour and a half. They knew that the woman had been beaten. Finally, they helped us. We were told that the only thing they could do for her was to take her testimony because the doctor responsible for certifying the injuries was not there. We had to go to a hospital.

Finally, we arrived to the hospital emergency services. After waiting for more than one hour we managed to see a doctor. He said there was nothing he could do because we did not bring with us the formal request from the MP nor the specic MP form used to certify injuries. Then, we went back to the MP. We got the document and then we went back to the hospital. Back in the emergency room we were told to come back the following day. It is not surprising, then, that the peloteo may be such an ordeal that it discourages women from seeking help. Inuence of patriarchy and internal dynamics of public agencies Agencies that perform work associated with violence against women tend to routinely incorporate victim blame into their organizational frames (Martin, 2005). If an organization does not own the issue of family violence, it will often fail to train their staff properly and to establish special units, or it will make family violence victims a low priority. This is the case, for example, with the police. Indeed, I found that those police ofcers attending family violence

training in some Jalisco's municipalities were there as a result of disciplinary faults. Law-enforcement bodies, being highly masculinized and hierarchical institutions, contribute the most to women's revictimization. Corruption of the police forces is another structural problem that impinges upon the situation of victims of partner violence. Most of my interviewees mentioned that partner violence is often sexualized or reduced to a sexual matter. In fact, many MPs recommend that women resolve the situation of violence through sex. Moreover, police ofcers often prescribe sex as a possible solution to partner violence. Interviewees from NGOs and executive branch agencies doing family violence work invariably mentioned the revictimization of women at hands of MP ofcers. The following examples clearly illustrate this point: Why not do you go home and you start heating your husband's bed?; If you were raped, it is because you looked forward to it; Why don't you go home and have sex with your husband?; If you do not have a physical mark, there is nothing I can do; Madam, he only hit you a little bit, it is better that you go home and do not make him angry again; I know that you told me that your husband raped you, but I need you to bring two witnesses before pressing charges; and Madam, how come it is possible that you claim you were raped, and you are not even crying?. I only managed to interview three informants occupying medium-high positions at the State's Attorney's General Ofce and thus having hierarchical power over MP Ofcersin Guanajuato, Morelos, and Jalisco. Two of these informants, females, had an endless list of comments similar to those just mentioned that they heard from MPs subordinated to them. The male in the same position, however, only made a short comment when I questioned him. The patriarchal system is often perpetuated by the actions of the women victims themselves, who often seek the help of FVAA, the police, or the judiciary system to teach their husbands a lesson. They are seeking the authority of the government to, as one informant told me, pull on their husbands' ears (dar un tiron de orejas). However, women routinely drop the charges when they learn of the potential consequences for her partner (nes or jail), or request that the relevant ofcialspolice ofcers, attorneys and judges dismiss the case. The State, through its FVAA, provides scarce social assistance resources to female victims, as, for instance, economic resources and shelter, thus limiting women's options to leave a violent relationship (Peter, 2006). This especially bears on low-income women, who tend to be dependent on their partner's income for their own and their children's survival. The sanctions for perpetrators of violence increase the problems of poor families in which the male is the sole breadwinner. As a result, many women seek to dismiss the charges. All of these factors, coupled with a shortage of trained personnel and unmanageable workloads, have produced a cynical and neglectful police culture relative to women who seek the assistance of law-enforcement agencies. Resisting patriarchy from the structure: employees doing family violence work A group of State employees, mostly women, who work in designing and implementing partner violence prevention and

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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assistance programs, nds ways around inadequate or patriarchally tinged legislation by reinterpreting or ignoring it in order to aid female victims of partner violence. Their actions exemplify the way agency can alter social structures. In conceiving the State as an assembly of plural institutions, agendas and individuals, post-structuralism identies both the sites of conict within the State and explains how changes might emerge and be fostered from within it. I locate those individuals who resist the patriarchal social structure and the perverse effects of family violence laws in the agencies that were created by the enactment of such laws. As predicted in the plural model, individuals working on domestic violence issues seek allies and have developed informal networks. They use work around strategies to be able to provide services to women and protect them from exposure to both further family violence and revictimization by the State. I identied ve strategies by which patriarchy and the State's norms are resisted in order to help female victims of partner violence: (1) collaboration and coordination among public agencies; (2) letters and accompaniment of women to governmental ofces; (3) threats and deadlines; (4) personal involvement of the public employee; and (5) breaking the law for protecting women from family violence and its consequences. Collaboration and coordination among public agencies Some individuals within FVAA developed informal collaborative relationships based on personal friendships with the people employed in these agencies, while other informal collaborations were facilitated by professional conferences or common events. Women seeking the assistance of governmental and nongovernmental institutions tend to be referred to agencies in which there are informal collaboration agreements. In some cases, these informal collaboration agreements have even been institutionalized. It is common among actors who are bound together informally in the cause of protecting victims of partner violence to recommend women seeking aid to agencies or even specic employees with good reputations for paying close attention to women's special needs and circumstances. A female coordinating a FVAA in Jalisco explained to me: Throughout my work I get to know many people working in the area of partner violence. Sometimes we meet each other in conferences or other events. When we talk about certain cases or procedure, we know that something is wrong. We often try to help each other. But this is not institutional; it is more like friendship or a personal favor.

process of handling the case, but also ensure that abused women receive quality service. This is something simple, and perhaps something stupid, but it works, said CEPAVI's director (Center for Family Violence Assistance and Prevention) in Jalisco. When the Morelos' Women's Institute gives a letter of reference to a woman before she goes to another governmental agency for further assistance, the latter sends an ofcial letter back to Morelos' Women Institute notifying them that the case was properly and successfully handled. Hence, both letters and the accompaniment of women to public ofces is an informal strategy for helping women on their peloteo. This is the most common resistance strategy, often used together with rst one. When this strategy is taken up by the head of the agency or by several lower-rank employees, referral letters and accompaniment of women to governmental ofces become informally institutionalized and, thus, expected procedure to be followed in that particular agency. Threats and deadlines Some sensitized individuals in law enforcement agencies have developed strategies for getting other State institutions to work in favor of abused women's interests. These include resorting to legal tricks to benet victims of partner violence. The most popular trick is playing with time. For example, when the abuser is under arrest, agencies have twenty-four hours to turn the detainee to the judge on duty. In some critical cases involving severely beaten women, female ofcials in the Attorney General Ofce of Jalisco and Guanajuato play with the time frame by closely following the schedule of the judges on duty in order to turn the detainee over to a judge who has a record favorable to victims. In other cases, high-ranking individuals in organizations have resorted to threatening individuals from other agencies or branches of the State in order to obtain protection for women. This strategy is unusual, since it works only when the resistor holds a position of power. Still, an ofcial mentioned above admitted using threats to get an apprehension order for the aggressor in cases where the life of a woman was at risk: I have personally accompanied female victims to the court, or I have called the judge in order to request the apprehension of the aggressor. I have even told the judge God grant that I send you a case of a beaten woman and that the aggressor does not kill her, because if you do not sign an arrest order and something happens to the woman, I will make sure that everybody knows about that, and I will act against you.

Letters and accompaniment of women to governmental ofces Personal involvement of the public employee As we have remarked, public prosecutor's ofces (MPs) are well known for their poor treatment of women victims. Employees from the FVAA sometimes accompany women to the MP to strategically ensure their reception of fair and correct treatment. In some instances, they provide them with referral letters (cartas de canalizacin) to hand deliver to the ofcers in the public agency to which they have been referred. These reference letters not only speed up the In some states, administrative family violence laws attribute female victims the responsibility for handing the citation to the aggressor in order for him to show up at the FVAA. Yet in many cases the aggressor does not even know that the woman sought assistance, and most women still live with the perpetrator. Hence, this rule places women in a situation of high risk. In some cases, FVAA employees have

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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developed strategies to protect women from further violence when the woman hands the notication to the alleged perpetrator, such as making sure that she moves temporarily away from her house. Other strategies rely on the goodwill of public employees willing to carry out activities beyond the scope of their job descriptions, such as giving personal notice to the aggressor themselves, as this female lawyer working in the DIF Morelos recounts: Prior to 2003 we requested the support of the police to deliver the notice. Now, the woman has the option of requesting the police to do it. If the police are unable to handle the notice after two attempts, they let us know. Afterwards, it is women's responsibility. Sometimes I do it, or I get the woman's relative or friend to do it. Normally, I make sure that female victims are not home during this period. In some cases they are there, and that is very dangerous for the woman. If the conciliation agreement is breached, another strategy is to seek judicial ratication of the agreement. In those states where the conciliation decree does not carry the same weight as a sentence, ratication of the decree is voluntary and women are responsible for initiating the procedure. Although agencies urge women to seek judicial ratication of the agreement, they tend not to do so. For that reason, some employees in FVAA seek the ratication of the agreement in front of the judge. In Jalisco, this strategy does not always work due to the reluctance of some judges. The director of legal services at the DIF Jalisco explains: In general, I seek all conciliation agreements to be ratied by the judge. Some judges agree in ratifying them but others do not want to. Those who do not ratify conciliation agreements claim that it is voluntary jurisdiction, so they can decide whether or not they do it. And we don't have the option just to go to cooperative judges. In Jalisco, when you le a demand, this is assigned randomly by a computer to a certain judge. That is the reason why it depends on the judge whether the conciliation agreement is ratied or not.

What can I do? I know that the woman barely has enough to feed herself and her children. She takes any job she can get. Many times her partner is not employed, and she has to support him and even give him money for drinking some chelas (slang for beer) with his friends. The woman does not want to leave him because she thinks that she and her children need his economic support. How am I going to impose a ne on the aggressor, if I know that she will be the one paying it I cannot put additional problems on the shoulders of a victim.

Individuals challenging patriarchy within the State Who are the individuals who resist patriarchy from within the State bureaucracies? Mostly, they belong to agencies doing family violence work, although I found some activists among high-ranking females in law-enforcement ofces. Most of the individuals who contravene laws and norms in order to protect women are also women. There are two main reasons why it is mostly women who challenge the patriarchal social structure: rstly, because peripheral State institutions and activities, such as FVAA, are less masculinized than the central ones responsible for coercion, decisionmaking, and political leadership (Franzway, Court, & Connell, 1989); and secondly, because women are more likely to have experienced gender bias and thus tend to be more aware of other women's experiences(Klein 1984; Scott 1997 cited in Martin, Reynolds, & Keith, 2002). I identied two groups of individuals who display their agency within the context of the State. The rst group is exclusively composed of women. These women embrace a feminist ideology and had previous experiences in the feminist movement, women's NGOs, or organizations working toward the eradication of violence against women and children. The second group is composed of women who express an anti-patriarchal ideology but do not label themselves feminist perhaps due to the stigmatization of the term feminism in Mexico (Chinchilla, 1991). In this second group there are also a few men with values or personal commitment with gender issues and the protection of the family members goal of legislation.

Breaking the law to protect women from family violence In some states, agencies responsible for conciliation can also impose nes and detain the aggressor for several hours due to acts of family violence or breaches of the conciliation agreement. Even though public agencies have the possibility of imposing nes, some employees decide not to do it. In those cases in which the aggressor and the victims have modest economic resources, are unemployed, or do not hold down steady jobs, agency employees face the dilemma of whether or not to impose economic sanctions on the aggressor, since imposing an economic sanction can backre on the woman, depriving her of money to sustain herself and feed her children. Only a couple of interviewees mentioned this strategy, which may be because it contravenes the law. A female social worker employed in a municipality of Morelos used these words to explain why she decided not to impose nes, a decision that it is often complex: Activists, feminists and NGO members in the ranks of the State The smaller group consists of women activists, feminists and members of the women's movement. These women tend to occupy more visible and higher-ranked positions within the structure of the State. They joined the ranks of the State through two different mechanisms: voluntary collaboration or cooptation and absorption. Since the eighties, most liberal feminists believed that collaboration with the State was the proper channel for advancing women's rights. A number of key feminists aroused controversy in feminist circles when they opted to work within the formal structures of the Mexican State to advance women's agenda (Bourque, 1989; Lamas, 1998). Some joined agencies providing services to victims of family violence and designed some of the previously mentioned resistance strategies.

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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Cooptation is the process by which the government successfully incorporates individual persons or groups into its ranks; the State co-opts oppositional groups or social movements in order to inhibit them (Borda, 1990; Craske, 1998). Absorption, by contrast, is associated with a push by the State to incorporate a given group to fulll its need for certain areas of expertise and its desire to be inclusive of diverse ideologies (Alvarez, 1998). For example, in different public agencies in Jalisco, there are members of women's NGOs who were very active in Voces Unidas, the social movement that promoted the enactment of the family violence law in Jalisco. The State invited these women to join the ght against family violence. The women express their agency by improvising strategies that circumvent the legal provisions of the State, as well as the DIF's informal rules aimed at preserving families, in order to protect abused women and provide them with advice. While working within the State, they tend to consciously use the resistance strategies previously described such as collaboration and coordination through personal connections, letters of accompaniment, and personal involvement. Women and men who hold an anti-patriarchal ideology The second group of resistors is composed of women who hold an anti-patriarchal ideology, while not necessarily embracing feminism. These women tend to be younger than those of the previous group. Some received training in gender and family violence before joining the agency, and others were trained through their job in FVAAs. We nd these women mostly in intermediate and lower positions, where they provide direct assistance to victims of partner violence, in their capacities as social workers, psychologists or legal counselors. There are also some men among the resistors. Not surprisingly, male activists are very few, given the feminization of this type of institutions. Almost all of them are lawyers heading the legal services ofce in the agency. These men tend to be rather young and very critical of the family violence legislation, a stance which led them to improvise strategies for protecting women. In my interviews, they expressed their anger and frustration about the situation faced by victims of partner violence. They developed those feelings as part of conducting their work with female victims of partner violence. They use all the resistance strategies described above, except the rst one consisting in coordination and collaboration among agencies as result of personal connections. These individuals sometimes exert their agency consciously, but more often (especially for men) unconsciously. Conclusion The Mexican State has made big promises about the protection of all family members and the family in itself. However, the actual laws and their implementation seem not only to maintain the status-quo, but to lead to the revictimization of female victims of partner violence. Both the law's contents and interpretation (by both public employees and victims) preserve and reinforce patriarchal structures,

and under the guise of serving the best interests of the family, in fact reafrm gender inequality. The Mexican State has been effective in promoting awareness about partner violence and the diversity of acts that constitute violence. The most successful of the State's initiatives was the preliminary work of instituting rules. The interventionist function of the State has a less successful record, since legislation against domestic violence is underresourced and implementation is badly designed, which suggests that the State's concern may be just a faade. The dual and conicting objects of partner violence legislation disclose the contradictory roles taken on by the State: on the one hand improving women's subordinate position both in society and in the family due to patriarchy, and on the other hand attempting to sustain this project under the umbrella of familism. The State has traditionally fostered patriarchy within the family in an attempt to model hierarchies of obedience that would be reproduced elsewhere in social life (Dobash & Dobash, 1979). In Mexico, partner violence law stands at the center of the complex interactions between patriarchal attitudes, the State's paternalism, the embeddedness of patriarchy in the State, and the strong familist tradition. These interactions create a schema in which the individual's right to protection from domestic violence is subordinated to the interests of the (dysfunctional) family. While the State has ostensibly broken these traditional patterns, a lag exists between the State's rhetoric and the behavior of its ofcers. Actors supportive of protecting victims of domestic violence within the ranks of the State thus opt for strategies of re-interpreting laws and directives, working around legal obstacles to the effective protection of women. Adopting a post-structuralist perspective on the State, this article has shown that acts of resistance take place in institutions and settings that are sometimes considered to be highly patriarchal. In addition, not all individuals or agencies act mechanically according to the expectations that dene their roles in the machinery of the State. Instead, they might nd opportunities to contravene laws and rules which they consider unfair. Their actions entail changes at the micro level (e.g. individual women), but also have the potential to inuence the larger social structure. This research has highlighted the fact that the close connection between structure and agency does not necessarily determine the latter, and that the frames (societal or institutional) which inuence individual's actions might, in given cases, be resisted or changed. The issue of agency and structure is best approached by taking into account both the micro level (individuals within each agency, and individual women) and the macro level (agencies within the State). This type of analytical strategy overcomes some of the problems highlighted by Fraser (1992), who points to the paradox that radical feminist analysis seems to either deny women's agency or to interpret it as uncritical and subject to evaporation by the power of subordination. Building on Fraser's argument, I argue that not only women, but also men, resist patriarchy and might be instrumental for advancing women's rights (see Charrad, 2001; Htun, 2003), as evidenced by those men in FVAA that resist patriarchal structures. These individuals, consciously or unconsciously making use of their agency,

Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006

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challenge the patriarchal social structure while retaining and using their positions in the institutional matrix of the State. Those individuals that consciously resist the patriarchal social structure do not hesitate in helping women and contravening laws and institutional rules. Given that FVAA are considered second-order public agencies, not to mention the lack of accountability in Mexican public administration, these individuals that protect victims of family violence from the ranks of the State do not fear that their acts of resistance will have any type of consequence. Moreover, these individuals recounted with pride how they were able to help women and do not feel any type of guilt about contravening the law. Not all women resist patriarchy; in many cases, agents within the ranks of the State display their agency in favor of patriarchy by pursuing familist goals that have a legal cover. As HondagneuSotelo (1994) argues, women both resist the patriarchal system and collaborate with it. The question of agency should remind us that the women who hold State ofces, the women who operate in women's organizations, and the women who are victims of domestic violence should not be assumed to have the same interests or speak the same language because of their gender. As Mohanty has written, the discursively consensual homogeneity of woman as a group is mistaken for the historically specic material reality of groups of women (Mohanty, 2003:53). In sum, this article has shown that, although women are affected by the pervasive inequalities of the patriarchal system, they are not inevitably destined to be victims of that system. Men and women can resist patriarchy and use their agency, even within the ranks of the State. Small-scale acts of resistance carried out in the bowels of the State may, over time, alter the social structure. If the social structure is reproduced by routinizing the practices of individuals, it is on the plane of that practice that structures can be changed. Individuals may subvert routines by ignoring, replacing, or reproducing precedents in a different way, as we have seen with the acts of resistance of individuals working within the structure of the State.

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End Note
1 I use State with a capital S to differentiate it from the 32 regional states that compose the Mexican Federation. 2 In Rape Work: Victims, Gender and Emotions in Organization and Community Context, Patricia Yancey Martin (2005:20) argues that some agencies do rape work,meaning that these agencies own the issue of family violence, because instead of avoiding the issue, they make violence against women a focal concern. I use the expression agencies that do family violence work in the same sense that Martin referred to organizations or agencies doing rape work. 3 This research was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Texas at Austin (Protocol # 2005-04-0030), and nanced by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 4 The Specialized Agency in Sexual Crimes (AEDS: Agencia Especializada en Delitos Sexuales) was created in 1989; the Center of Integral Services for Family Violence Victims (CAVI; Centro de Atencin Integral a la Vctima de Violencia Intrafamiliar) in 1990; and the Center for Support Therapy (CTA: Centro de Terapia de Apoyo) in 1991. 5 The State's Attorney's General Ofce (Procuradura General de Justicia del Estado) is part of the executive power. It is composed by the Public Prosecutor's Ofce (Ministerio Publico) and its auxiliary institutions: judiciary police, bureau of investigation and consulting expert services. The Public Prosecutor's Ofce, assisted by the Judicial Police (who are not a branch of the Judiciary) investigates and prosecutes crime. The ofcials of the Public Prosecutor's Ofce are known as agentes del Ministerio Pblico or Ministerio Pblico, MP.

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Please cite this article as: Frias, S.M., Resisting patriarchy within the state: Advocacy and family violence in Mexico, Women's Studies International Forum (2010), doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.09.006