This profile was prepared when Judith Santos was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Judith Santos has developed a system to deal with an alarming hike in violent crime in Mexico, especially in Mexico City where a crime is committed every 3.7 minutes. Aware of the devastating consequences of any violence in the life of any person, she provides the legal, medical and psychotherapeutic assistance crime victims require to defend their rights and restore their sense of well-being. Most frequently Judith responds to violent robbery in public areas, sexual crimes and less often, domestic violence and homicide. She is also working to introduce more caring into the way in which Mexican society, particularly law enforcement and public officials, perceives all victims-whether of crime, violence, natural disasters or human rights abuses-and to reduce their numbers through prevention. In contrast to the indifference and bureaucratic red tape common in official processes, Judith provides citizens with an extensive network of accessible and high quality, if volunteer, services from lawyers, physicians, psychotherapists and citizens' organizations. Also unlike the government, she does not require victims to press charges in order to receive assistance. Her team is the only private organization in Mexico City to provide its comprehensive array of services for victims and provides an example of Judith's concept of how the members of civil society must deal in a mutually supportive way with the realities of violence and disaster.