Josselyne Bejar has been a Penal Judge in MĢ©xico since 1997 and is the Secretary of the Mexican Association of Women Judges. She holds a Masters degree in Penal Law from Universidad de Guadalajara, a degree in Public Law from the Universidad Panamericana as well as a law degree from the Univesidad de San Pablo- Ceu and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
Josselyne has been involved in a number of important projects: she was a member of the national group on constitutional reform in 2008 and worked with the Commission for the implementation of criminal reform in the State of Jalisco. In 2007, she received an award from the legislature for her efforts towards the eradication of violence against women. Josselyne has substantial experience as a speaker and trainer; she has trained professors, judges, magistrates and litigators on judicial reform and has spoken in New York, Washington D.C., El Salvador and Mexico on gender-based violence and women’s rights. Josselyne participated as a faculty member in our most recent Justice Institute to combat gender-based violence in Guadalajara, Mexico.
What is one way that gender-based violence is affecting your community?
JB: In our community, the lack of education and opportunity are the main factors that put women at risk of gender-based violence. Here, physical, psychological, sexual and even economic violence are the most common forms of violence. Unfortunately, femicide is also a constant problem. It is necessary that the state takes measures to prevent these killings from happening and help eradicate the forms of violence we know exist.
How is your solution to ending GBV unique?
JB: The State must take responsibility for its role in eliminating gender-based violence, but we need the support of civil society to make sure that our solution is effective. Police, prosecutors, and judges need to ensure that victims of gender-based violence have access to the justice system. We need to make sure that the criminal investigations are conducted efficiently and that all victims have access to holistic care.
Why are you working on this issue? What made you get involved?
JB: As a woman judge in a position of power in my community, the least I can do is work to defend the rights of underprivileged women. I know female victims of violence and their children; I understand the limitations of the legislation, and I am aware of the system’s inability to provide victims with adequate care and protection. I know that in all gender-based violence cases, the victims need support from the community.
Just a few days ago, I thought about what kind of judge I was and wanted to be. I was happy to realize that I am a judge who wants to work with our society to create peace and eliminate violence against women.
Can you reflect on a transformation or success you have seen?
JB: Of course, the transformation has not been as fast as I would have liked, but the progress is reflected in our community and as a judge, I have taken on cases that involve violence against women. Moreover, I am proud to say that with the conference and trainings I’ve held, as well as the articles I’ve posted, I have been able to influence deputies, police, prosecutors, experts, judges, litigations etc… to do their jobs with greater sensitivity toward the topic of violence against women and to act with the necessary professionalism that this controversial topic requires.
How are you engaging men in your community?
JB: I always refer to men as the “great allies” as they end up recognizing the importance of their participation and surprise me with excellent decisions on the issue of access to justice for women victims of violence. Their participation in these discussions has not happened as quickly as I’d like, but it’s a start.
What is your call to action to the international community?
JB: There are many things that can be done by the international community that will undoubtedly impact the public policies of various countries. New models for training and support programs, international forums for exchanging ideas and support of world leaders are all actions that will help achieve true prevention of violence against women.
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