A former Mexican pastor accused of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl was ordered to buy her father beer as punishment for his crime.
The girl’s family told the municipal government in Santiago Quetzalapa, an indigenous community located around 279 miles east of Mexico City, of the man’s sexual abuse, The Guardian reports. For his alleged crime, he was fined two crates of beer -- to be given to the girl’s father.
Authorities did not arrest the man on charges of aggravated rape until media coverage of his fine spread.
The case is an example of the poor treatment by Mexican authorities towards victims of sexual crimes, as well as the abuse of an idiosyncratic system known as "usos y costumbres" (“traditions and customs”) in indigenous communities.
It is common in Santiago Quetzalapa to handle abuse complaints locally and without the attention of outside authorities, according to Helder Palacios, editorial director of the Ruta 135 website, which first reported the girl’s case.
“There are cases in which there was impunity, there’s no investigation and local prosecutors never receive a criminal complaint,” he said.
The use of the traditions and customs system is supposed to maintain local populations traditions, but critics claim it allows local leaders to avoid written law to settle disputes.
“The argument in these municipalities is that they are governed by their own traditions and customs, but they ultimately end up committing human rights abuses,” Palacios said.
Liquor is reportedly a common fine associated with sexual abuse cases.
“A lot of cases are settled this way: with a bottle of liquor,” Graciela Zabaleta, director of the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Centre in Tuxtepec, Mexico, said.
Zabaleta added that many victims and their families never report the crimes committed against them or take their cases to judicial offices.
According to a report by CEAV, a Mexican government commission focused on giving attention to victims of any kind of violence, nearly two thirds of women 15-years-old and older in Mexico have suffered some kind of violence.
"There are two important facts," the report, translated by VICE News, said. "That violence against women takes place throughout the country and that these are not isolated acts but part of a general trend."
The report stated that the majority of victims do not report the crimes committed against them to police.
Between 2010 and 2015, CEAV estimates there were around 600,000 unreported sexual crimes each year in Mexico.
Of the crimes that are reported, research performed by Catholics For The Right to Choice, an NGO, found only 2 percent actually lead to a prosecution.