MEXICO CITY — The man of the house threatened his wife in no uncertain terms, even insufferably: get me a little girl as a 'present' or I'll rape our daughters. The mother brought him a girl. It may have been an existential dilemma but the woman obeyed, condemning a little girl to death in the process. We know what happened next: the girl was the seven-year-old Fatima, who was later found dead.

The real pandemic overwhelming Mexico is not the coronavirus, but impunity; and its most destructive impact is on girls, boys and women. Impunity is rampant, and has allowed violence to take over the life of Mexican society, and even come to appear as normal.

What kind of country would tolerate its society suffering this level of violence while doing nothing? What kind of country allow the intolerable to become a day-to-day reality, without anyone daring to say anything? Is there another country where the government is offended by society's protests against the murders of women and children, and their impunity? Where else are people denounced and discredited for protesting crimes that should not be happening? This can only happen in a country that has lost all sense of civility and its very civilization.

The information revolution, the 21st century's defining trait, has transformed all public activities, but especially relations between government and society. It has given both sides tools that were not previously accessible. The ubiquitous nature of information obliges everyone, both citizens and governments, to act differently. Society is informed and communicates and acts without the government mediation that characterized the 20th century. Bereft of its former monopoly on information which shaped social relations, the Mexican government is playing the victim and refusing to adapt to the new reality.

Today, crises create a rupture. They become a moment of change when rulers and society align to build a new paradigm. Today our government is consciously and systematically choosing confrontation, as it cannot conceive of a society functioning harmoniously. It seems unable to understand the challenge the murders of women have brought to the very gates of the presidential palace.

In the 21st century, a serious and realistic government would be leading a veritable social response to the killing of women and children, and turn these into a common cause to transform the country. But in the 4T (President López Obrador's Fourth Transformation of the state) where everything must be different, the government is the victim and disparages anything and anyone thinking and acting differently, starting with the First Lady who had to retract certain remarks.

If the evil were a coronavirus, we would have been wiped off the map by now.

In 21st century Mexico, it is the victims who are considered guilty, those who denounce muggings, rapes, murders and other social evils. The conservatives are guilty, and those who dissent from the government's truth are traitors. We're back to the authoritarian past of the 20th century.

The murder of women is an evil created and tolerated by a Mexican society that has lost its compass on what is acceptable or intolerable. The horror of a father demanding to be 'gifted' a girl and threatening his own family is irrefutable proof of the destruction of the essence of civility in our country.

To put things in perspective: If the evil in question were a coronavirus, we would have been wiped off the map by now, for our absolute inability to organize ourselves in the face of daily reality. An epidemic that is not contained becomes a pandemic, and pandemics, be they in health or politics, put an end to societies and their rulers.

The murders of women and children should not just be denounced but used to question our ideas on conducting public affairs. That is the way to end them for good. But the absence of this moral compass in government and society has led us to view the most intolerable situations as somehow natural.

This 'damned reality' has fallen into the lap of a government unable to deal with it. Instead of recognizing its duty, its response has been phantasmagoric: how dare this wretched reality sabotage our cherished 4T plans?

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