Imagine a place where women are not allowed the vote, nor considered citizens. Actually, there's no need to imagine, because such a scenario is an actual reality in indigenous areas like Santa Maria Quiegolani, located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. 27-year-old Eufrosina Cruz (left) tried running for mayor of Santa Maria Quiegolani, only to have the ballots cast in her name torn up by the town elders because of her non-citizen status. Get this: A quarter of women in similar settlements are denied the right to vote, even though a "use and customs" law states that the indigenous villages are allowed to "apply their own normative systems... as long as they obey the general principles of the Constitution and respect the rights of individuals...particularly the dignity and well-being of women." As for that dignity and well-being? Well, when the widowed mother of Martina Cruz Moreno asked the village elders for building materials to improve her dirt-floored shack, she was told to "Go get yourself a husband."
According to the Associated Press, six years ago, the Mexican government gave a measure of autonomy to Indian settlements under an act called "use and customs," or as Ms. Cruz calls them, "abuse and customs." Cruz is looking to get the tampered election annulled; she submitted a complaint last month to Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, and if necessary, she plans to go to federal election authorities. Maybe the same governing body that decided to protect urban Mexican women from abuse and sexism by giving them their own bus lines can do something for its more rural sisters?