Each year, thousands of girls and women in Mexico get pregnant as a result of rape.Having already suffered one traumatizing violation of their physical and moral integrity-the rape-rape survivors often think their situation cannot possibly get any worse.And then some discover they are pregnant.Mexico's laws, at least on paper, take the only humane response: they permit legal abortion after rape.For many rape survivors, however, actual access to safe abortion procedures is made virtually impossible by a maze of administrative hurdles as well as-most pointedly-by official negligence and obstruction.
At the core of this issue is a generalized failure of the Mexican justice system to provide a solution for rampant domestic and sexual violence, including incest and marital rape.Many of the girls and women Human Rights Watch interviewed had not even attempted to report the abuse they endured, seeing the impunity for rape in the justice system.Often the interviewees had personal experience with indifference and mistreatment by public prosecutors and public health system personnel.In desperation, some pregnant rape victims abandon efforts to go through legal channels and instead seek clandestine abortions.As countless studies have showed, such clandestine abortions are generally far more dangerous than legally regulated procedures.Some women and girls die as a result. Others endure grave injury from unsafe abortions: infection, uterine perforation, pelvic inflammatory disease, hemorrhage, and other injury to internal organs.
Mexico's legal framework for the treatment of domestic and sexual violence in many states is seriously deficient.Seven states do not penalize domestic violence specifically, and seventeen states only sanction "repeated" violence in the family.In thirteen states, intercourse with a minor through seduction (so-called estupro) is only criminal if the minor was "chaste" or "honest," and in eleven states "estupro" is not penalized if the perpetrator subsequently marries the underage victim.Incest is defined as "consensual" sex between parents and children or between siblings.Since incest, by this definition, is a crime against the family, and not against the physical integrity of the child, underage incest victims are penalized at the same level as their parents or older siblings.Pregnant victims of incest and "estupro" are also, by law, denied the right to a legal abortion.
The criminalization of children's sexual behavior-even where they may be victims of abuse-is the more troubling because of a generally low age of consent in Mexico.In two jurisdictions, children are considered capable of consenting to sexual relationships once they reach puberty with no age specified. In twenty-one of Mexico's thirty-two jurisdictions, children are considered capable of consenting to sexual intercourse at the age of twelve, in one jurisdiction the age is thirteen, in seven jurisdictions it is fourteen, and only in one it is fifteen.
But even the existing inadequate protections are not properly implemented.Police, public prosecutors, and health officials treat many rape victims dismissively and disrespectfully, regularly accusing girls and women of fabricating the rape. Specialized public prosecutor's offices on sexual violence, where they exist, are often in practice the only place to report sexual violence, further impeding access to justice for rape victims in more remote locations.Many victims of violence fear retribution from the perpetrator, especially if he is a family member.As a consequence, the vast majority of rape victims do not file a report at all.Generous estimates suggest 10 percent of rape victims file an official complaint.The real proportion is likely even less.
For rape victims who become pregnant but do not report the rape, legal abortion is ruled out.All jurisdictions in Mexico treat abortion as a crime-and some states indeed jail women who have illegal abortions-though access to legal abortion is considered a rape victim's right everywhere.Only three of Mexico's thirty-two independent jurisdictions have issued detailed legal and administrative guidelines on how to guarantee this right, and all require that the victims report the rape as an essential first step.In the remaining twenty-nine jurisdictions, confusion reigns.
When pregnant rape and incest victims do report the assault and insist that they want an abortion, they are sent on a veritable obstacle-course that materially diminishes their possibility of obtaining a legal abortion.The worst abuses occur in jurisdictions without administrative guidelines, where the void of guidance seems to terrify officials into inaction and leaves justice and health officials free to claim they have no mandate to facilitate access to legal abortion.
The full horror of what rape victims go through in their attempt to obtain a legal abortion-often including humiliation, degradation, and physical suffering-is in essence a second assault by the justice and health systems. Some girls, like "Graciela Hernndez" who was made pregnant by a father who raped her in hotel rooms every week for more than a year, lose access to legal abortion when prosecutors charge a perpetrator with incest instead of rape.Others, like "Marcela Gmez" seventeen-year-old daughter who was raped by a stranger, are passed from one public agency to another as none want to authorize the abortion.Some are bounced back and forth until the pregnancy is too advanced to be interrupted safely and legally.Others are threatened with jail for procuring a legal abortion, and many are told, without cause, that an abortion at any time during the pregnancy could kill them.
Public officials at times aggressively discourage abortion after rape, including for very young rape victims.A social worker in Jalisco told Human Rights Watch: "We had the case of an eleven or twelve-year-old girl who had been raped by her brother. She came here wanting to have an abortion, but we worked with her psychologically, and in the end she kept her baby.Her little child-sibling."
There has been a marked improvement in at least two of the three jurisdictions that have promulgated procedures for access to legal abortion in recent years-this research did not cover the third.The guidelines have succeeded in reassuring public health and justice officials, enabling them to facilitate access to legal abortion without fearing administrative sanctions such as fines.Public authorities in the two jurisdictions with guidelines covered by the study-Morelos and the Federal District (Mexico City)-showed a clear political will to take responsibility for guaranteeing access to abortion after rape.
Yet even where guidelines exist, serious obstacles remain.The procedures are long and complicated, requiring reviews by at least three separate state agencies (attorney general's office, health sector, and forensic experts).Despite explicit time limits for authorizing legal abortion in law and guidelines, there are often delays, a fact acknowledged by public officials.Some public prosecutors display a clear lack of understanding of the guidelines and-in particular-of rape victims' plight: in various cases, pregnant rape victims were told to wait several weeks for a definite answer on the requested authorization for abortion, because the public prosecutor assigned to their case was going on vacation or had a full schedule.Waiting for an authorization for legal abortion is a luxury a rape victim cannot afford, particularly since most jurisdictions limit the time period for legal abortion to three months of gestation.
Most troubling, harassment of rape victims seeking abortion and those who assist them continues, even in jurisdictions where guidelines for access to legal abortion exist.In Mexico City, a rape victim was told by a doctor at the public hospital to bring a hearse and a coffin for the aborted fetus.In Morelos, social workers and legal advisors who facilitate access to abortion for rape victims are at times referred to as "stork-killers."
One reason for this continued harassment is that the administrative guidelines in Morelos and the Federal District have not been implemented with a view to overcoming the deep social stigma attached to both abortion and rape.Some officials have taken extreme measures to keep the legal abortion process virtually "clandestine," such as deploying secret "commando" doctors to carry out legal abortions in places where they normally do not work.These measures reflect a fear of protest and harassment which is based on concrete experience.However, they also reinforce the stigma and contribute to keeping women, girls, and even public officials in the dark regarding legal abortion.A 2003 survey in Mexico City showed that 74 percent of low-income women did not know abortion is legal in some circumstances.
For Mexico to comply with its international human rights obligations, it must ensure access to safe and legal abortion after rape.Since the 1990s, U.N. treaty bodies have repeatedly emphasized that access to safe and legal abortion can save women's lives and that under international human rights law governments should ensure that women have access to adequate abortion information and services, whether they were raped or not.These treaty bodies have been particularly emphatic that abortion should be legal, safe, and accessible after rape and incest, and have specifically recommended facilitating access to abortion in Mexico.
Human Rights Watch urges the Mexican federal government as well as the state governments to proactively investigate and discipline public officials-including public health personnel, prosecutors, and police-who are abusive or neglectful in their provision of services to victims of domestic and sexual violence.Negligent conduct, which should be sanctioned, includes failure to inform all rape victims of the possibility of legally terminating a potential pregnancy. Human Rights Watch also urges the governments of those twenty-nine states that do not provide specific guidelines on access to legal abortion to do so immediately, and the governments of all states to review guidelines continually to ensure their effectiveness and appropriateness.Further, all state governments in Mexico should provide adequate and continuous training for public officials on the obligation to facilitate access to adequate information regarding legal abortion and access to abortion services.
Mexico's experience highlights the inherent problem with partial decriminalization of abortion: by placing the essential decision-making power for abortion after rape with medical doctors and public prosecutors, procedures and formalities gain more legitimacy than a woman's right to decide voluntarily with regard to her pregnancy. While this report focuses on access to abortion after rape and incest, Human Rights Watch advocates for women's right to decide independently in matters related to abortion without interference from the state or others in all cases.
The Second Assault is based on field research in Mexico in October and December 2005, as well as prior and subsequent research conducted by Human Rights Watch throughout 2005 and the beginning of 2006.Human Rights Watch conducted more than one hundred interviews with lawyers, doctors, prosecutors, public officials, rape victims and their families from Baja California Norte, Chiapas, the Federal District (Mexico City), Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, Nuevo Len, San Luis Potos, and Yucatn.
We interviewed more than sixty doctors, social workers, and government officials.We also interviewed more than twenty legal representatives for rape victims, who provided official legal documents from numerous cases involving legal abortion, some granted and some denied, as well as representatives from nongovernmental organizations and help-line workers who provided us with first-hand accounts of cases.All documents cited in this report are either publicly available or on file with Human Rights Watch, as noted.
While we investigated dozens of cases, the report draws most heavily on in-depth Human Rights Watch interviews with ten rape victims who became pregnant as a result of the rape (seven women and three girls) and eleven family members of these victims, and on detailed trial transcripts from five other cases. The relatively small sample size serves to illustrate the level of stigmatization of this issue: many women and girls who had confronted imposed pregnancies after rape were too afraid or declared themselves too traumatized to testify.Unless otherwise noted, all names and identifying information of the rape victims and their families have been changed to protect their privacy.
III. Impunity for Sexual and Domestic Violence
At least every four minutes in Mexico on average, a girl or a woman is raped.Only a fraction of these rapes are reported to the authorities.In even fewer cases are the rapists held responsible.In the rare cases where girls and women seek justice for the sexual abuse they have suffered, they generally meet with suspicion, apathy, and disrespect.This situation is even more pronounced when girls and women who are pregnant as the result of a rape want to terminate the pregnancy.Often, prosecutors, doctors, and social workers ignore them.Sometimes, government officials actively silence rape victims with insults and threats, in flagrant disregard for their human dignity and their rights to nondiscrimination, due process, health, and equality under the law.
Impunity for sexual and domestic violence in Mexico is rooted in three main problems:
1)Underreporting and underestimation of the extent of domestic and sexual violence;
2)An inadequate legal framework for prevention, protection, and punishment; and
3)Lax implementation of existing legal standards.
These three issues are mutually reinforcing:lax implementation of the law means victims are less likely to report the crimes and underreporting undercuts pressure for necessary legal reforms. It is no coincidence that the most nationally and internationally visible expression of violence against women in Mexico-the largely unsolved cases of mutilation and murder of women in Ciudad Jurez in the state of Chihuahua-is also the one that has elicited the strongest government response.In fact, barring Ciudad Jurez, violence against women tends to be downplayed by public officials, especially at the state level, who share the widely held but demonstrably false misconception that it is a problem confined largely to poor, uneducated, unemployed, or otherwise marginalized people.
Sexual and Domestic Violence: Underreported and Underrepresented in Government Crime Estimates
Most public officials acknowledge that domestic and sexual violence is underreported.According to NGO representatives, this underreporting has led violence against women to be grossly underestimated in government figures, in particular in the case of sexual violence and rape.Few officials Human Rights Watch met with expressed awareness or concern that the official estimates on rates of violence likely fall far short of reality.
A 2003 government survey concluded that 46.6 percent of Mexican women over fifteen (approximately 24.5 million women and girls if extrapolated to the total population) had faced some form of violence in their home during the twelve months prior to the study.This 46.6 percent includes economic threats and emotional violence. The same study concluded that approximately 9.3 percent (almost 5 million women and girls) were found to have suffered physical violence within the past twelve months.Another government survey published in 2004 found that 9.8 percent of women and girls suffered physical violence at the hands of their current husband or partner.Representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that work directly with victims of domestic violence told Human Rights Watch that rates of violence are undoubtedly much higher and that, in their experience, domestic violence seems to be becoming more common.NGO representatives from several states agreed that reliable statistics on this issue were hard to come by, notably because domestic violence still was not seen as a government priority despite some positive legal and policy moves.
The prevalence of sexual violence is difficult to estimate since very few rape victims report the crime to the authorities."Sexual crimes are some of the least reported crimes," said Aurora del Rio Zolezzi, deputy director of the gender equity office at the National Health Ministry. "A couple of years back, about 3.5 complaints were filed a day for rape in Mexico City. It was estimated that this was about 10 percent [of all cases]."On this basis, the government estimated that approximately 120-130,000 rapes (affecting the equivalent of 0.23-0.25 percent of the female population) occurred annually in all of Mexico.However, a number of recent government surveys indicate the likelihood that this represents only a fraction of actual rapes committed against girls and women in Mexico on an annual basis.
Inadequate Legal Framework for the Prevention and Punishment of Violence against Women
Mexican state laws do not adequately protect women and girls against violence and abuse, despite recent positive policy developments at the federal level.The federal nature of the Mexican system of government gives the thirty-one states and the Federal District (Mexico City) relative autonomy on legal and policy responses to violence against women, though state laws and their interpretation have to conform to the Federal Constitution, federal laws, and international treaties.As a consequence of Mexico's federalism, the definition and punishment of crimes is generally left to the state-level authorities, while the national penal code regulates federal crimes, such as drug trafficking, and common crimes committed on exclusively federal territory.Domestic violence is not considered a federal crime, unless committed on federal territory, though the federal government has urged state governments to improve their response to violence against women.
At the federal level, Mexico took some positive steps between 2000 and 2005 toward bringing its policy and legislation in line with international human rights standards on sex equality and the prevention and punishment of violence against women.For example, in 2001, the Federal Constitution was amended to prohibit all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sex. Also in 2001, the government created the National Women's Institute (INMUJERES),a government agency with ministerial rank mandated to foster gender equity.The government also promulgated a national program for the promotion of equality, which prioritizes the prevention of violence against women.On international women's day in 2002, all national ministers signed a National Agreement for Equity between Men and Women, which requires all state and national government agencies to implement this program.Under the auspices of the National Agreement, the federal government in 2002 also launched a five-year plan focused specifically on violence against women.These developments came about largely as the result of decades of pressure from the organized women's movement in Mexico.
State Law and Policy on Domestic Violence
In several states, law and policy inadequately address the issue of violence against women, and existing protections fall short of Mexico's international obligation to adopt all necessary penal, civil, and administrative provisions to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women.In seven of Mexico's thirty-two independent jurisdictions, there is no specific law on the prevention and punishment of domestic violence.Seven states do not recognize domestic violence as a crime.Of the twenty-five states where domestic violence is penalized, fifteen state penal codes require women to suffer "repeated" violence in the family in order for it to be criminal.In eleven states, domestic violence is considered an infraction of the state civil code in addition to a criminal offense, though seven of these states again require the violence to be repeated to merit sanctions.
In addition to cumbersome legal definitions of domestic violence in some states, public officials at times invent further requirements for victims to comply with.For example, where the law requires domestic violence to be "repeated," public officials told Human Rights Watch that a victim would have to file at least three reports in order for the assault to merit sanctions as domestic violence.Such a reporting requirement is not included as a condition for sanctions in the state penal codes or criminal procedure codes in any of the seventeen states where the penal or civil codes require violence to be "repeated."
Many interviewees further lamented the narrow concept of violence prevalent among public officials, also not mandated by state laws.Where domestic violence is criminalized specifically, the sanctions generally apply to emotional violence as well as physical violence, though, according to experts working on domestic violence, only physical violence is taken even somewhat seriously by public officials. "Insofar as there are no clear marks on the body, nobody sees the problem," said Marta Gmez Silva, a psychologist who treats victims of violence for an NGO in Mexico City.Leslie Alonzo Prez, a legal advisor from the state Integrated Family Services agency (DIF) in Morelos, exclaimed: "[Many public prosecutors] don't understand that family violence isn't just physical, so if they don't see a black eye, they send them [the victims] away."
Moreover, even where the violence is physical and the signs of it are visible, women and girls say that public prosecutors and police often fail to investigate complaints of domestic violence."Ana Daz," a twenty-nine-year-old woman from Yucatn, had experienced this first hand: "One time I had gone to declare against my [now] ex-husband, and I was all black and blue, all beaten up.And they said to me that there wasn't enough proof. They took my declaration and did nothing."
In the health system, the response to domestic violence is more adequately and evenly regulated than in the justice system.This happens notably through a national norm on medical assistance to victims of domestic violence, which is mandatory for all public and private health providers.The consultation process leading up to the issuing of this norm in 1999 included participation by NGOs that work directly with victims of violence, and that were able to insist on the inclusion of a number of helpful provisions.For example, this norm specifically requires health professionals to seek to determine whether or not a pregnancy can be assumed to be the result of rape or abuse in the family.According to the norm, all health centers and hospitals must establish internal guidelines for referring each presumed victim of domestic violence to the appropriate authorities, including the attorney general's office.The national norm on medical assistance for victims of domestic violence further requires that all health institutions register each case of domestic violence for the purpose of estimating the extent of the problem.
Yet the effectiveness of the norm is undercut by several factors.First, focusing exclusively as it does on domestic violence, it does not address any form of violence that occurs outside the family.At the end of 2005 the norm was under review and Aurora del Rio Zolezzi from the National Health Ministry told Human Rights Watch that this deficiency was likely to be overcome in the revised norm, which in its current draft form focuses on both domestic violence and on sexual violence generally.
Second, the norm is unknown-and therefore not applied-by many health professionals.Most of the state health ministers Human Rights Watch interviewed in the course of this research did not know that their institution was required to keep a register of cases of domestic violence.A study published by the national health ministry in 2003 concluded:
The distribution [of the national norm] and the training of health personnel in the implementation of it have been very precarious.Apart from laudable exceptions, there are no specific programs to deal with [domestic violence], neither in the public health centers nor in the health centers belonging to the social security system, and health personnel often demonstrate strong resistance to getting involved in an issue that they see as outside their area of competence.
As of January 2006, the national health ministry was distributing a model, first published in 2004, for the application of the national norm to state health ministries, public hospitals, and health centers.
State Law and Policy on Sexual Violence
Applicable law and policy on sexual violence in Mexico in many states run counter to international human rights standards, notably by defining sanctions for some sexual offenses with reference to the "chastity" of the victim.As with domestic violence, the legal framework on sexual violence varies from state to state. Most states criminalize three types of sexual intercourse: rape (and statutory rape,) incest and "estupro" (intercourse with an adolescent girl through seduction or deceit, as opposed to force).In thirteen states, "estupro" is only a crime when the underage victim is known to live "chastely" or "honestly," and in at least eleven states "estupro" is not penalized if the perpetrator subsequently marries the underage victim.
Both "rape" and "estupro" are generally considered crimes against the physical or sexual integrity of the victim.Typically "rape" is defined as forced anal or vaginal intercourse involving actual or threatened "physical or moral" violence, while "estupro" is seen as intercourse with an adolescent girl obtained through seduction or deceit."Incest," on the other hand, is typically not considered a crime against the physical or sexual integrity of the victim, but rather against the family, and is generally defined as "consensual" sex between parents and children or between siblings.Because the crime is defined as an assault on the family unit and because the sexual intercourse is legally defined as consensual, both parties are subject to criminal penalties (including victims under eighteen).
Most states criminalize forced intercourse between family members as rape with extenuating circumstances-as opposed to "consensual" intercourse between family members which under Mexican law would be "incest."However, Human Rights Watch found that at least in some cases, public prosecutors assume that incestuous sexual relationships are consensual, even when they involve very young children. In Guanajuato, "Ximena Espinosa," for example, was systematically raped and sexually abused by her father for as long as she could remember and at least since the age of six.As of October 2005, the state was investigating incest charges against her.The charges had apparently been brought after her father accused Espinosa of incest, when he was arrested during investigations into his systematic rapes of her sister.Espinosa's husband, "Claudio Lpez," told Human Rights Watch: "The public prosecutor [told us]: 'Don't even come down here, because I will call two police officers to arrest her.'"
It should be noted that "incest" as defined in Mexican state laws may include situations that qualify as sexual exploitation or abuse under international law.In its handbook on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) notes that "the definition of sexual abuse of children [for the purposes of the Convention on the Rights of the Child] covers more than non-consensual activities, including sexual activities with children below the age of consent, whether or not they appeared willing or even initiating partners."This comment would seem to ring particularly true where the sexual relationship in question is between a child and a person in a position of trust or authority, such as a parent, a guardian, or an older sibling.In these situations it is particularly worrisome that Mexican law, instead of protecting the child against this sexual abuse, criminalizes the child's behavior.
The criminalization of children's sexual behavior-even where they may be victims of abuse-is the more troubling because of a generally low age of consent in Mexico.In two jurisdictions, children are considered capable of consenting to sexual relationships once they reach puberty with no age specified.In twenty-one of Mexico's thirty-two jurisdictions, children are considered capable of consenting to sexual intercourse at the age of twelve, in one jurisdiction the age of consent is thirteen, in seven jurisdiction it is fourteen, and in only one it is fifteen.
While the Committee on the Rights of the Child has not proposed a specific age at which the child has a right (and an ability) to consent to sexual activity, it has, in its concluding observations to specific countries, expressed concern with situations where the age of consent is not defined by law at all, and has, in other reports, recommended that it be set at least at thirteen.The Committee has further expressed concern with inadequate protections from sexual exploitation for older adolescents.Similarly, a UNICEF's handbook concludes:
[Limits on the age of consent] need to be judged against the overall principles of respect of the child's evolving capacities, and for his or her best interests and health and maximum development.Sexual exploitation of children may well continue beyond any set age for consent, and the protection of article 34 [protection against sexual exploitation] exists up to the age of 18.
In the course of this research, many public officials expressed to Human Rights Watch a seemingly wholesale acceptance of all children's ability to consent to sex, even with a parent, guardian, or sibling, after the age of twelve.Such a perception is not consistent with the protections contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.It is, however, partially condoned by Mexican law.Most Mexican state penal codes distinguish between statutory rape (intercourse with a child under the age of consent); "incest" (entirely voluntary intercourse between a parent and a child over the age of consent or between siblings over the age of consent); rape (intercourse imposed through moral or physical violence or threat of violence); and rape with extenuating circumstances (rape committed by a parent or a parental figure).This means that a parent, under current Mexican law, only is subject to penal sanctions for intercourse with his or her child if the child is under the age of consent or if a prosecutor is able to establish the use of psychological or physical violence.
In addition, husbands could until recently demand intercourse with their wives for purposes of procreation without being charged with rape.In 1994, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ruled that forced sexual relations within a marriage could not be considered "rape," but rather an undue exercise of conjugal rights, because the purpose of marriage was procreation.The Supreme Court clarified that imposed intercourse between spouses was rape if it was "against nature," defined as "not within those [forms] permitted for purposes of procreation." This decision was overturned by the same court in November 2005-the Supreme Court now says that forced intercourse in marriage is rape.While this development is positive, the implications of the new jurisprudence will likely not be felt in women's lives for some time.Some married women who report sexual violence in the home to the authorities are still told to go home, sort it out with their husbands, or stop provoking rape.
Lax Implementation of Legal Standards
Even the existing inadequate laws for the prevention and punishment of violence against women are often not properly implemented. NGO representatives, lawyers and even public officials mentioned three main problems in this regard:
- A pervasive distrust of rape victims' testimony;
- The inaccessibility of attorneys general's specialized agencies on sexual crimes; and
- Lack of training on gender-based violence for public prosecutors, forensic doctors, and other expert witnesses.
In 2005, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Yakin Erturk, conducted a mission to Mexico and confirmed the prevalence of these problems.She added that police and prosecutors often are noticeably reluctant to receive and follow up on complaints related to violence against women.
Pervasive Distrust of Rape Victim Testimony
Generally, [rape victims] are very scared and very angry because of how they have been treated at the public prosecutor's office. They come here as survivors.Not only of the rape but of all of those people [from the authorities]. [Sometimes] they are blamed, even by the [forensic] psychologist: what were they doing outside at that time of night, why were they wearing a mini-skirt, why did they not scream.
-Nurse at a public hospital in Morelos
Human Rights Watch research indicates that rape victim testimony often is treated as highly suspicious by prosecutors and courts, more so than testimony on other types of crimes. Routinely, women are aggressively questioned on whether the intercourse was really involuntary, whether the victim somehow provoked or deserved the assault, and whether the assault occurred at all.Fair trial standards, of course, require that convincing evidence be presented to prove all elements of a crime, but the distrust of victim's rape testimony seems to be taken to an extreme, ultimately impeding fair trials."They treat you according to how they see you, how you dress, if you dress provocatively," said "Blanca Valds," who had decided not to report a rape because the police and public prosecutors all but ignored her when she tried to file a complaint against her husband after he hit her with a hammer."They minimized everything I said," she continued."And them minimizing me is part of [the injustice]."
"Marta Chvez," a fourteen-year-old girl in Mexico state who was raped repeatedly over three years by her uncle and cousin, personally experienced mistrust and mistreatment at the public prosecutor's office in 2005, leading ultimately to the denial of a legal abortion.Chvez was assisted by representatives of a nongovernmental organization, Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Mexico (ddeser, Red por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos en Mxico [ddser is not capitalized]).A ddser representative, who was present during Chvez' interviews with the public prosecutor, said:
The public prosecutor [who took down the complaint] confronted the girl, saying things like: 'Let's see, tell me the truth: what did you do, eh?Because listen, you are fourteen years old, and you knew what [sex] was from you were ten.' He also said to her: 'Admit that you are jealous, because your uncle looked at your [eleven-year-old] sister!'He was referring to the fact that the uncle had abused the sister [too] and that [Chvez] would be reporting [the rape] out of jealousy.
In her 1997 report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, then-Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Radhika Coomaraswamy described this type of dismissive and disparaging attitude toward rape victims by public authorities as a form of discriminatory behavior that "greatly influence[s] whether the woman victim will pursue her complaint."
Jos Manuel Lpez, president of an NGO that has worked with victims of violence in Jalisco since 1989, told Human Rights Watch that he routinely witnessed the mistreatment of rape victims due to skepticism about their testimony.Some years back, he personally witnessed the mistreatment of an elderly rape victim at the attorney general's office in Guadalajara:
[A]n old, poor woman came in to report a rape, and the public prosecutor [taking her statement] gets up.He says: "Old woman, how do you expect me to believe that you were raped?Hey, so-and-so [signaling a male colleague], look at her: would you feel like raping her?"And the woman got so upset, she left [and didn't report the crime].
Lpez continued that he at times felt conflicted about encouraging victims of violence to seek justice "considering how they are treated [by the authorities]."
Paradoxically, the Mexican legal system which generally criminalizes abortion contributes directly to a particularly pronounced distrust of pregnant rape victim testimony. Lorena Menchaca, state psychological expert witness in Cuautla, Morelos, explained: "With the lawyers, the fear is always that the woman was not really abused but that it is the result of a consensual relationship, and then [abortion] is no longer legal." Ultimately, the remedy to this perverse dynamic is for Mexican authorities to de-link rape and abortion through laws providing broader access to abortion.Even under the current legal regime, however, it is incumbent on prosecutors and other judicial system personnel to give priority to ensuring that pregnant rape victims are able to exercise their right to a legal and safe abortion.The alternative is forcing victims to bear the often devastating consequences.
A common consequence is that the fear of mistreatment at the attorney general's office discourages many rape victims from filing official complaints. Marta Torres Falcn, a professor at the Colegio de Mxico University in Mexico City who has conducted detailed research on access to justice for rape victims, said that some rape victims overcame their fear when they found out they are pregnant, because they wanted to access the legal abortion services they are entitled to by law.But Torres said these rape victims are doubly suspected of lying: "The public prosecutors say that the women are lying. 'Why didn't she report this before?' The prosecutors say to me: 'Eighty percent of the women lie.We have to be very smart to make sure they don't cheat us!'"
Mara Luisa Becerril, director of an NGO that works directly with victims of violence in Morelos, agreed: "No one believes the women, not in the judicial system, not in the health sector. ... [Public prosecutors say:] 'And what if she is lying? What if it wasn't rape, and she wanted it [the sexual relation].' ... Very few doctors put themselves in the place of the women to understand that a pregnancy that is the result of rape really must be horrible."
Moreover, the limitations on legal abortion are sometimes converted into a justification for decidedly unwarranted legal investigations and subsequent delay.In a specific case in Guanajuato, for example, the public prosecutors seized upon the fact that the rape victim already had a child-and therefore obviously was not a virgin-to cast doubt on the involuntary nature of the rape. Vernica Cruz, from an NGO that works for access to legal abortion after rape in Guanajuato, personally provided the rape victim with emotional support and assistance.She recalled : "The issue of [procuring a legal abortion] became secondary, it was all about making them see that this [the rape] was a crime. ... They said that if she already had one child, it was because she wanted [sex]."Cruz noted that the distrust of the rape victim's testimony in this case effectively made a legal abortion impossible: "Three months went by with this [trying to prove she was lying], and then there was nothing to do [because the pregnancy was too advanced for a safe abortion.]"In this case, the twenty-nine-year-old rape victim was found to have a mental capacity of a ten-year-old girl and incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse, which under Guanajuato's penal code converted the crime committed against her into statutory rape.Since no one refuted that sexual intercourse had taken place, the authorization for a legal abortion could have been given directly.
The notion that women or girls who are not virgins could not possibly have been raped finds its most direct expression in the forensic medical reports used in many states.Generally, during the investigation of a rape, public prosecutors ask a forensic doctor affiliated with the attorney general's office to examine the victim and answer of specific questions.Salvador Daz Snchez, a forensic doctor in Jalisco, explained that existing guidelines do not require forensic doctors to check for signs or symptoms of forced vaginal penetration; they require the doctor to evaluate if and when the victim was "devirginized."Other states ask for similar information from forensic doctors, implying a continued focus on rape as an attack on the victim's chastity (and her family's honor) and not on her physical integrity.
Other Barriers to Reporting Rape
Human Rights Watch found that specialized prosecutor agencies on sexual violence, where they exist, were inaccessible to many rape victims. Such agencies often were designated or seen as the only place to report sexual violence, thus further impeding justice for rape cases.
Armando Villarreal, attorney general for Yucatn, told Human Rights Watch that the only place to report a sexual crime in Yucatn (a state the size of Switzerland) would be in the one specialized agency in that state in Mrida: "There is no other place in the whole state where you can report a crime of this nature."The human rights ombudsperson in Yucatn, Sergio Salazar Vadillo, reflected on this lack of accessibility:
More than 50 percent of [Yucatn's] population lives outside Mrida. When a person goes to report a sexual crime in rural areas, they say: "Go to Mrida." Already, it is difficult enough to get people to report [sexual violence] in the first place.And to get them to go to Mrida; forget about it!
Salazar told Human Rights Watch that the mother of an adolescent rape victim had filed a complaint with his office in 2000 after prosecutors at the local attorney general's office in Maxcan, 80 kilometers from Mrida, had insulted her and refused to record her complaint.The state's human rights ombudsperson's office issued a recommendation on this case in 2002, stating inter alia that the attorney general's office should file administrative charges against the public prosecutors who had refused to take the complaint and who had channeled the underage rape victim and her mother to Mrida.This recommendation was rejected by the attorney general's office, which, according to Salazar, issued a letter to the human rights ombudsperson suggesting that things were fine as they were.
Some women told Human Rights Watch that they had had to file the same complaint twice because the public prosecutors in the attorney general's office closest to their home had not acted upon the initial complaints. "My mother first went to [the specialized agency in town in Guanajuato]," said "Socorro Salazar," sister of a mute rape victim. "And they didn't pay any attention to her. They said they needed more proof [but didn't investigate]. ... And they said: 'No, ma'am, we can't do anything for you.' ... That's when, because we have family in [a larger city in Guanajuato], my aunt said that she was going to find out what to do there. ... And [the public prosecutors in the second agency] called [the first agency] and found out that they hadn't even opened a file [on the case]."Salazar's mother, "Teresa Prez," then resorted to filing the case in the second city, and had to pay considerably more on transportation so that she and her daughter could attend legal depositions and be present for required forensic tests.Salazar lamented: "He [the rapist] says: 'Let's see when she [my mother] gets tired [of traveling to the public prosecutor's office].'Because we don't have any money and he does."
Undue Emphasis on Reconciliation and Mediation
Social workers, lawyers, and NGO representatives told Human Rights Watch that public prosecutors often tell victims of domestic and sexual violence to reconcile with the aggressor, in particular if he is a family member.In some states, public prosecutors act as mediators between victims and assumed perpetrators.
Rocio Corral Espinosa, director of an NGO in Mexico City that works with victims of violence, saw the emphasis on reconciliation and mediation as intimately related to impunity: "There is no national law against violence in the family. There is no guarantee that women have any access to justice. Some judges send them directly to family therapy, and there are public prosecutors who tell the women to go home." Jos Manuel Lpez, an NGO representative from Jalisco, echoed this: "If a woman goes to report [violence] at the public prosecutor's office, they ask: 'And what if you are going to end up alone? Much better to forgive him.'"Ana Mara Lpez, from the Federal District government's Women's Institute in Mexico City, agreed: "There are still a lot of people in the judicial system who are not very sensitive. If we send [victims of violence] alone to the prosecutor, the prosecutor will say: 'Why don't you go back to your husband?It would be better if you just went home.'"
However, when victims report violence, they have often suffered years of abuse."The state policy is to tell the man to change his behavior, and tell the women to go home [to the abusive man]," said Juliana Quintanilla, coordinator for the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Morelos, an NGO. "But we know that when she [finally] reports the violence, it is because she has come to the end."Fernando Toranzo Fernndez, head of public health services in San Luis Potos, agreed: "The victims come [to us] when they are at the point of not being able to tolerate any more.And if you do a study of each case, you will find years of abuse and violence in each one."
Undue emphasis on reconciliation and mediation is problematic for a number of reasons.Victims of domestic and sexual violence are unlikely to file a report unless the aggressor is a repeat abuser or the rape or violence was committed by a stranger.Further, an emphasis on reconciliation contributes to the pervasive notion that "low levels" of violence or sexual abuse in marriage are unavoidable and therefore not criminal.Insistence that the female victim negotiate with the aggressor can also lead to further abuse, and assumes that the victim and the perpetrator of the crime are equally empowered to negotiate their relationship.In fact, while voluntary mediation certainly should be offered by the state, undue emphasis on mediation can perpetuate an existing power imbalance, especially if not accompanied by policy measures that offer real alternatives to staying in an abusive relationship.Such measures might include the availability of long-term shelters, and economic support for single parents.
Ulises Sandal Ramos Koprivitza, human rights director for the attorney general's office in the Federal District, acknowledged the dynamics of the situation, yet did not see this as contradicting an institutional policy to promote conciliation over justice.Ramos said that the Federal District since 2004 had employed a policy that encourages all non-serious crimes (of which domestic violence is considered one) to pass through mediation. "Criminal punishment should be the last option.This is in order to open the door for other types of alternatives of conflict resolution," he said.Later in the interview, however, he noted that "the victim [of domestic and sexual violence] comes to us when the aggressor has abused them once too often or is continually abusing them."
The Cost of Justice
Some of the people Human Rights Watch interviewed said that court fees and corruption are also barriers to women and girls seeking redress. An official at a family services agency in Morelos told Human Rights Watch:
We have sent victims of violence, women, children, to the prosecutor's office, and they send them right back to us. [They say that it is] because they don't have the time [to take the report].[Or] because [the victims] aren't black and blue. It's all a lie: it's because there is no money. If there is no money, the police department doesn't move, and the public prosecutor doesn't release the file.
Most women we interviewed for this report connected the impunity they faced with their poverty and thus inability to pay court fees, much less bribes: "I hadn't reported the case, because I didn't have any money," said "Andrea Snchez," mother of an adolescent mute rape victim in Guanajuato."Jos Ayala," father of an adolescent rape victim in Morelos, told Human Rights Watch that the cost of justice had become too great for his family:
If you can make justice, that's your thing, if not, well, that's how it is. I would need to give a person at the court 200 pesos [U.S.$20] [to continue with the case] and I don't have that. They raped my daughter and they abused her, and it is really difficult, but I don't have any money.
Lack of Public Services
Victims of domestic and sexual violence also risk another more tangible "cost" of attempting to obtain justice for violent crimes: an escalation of the violence."A lot of the women, we can't convince them to report [the violence]," said Ester Chvez Cano, an NGO representative with more than a decade of experience working with victims of violence. "Because they say it's going to get worse.They even say [the perpetrator] might kill them."Fernando Toranzo Fernndez, head of public health services in San Luis Potos agreed: "In many cases, the rapist threatens the victim with death threats, and so they don't report the crime."This fear was redoubled where the perpetrator was a family-member or a person of authority with regard to the victim."We have pregnant girls here who were impregnated by members of their own family: the stepfather, the uncle," lamented Iliana Romo Huerta, head of the program for adolescent mothers at a public hospital in Jalisco. "And they don't report the abuse out of fear of retribution."
Most state authorities did not demonstrate an active interest in the implementation of witness protection programs or other public programs that might protect girls and women from violent retaliation after reporting domestic or sexual violence, let alone show any signs of grappling with the specific difficulties of creating effective programs in the domestic violence context.Brbara Ylln Rondero, head of the Deputy Attorney General's Office on services for victims in the Federal District, told Human Rights Watch that this could be related to a wish to keep statistics on crime low: "The truth is that the authorities do not want [rape victims] to report, because [figures on reporting] is how you measure insecurity. ... It has to do with the politicization of justice and security."
IV. Abortion in Mexico
Abortion is a crime in Mexico, and women in some states continue to be prosecuted for it.At the same time, all jurisdictions establish some exceptions for the general criminalization of abortion, and all penal codes permit legal abortion for rape survivors.Every single public official Human Rights Watch interviewed for this report conceded that abortion after rape is a woman's right, and public opinion polls consistently show that the majority of the Mexican population supports this right though many are unaware it is currently guaranteed in the law.
As in most countries where abortion is criminalized, estimates on the prevalence of abortion vary widely.In 2003, the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) published a study estimating that approximately half a million girls and women undergo abortion (both legal and illegal) every year in Mexico.In 2005, UNAM updated its study, concluding that the previous figure had seriously underestimated the prevalence of abortion and that the annual number of abortions in Mexico was closer to one million.This would constitute approximately 30 percent of all pregnancies in a year.An estimate published by the Latin American Center on Health and Women (Celsam) concluded in 2004 that the annual number of abortions was between half a million and 850,000.Meanwhile, government figures dating from 1995 estimate that only 100,000 clandestine abortions are carried out each year.
Legal Framework, Public Debate, and Occurrence
Abortion has constituted a crime in Mexico at least since 1931.The initial federal law, still on the books, makes abortion punishable with one to three years of imprisonment when carried out with the pregnant woman's consent and three to six years when carried out without consent.Both women and abortion practitioners can be prosecuted for this crime.The 1931 penal code waives all criminal penalties for abortion after rape where the pregnant woman's life would be endangered by a continued pregnancy or where the abortion is the result of negligent behavior on the part of the pregnant woman.
Due to Mexico's federal structure, the federal penal code provisions on abortion are generally irrelevant to the treatment of this issue at state level and would only apply if the abortion were carried out under exclusively federal jurisdiction.Nevertheless, the 1931 penal code has served as a model for state penal codes.As of January 2006, all state penal codes criminalize abortion both for the pregnant woman who procures the abortion and for the health professional who provides it.Applicable penalties vary from state to state, but the most commonly mandated sentence is anywhere between six months and five or six years.In eleven states, as well as in the federal penal code, the sentence is substantially lower when the woman who aborted "does not have a bad reputation," when the pregnancy was the result of a sexual relationship outside of marriage, and when the woman had managed to keep the pregnancy secret.
All states waive penalties for abortion in at least one circumstance: where the pregnancy is the result of rape.Other reasons for waiving the penalty for abortion are:
- the abortion is the result of negligent behavior on the part of the pregnant woman (valid in twenty-nine states);
- to save the life of the pregnant woman (valid in twenty-seven states);
- the fetus has serious genetic malformations (valid in thirteen states);
- to protect the health of the pregnant woman (valid in ten states);
- the pregnancy is the result of non-consensual artificial insemination (valid in eleven states); and
- where the woman already has three other children, for economic reasons (valid only in Yucatn).
For almost seventy years, the laws on abortion remained virtually untouched.A number of important developments on the criminalization of abortion have happened since 2000.In August 2000, the Guanajuato Congress approved reforms that eliminated the possibility for legal abortion after rape, though the governor of the state vetoed the law a month later amidst national furor.In the same month, after much public debate, the Morelos Congress approved an additional article for that state's criminal procedure code which sets out procedures for access to legal abortion.Despite having threatened to do so, the governor of Morelos, under pressure from women's groups and health advocates, did not veto the new procedures.
Also in 2000, the head of government in the Federal District, Rosario Robles, proposed an amendment to the penal code and the criminal procedure code of the Federal District to lower the penalties for criminal abortion and oblige public health authorities to provide access for abortion after rape.The bill-dubbed the "Robles Law"-was approved by the local congress, entered into force, and was immediately subject to a claim of unconstitutionality before Mexico's national Supreme Court.This lawsuit stalled the implementation of the law until 2002.In January 2002, the Supreme Court declared the law constitutional.
Legal reforms in two jurisdictions were aimed at further guaranteeing the right to abortion after rape.In March 2005, Baja California Sur reformed its penal code to include an additional exception for the criminalization of abortion-where the woman's health is endangered by the pregnancy-and to establish lower penalties for illegal abortion.Baja California Sur also reformed its criminal procedure code to include specific procedures for access to legal abortion after rape.These reforms entered into force in September 2005.Both Baja California Sur (in 2005) and Mexico City (in 2003) reformed their general health codes to include an obligation to provide abortions free of charge in public health institutions in those cases where abortion is not subject to penal sanctions, including after rape.Most developments toward decriminalization of abortion have occurred only after years of organizing and pressure by women's rights activists and despite staunch opposition from conservative groups.
The congressional debates on abortion in Guanajuato, Morelos, and the Federal District in 2000 happened in the midst of a larger public debate on abortion after rape, a debate sparked by a controversial case originating in Baja California: the so-called Paulina case.Paulina Ramrez Jacinto was fourteen when she was raped in 1999 in Baja California Norte.Despite having procured-after much back-and-forth-the needed authorization from the state attorney general's office, Ramrez did not receive the abortion to which she was legally entitled because of sustained pressure from anti-abortion groups and individuals.The case caused a national uproar when Ramrez publicized what had happened through the human rights ombudsperson in Baja California Norte and the press.Public opinion surveys at the time and since show the Mexican population to be generally in favor of legal abortion after rape, which may have contributed both to the veto of the stricter law in Guanajuato and to Morelos' governor's backing down on his threat to veto abortion access procedures.
Prosecution for Illegal Abortions
Yes, of course we implement [the penal sanctions for illegal abortion]. If anyone goes to jail, it is the woman.
-DeputyAttorney General, San Luis Potos
Officials in most states told Human Rights Watch they do not maintain specific data on the number of women in prison for the crime of abortion. It is likely that only a small portion of the estimated hundreds of thousands of girls and women who undergo clandestine abortion in Mexico each year go to jail. Nevertheless, prosecutions of girls and women who have had illegal abortions are not unknown."From August to December 2005, we have had ten women here [charged] for illegal abortion," said Carmen Hernndez Rosas, head of the forensic medical team in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
In stark contrast to the dismissive attitude and delays victims of domestic and sexual violence experience when they seek redress for crimes committed against them, justice seems to be relatively swift when the state decides to prosecute for illegal abortion.In Guanajuato, a public official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said:
There are five women [currently] in jail for abortion [in Guanajuato]. [In one case] a woman gets to the hospital with very strong hemorrhaging, and the first thing the doctor does is to report her [to the authorities]. They arrest her very fast, and they sent her to jail for a week [pre-sentence detention].Why is it that when it is a rape case, everything is so negative, [and] they don't do anything. And in those cases [of illegal abortion], everything is so fast?
Guanajuato's attorney general denied that any women have been sentenced for abortion over the past five years in that state or are currently in jail for that crime.
"Ana Daz," a twenty-nine-year-old woman from Yucatn personally experienced the priority authorities give to investigations of presumed illegal abortions as compared to reports of domestic violence. When she attempted to file a complaint against her now ex-husband for domestic violence, the public prosecutor told her that there was not enough proof, despite the fact that "I was all black and blue, all beaten up."The public prosecutor took her declaration once, and, according to Daz, then did nothing.In contrast, one year later when she went to a public hospital with hemorrhaging, the public prosecutors suspected an illegal abortion and seemingly spared no effort to prove her crime:
At 7:30 p.m. they [the doctors] did the curettage [to clean me out]. And then it all started, the hardest part. I was still more or less sleepy after the anesthesia. I saw a person, he said can I ask you questions, and I said yes. [I said] I didn't know that I was pregnant. In fact, I had gone four times to [the health center linked to my] social security and they had told me it was my colon [that made my stomach hurt]. [The public prosecutors] took my declaration, one time. Then two more persons came, one was a chemical expert from the public prosecutor's office, and another person also from the public prosecutor's office, and once more I had to give the whole explanation. Then two-three hours later, again.I think they came back four or five times. At in the morning they were still there. They signed me out at about and I still had to go to the public prosecutor's office to see where they had the [fetal remains]. There I had to do another interview with who-knows who. He said that I couldn't leave because they might need me for another declaration. I said that I just wanted to be with my family.From 10 o'clock in the morning until 6 o'clock at night, they finally let us out. My sister says that when they came [to my home] to inspect the bathroom, they measured it, they looked through the trash, they collected water from the waste-pipe, to see if there were remains of blood. Look at the difference [from when I declared against my husband]!
In total, Daz was questioned for more than fifteen hours though ultimately was not charged with a crime.
October 29, 2013
Battlefield 4 is a first-person shootervideo game developed by video game developerEA DICE and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released in October 2013 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; then later in November for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Battlefield 4 was met with positive reception. It was praised for its multiplayer mode, gameplay and graphics, but was also criticized for its short and shallow single-player campaign mode, and for its numerous bugs and glitches. It was a commercial success, selling over 7 million copies.
The game's heads-up display (HUD) is composed of two compact rectangles. The lower left-hand corner features a mini-map and compass for navigation, and a simplified objective notice above it; the lower right includes a compact ammo counter and health meter. The top right displays kill notifications of all players in-game. On the Windows version of the game, the top left features a chat window when in multiplayer. The mini-map, as well as the main game screen, shows symbols denoting three kinds of entities: blue for allies, green for squadmates, and orange for enemies, this applies to all interactivity on the battlefield. Battlefield 4 options also allow colour-blind players to change the on-screen colour indicators to: tritanomaly, deuteranomaly and protanomaly.
Weapon customisation is expansive and encouraged. Primary, secondary and melee weapons can all be customised with weapon attachments and camouflage 'skins'. Most weapons also have a default setting for different firing modes (e.g. semi-automatic, automatic fire), allowing the player to adapt to the environment they find themselves in. They can "spot" targets (marking their positions to the player's team) in the single-player campaign (a first in the Battlefield franchise) as well as in multiplayer. The game's bullet-dropping-system has been significantly enhanced, forcing the player to change the way they play medium to long distance combat. In addition, players have more combat capabilities, such as countering melee attacks from the front while standing or crouching, shooting with their sidearm while swimming, and diving underwater to avoid enemy detection. Standard combat abilities are still current including, reloading whilst sprinting, unlimited sprint, prone and vaulting.
The single-player campaign has several differences from the main multiplayer component. For the most part, the player must traverse mini-sandbox-style levels, in some cases using vehicles, like tanks and boats, to traverse the environment. As the player character, Recker, the player can use two campaign-only functions: the Engage command and the tactical binocular. The Engage command directs Recker's squadmates, and occasionally other friendly units, to attack any hostiles in Recker's line of sight. The tactical binocular is similar to a laser-designator, in the sense that it allows the player to identify friendly and enemy units, weapon stashes, explosives, and objectives in the field. By identifying enemies, the player can make them visible without using the visor, making them easier to mark for their teammates. At one point, Recker will briefly lose the tactical visor, forcing them to only use the Engage command to direct his squadmates on a limited number of enemies.
The campaign features assignments that require specific actions and unlock weapons for use in multiplayer upon completion. Collectible weapons return along with the introduction of collectible dog tags which can be used in multiplayer. Weapon crates are found throughout all levels, allowing players to obtain ammo and switch weapons. While crates hold default weapons, collectible weapons may be used whenever they are acquired and level-specific weapons may be used once a specific mission assignment has been completed by obtaining enough points in a level.
Battlefield 4's multiplayer contains three playable factions—the United States, China, and Russia—fighting against each other, in up to 64-player matches on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (24-Player on Xbox 360 and PS3). A newly reintroduced "Commander Mode", last seen in Battlefield 2142, gives one player on each team a real-time strategy-like view of the entire map and the ability to give orders to teammates. Also, the Commander can observe the battle through the eyes of the players on the battlefield, deploying vehicle and weapon drops to "keep the war machinery going", and order in missile strikes on hostile targets. A spectator mode is included, enabling players to spectate others in first or third person, as well as use a free camera to pan around the map from any angle.
On June 10, 2013, at E3, DICE featured the map "Siege of Shanghai", pitting the People's Liberation Army against the U.S. Marine Corps. The gameplay showcased Commander Mode; new weapons and vehicles; and the "Levolution" gameplay mechanic. The video displays the last of these at various points, including: a player destroying a support pillar to trap an enemy tank above it; and a large skyscraper (with an in-game objective on the top floor) collapsing in the center of the map, kicking up a massive dust cloud throughout the map and bringing the objective closer to ground level. Levolution also includes effects such as shooting a fire extinguisher to fill the room with obscuring clouds, car alarms going off when stepped on, metal detectors going off once passed through, or cutting the power in a room to reduce others' visibility.
The maps included in the main game are "Siege of Shanghai", "Paracel Storm", "Zavod 311", "Lancang Dam", "Flood Zone", "Rogue Transmission", "Hainan Resort", "Dawnbreaker", "Operation Locker" and "Golmud Railway". The game modes on offer include Battlefield's Conquest, Domination and Rush; while adding two new game modes called Obliteration and Defuse, along with traditional game modes such as Team Deathmatch and Squad Deathmatch.
The four kits from Battlefield 3 are present in Battlefield 4 with minor tweaks. The Assault kit must now wait for the defibrillator to recharge after reviving teammates in quick succession. The Engineer kit uses PDWs, and carbines are available to all kits. The support kit has access to the new remote mortar and the XM25 allowing for indirect suppressive fire. The Recon kit is now more mobile and is able to equip carbines, designated marksman rifles (DMRs), and C4. Sniping mechanics also give with the ability to zero in your sights (set an aiming distance), and equip more optics and accessories than previous Battlefield games. The Recon kit is still able to utilize the MAV, T-UGS, and the Radio Beacon.
New vehicles have also been introduced. With the addition of the Chinese faction, new vehicles include the Type 99 MBT, the ZFB-05 armored car, and the Z-10W attack helicopter. Jets have also been rebalanced and put into two classes, "attack" and "stealth". The attack jets focus is mainly air-to-ground capabilities, while stealth jets focus mainly on air-to-air combat. Another vehicle added in Battlefield 4 is the addition of the RCB and DV-15 Interceptor attack boats, which function as heavily armed aquatic assault craft.
Customization options have also been increased in Battlefield 4, with all new camos available for every gun. A new "adaptive" camo has been introduced that can adapt the camo to the map being played without the player having to change camos every map. Camos can now be applied to jets, helicopters, tanks, transport vehicles and guns. Previously this option was introduced to parachutes but has been removed, emblems are now printed onto parachutes.
Setting and characters
Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place during the fictional "War of 2020", six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have been running at a record high, due to a conflict between the two countries that has been running for the last six years. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government. If he succeeds, Chang will have full support from the Russians, helping spark war between China and the United States.
The player controls Sgt. Daniel "Reck" Recker, second-in-command of a U.S. Marine Corps squad callsigned "Tombstone". His squadmates include squad leader SSgt. William Dunn, Heavy Weapon Specialist SSgt. Kimble "Irish" Graves, and field medic Sgt. Clayton "Pac" Pakowski. Early in the Campaign, Tombstone is joined by CIA operative Laszlo W. Kovic, originally known as "Agent W." from Battlefield 3's Campaign; and Chinese Secret Service agent Huang "Hannah" Shuyi. The Campaign also sees the return of Dimitri "Dima" Mayakovsky from Battlefield 3's Campaign—still alive after the nuclear detonation in Paris six years ago, and under the Chinese military's custody for unknown reasons.
Set in 2020, six years after the events in New York, Battlefield 4's Campaign primarily follows chronological order, and permanently casts the player as Recker. In the beginning, set in Baku, Azerbaijan, Tombstone Squad—consisting of Recker, Dunn, Irish, and Pac—escapes the city, with vital intelligence in hand and Russian special forces in hot pursuit. The ensuing chase sees the squad trapped in a car plunging into the sea. Dunn, trapped between the seats and already critically wounded, gives Recker his revolver and orders him to shoot out the windshield. Reluctantly, Recker shoots the window, and Dunn drowns as the others escape. As Tombstone swims to the surface, the player hears their commanding officer, Captain Garrison, talking over the phone about the intel: that Admiral Chang is planning a military coup d'état, and if he succeeds, he will gain full Russian support, confirming an earlier report from an asset in China. Tombstone returns to the USS Valkyrie, an amphibious assault carrier en route to China's eastern coast. On board, Garrison informs them of the assassination of Chinese presidential candidate Jin Jié, and that Chang convinced the Chinese that the United States was responsible.
Garrison sends Tombstone, with Recker as squad leader, on a covert mission in Shanghai to rescue three VIPs: Kovic, Hannah, and Hannah's husband. With Tombstone's help, Kovic takes his fellow VIPs to the Valkyrie by helicopter. Meanwhile, Tombstone takes a civilian tourist boat from the shore, just as an electromagnetic pulse fries all electric equipment in the area. Realizing that there are other civilian refugees stranded on boats around them, and against Pac's protests, Irish leads them to the Valkyrie. Aboard the Valkyrie, they head for the USS Titan, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that can assist them. Upon sighting the Titan, the Valkyrie finds it critically damaged by Chang's forces. Garrison orders Tombstone, with Kovic as acting squad leader to scour the wreckage of the Titan for the vital ships voyage data recorder before it sinks. Tombstone recovers a hard drive with data from before the Chinese missile attack and fight their way out against boarding Chinese soldiers. The Titan buckles under its own weight while sinking and splits in two, forcing Tombstone to jump ship. Making their way back to the Valkyrie with a hijacked assault boat, they find the carrier under siege by Chinese forces. They board it to repel the Chinese assault. Kovic is critically injured during the engagement, and puts Recker back in charge of Tombstone before he dies. Tombstone then clears the bridge and rescues Hannah's husband and Garrison.
Garrison briefs Recker and Pac on the upcoming assault on the Chinese-controlled Singapore airfield to destroy Chinese air superiority while their air forces are grounded by a storm. Hannah volunteers to join Tombstone, much to Irish's chagrin, as he wasn't involved in the briefing himself. The Marines successfully assault the beach and lead an advance towards the airfield, losing most of their forces in the process. While crossing a bridge to the airfield, Recker is pinned behind by a car blown by the strong winds and tries to break free with the help of Tombstone, to no avail. A large freighter crashes into the bridge, throwing Tombstone into the sea below. They survive and make their way to the airfield via a sewer. After Pac fires the signal flare, Tombstone attempts to evacuate the area using an enemy vehicle, but they are knocked out of their vehicle when the missiles hit, apparently killing Pac. Hannah seemingly betrays the squad, bringing the Chinese soldiers to capture Tombstone; this infuriates Irish, but neither he nor Recker can stop the soldiers from incapacitating them.
Recker and Irish are then taken to a prison in the Kunlun Mountains by the Chinese military. There, the two Marines are interrogated about their mission in Shanghai, with Chang personally watching, before being thrown into cells. Recker is awoken by "Dima", a Russian prisoner suffering from radiation poisoning. Recker helps Dima release the other prisoners, starting a mass riot throughout the prison and reuniting him with Irish. Although the prison guard is overrun, Chinese military arrive and launch an assault. Recker and Irish hold them off long enough for Dima to open the prison gates, only to be caught by Hannah and other soldiers. Hannah shoots the soldiers holding Recker, Irish and Dima at gunpoint; she explains that she had been tasked to protect Jin Jié, who had been posing as her husband. The group fight their way through the Kunlun Mountains to a cable car, which goes down the mountain. The tram is then shot down by an enemy helicopter, and the impact kills Dima.
Forced to continue on foot for two days, Tombstone makes their way down the mountain, forced to hunt for food to survive. They find a jeep and drive to Tashgar, a city in Western China with a US military presence, under siege by Russian forces. While driving, Hannah explains that she'd brought Jin Jié to meet her family to give them hope, but that the next day, Chang's army came and killed them all; this mortifies Irish, and he apologizes to Hannah. They eventually find Major Greenland, who commands the remainder of U.S. ground forces in Tashgar. She states that the mobile anti-air that the Russians have are causing them to have a disadvantage. Tombstone volunteers to demolish the dam to flood the area, destroying the Chinese-Russian forces in exchange for a ride back to the Valkyrie. They successfully complete their task, and are sent to the Suez Canal.
They are picked up by a U.S. C-130 using the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, and are then paradropped to the Valkyrie, which is sailing blindly into Admiral Chang's forces. Tombstone clears the deck of boarding Chinese forces and find Garrison, who is holed up in a medical bay with Jin Jié, other survivors, and Pac (who had survived Singapore.) When Chinese forces reach the door to the medical bay, Jin Jié convinces Recker to let him show his face to the soldiers, as they had been fighting under the illusion that Jin Jié had been killed. Recker opens the door and is knocked down, but Jié calms the tension between the three forces showing his face to the Chinese soldiers, who stand down and celebrate the news of their leader's return and rush to spread the news to other Chinese forces on the ship.
However, upon hearing this news, Chang barrages the Valkyrie with his warship, hoping to "bury the truth and everyone with it". With no ordnance to strike back, Recker, Irish and Hannah volunteer to manually destroy it with explosives. Driving a boat to the warship's blind spot, the trio set the remote charges and use grappling guns to bring them to safety under the Suez Canal Bridge before detonating the explosives. Unfortunately, the remote detonation fails, requiring manual replacement of the charges. Hannah volunteers to set a new charge, but Irish stops her, volunteering to do it himself because China will need Hannah. Recker—and the player—is forced to take two options: either do nothing as Chang's warship obliterates the Valkyrie, thus killing Pac, Garrison and Jin Jié; or send either Hannah or Irish back down to set the explosives. As soon as the detonator lights green, Recker detonates the charges, destroying Chang's ship but killing whoever had gone down to make it possible. A U.S. rescue helicopter then picks up Recker and his remaining teammate, reporting to Garrison that one member is missing in action. During the credits, the player hears a new dialogue between Irish and Hannah, discussing their pasts, and how they have to keep moving forward with "no fucking regrets".
Electronic Arts president Frank Gibeau confirmed the company's intention to release a sequel to Battlefield 3 during a keynote at the University of Southern California where he said "There is going to be a Battlefield 4". Afterwards, an EA spokesperson told IGN: "Frank was speaking broadly about the Battlefield brand—a brand that EA is deeply passionate about and a fan community that EA is committed to." On the eve of Battlefield 3's launch, EA Digital Illusions CE told Eurogamer it was the Swedish studio's hope that it would one day get the opportunity to make Battlefield 4. "This feels like day one now," executive producer Patrick Bach said. "It's exciting. The whole Frostbite 2 thing has opened up a big landscape ahead of us so we can do whatever we want."
Battlefield 4 is built on the new Frostbite 3 engine. The new Frostbite engine enables more realistic environments with higher resolution textures and particle effects. A new "networked water" system is also being introduced, allowing all players in the game to see the same wave at the same time. Tessellation has also been overhauled. An Alpha Trial commenced on June 17, 2013 with invitations randomly emailed to Battlefield 3 players the day prior. The trial ran for two weeks and featured the Siege of Shanghai map with all of its textures removed, essentially making it a "whitebox" test.
Due to mixed reception of the two-player Co-op Mode in Battlefield 3, DICE decided to omit the mode from Battlefield 4 to focus on improving both the campaign and multiplayer components instead.
AMD and DICE have partnered for AMD's Mantle API to be used on Battlefield 4. The goal was to boost performance on AMD GCNRadeon graphic cards providing a higher level of hardware-optimized performance than was previously possible with OpenGL or DirectX. Initial tests of AMD's Mantle showed it was an effective enhancement for slower processors.
DICE released an Open Beta for the game that was available on Windows (64 bit only), Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It featured the game-modes Domination, Conquest and Obliteration which were playable on the map Siege of Shanghai. The Open Beta started on October 4, 2013 and ended on October 15, 2013.
Technical issues and legal troubles
Upon release, Battlefield 4 was riddled with major technical bugs, glitches and crashes across all platforms. EA and DICE soon began releasing several patches for the game on all systems and DICE later revealed that work on all of its future games (including Mirror's Edge, Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefield 4 DLC) would be halted until Battlefield 4 was working properly. In December 2013, more than a month after the game's initial release, an EA representative said, "We know we still have a ways to go with fixing the game – it is absolutely our #1 priority. The team at DICE is working non-stop to update the game."
EA President Peter Moore announced in January 2014 that the company did not see any negative impact to sales as a result of the myriad of technical issues. He said any negative impacts to sales were actually due to the transition from current-generation (PS3, Xbox 360) to next-generation consoles (PS4, Xbox One), and that other video game franchises like FIFA and Need for Speed were experiencing similar effects. As a reward for players who bought the game early and continued to play it despite all of the bugs and glitches, DICE rewarded players in February 2014 with all-month-long, free multi-player content such as: bronze and silver Battlepacks, XP boosts and events, camouflage skins, shortcut bundles for weapons and additional content for Premium members.
Because of the widespread bugs and glitches that were present, EA became the target of multiple law firms. The firm Holzer Holzer & Fistel, LLC launched an investigation into EA's public statements made between July 24 and December 4, 2013 to determine if the company intentionally misled its investors with information pertaining to, "the development and sales of the Company's Battlefield 4 video game and the game's impact on EA's revenue and projects moving forward." Shortly thereafter, the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP similarly filed a class action lawsuit against EA for releasing false or misleading statements about the quality of Battlefield 4. A second class action lawsuit was announced only days later from the firm Bower Piven, which alleged that EA violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by not properly informing its investors about the major bugs and glitches during development that may have prevented the investors from making an informed decision about Battlefield 4. Bower Piven sought out investors who lost more than US$200,000 to become the lead plaintiff. In October 2014, Judge Susan Illston dismissed one of the class action suits' original case on the grounds that EA did not intentionally mislead investors, instead its pre-release claims about Battlefield 4 were a "vague statement of corporate optimism," "an inactionable opinion" and "puffery."
Six months after the initial release of the game, in April 2014, DICE released a program called Community Test Environment (CTE), which let a limited number of PC gamers play a different version of Battlefield 4 that was designed to test new patches and updates before giving them a wide-release. One of the major patches tested was an update to the game's netcode, specifically the "tickrate," which is how frequently the game and server would update, measured in cycles per second. Because of the size of Battlefield 4 in terms of information, DICE initially chose to have a low tickrate. However, the low tickrate resulted in a number of issues including damage registration and "trade kills." The CTE program tested the game at a higher tickrate, among other common problems, and began rolling out patches in mid-2014.
In October 2014, nearly a full year after the official release with major updates still being put out, DICE LA producer David Sirland said the company acknowledged that the release of Battlefield 4 "absolutely" damaged the trust of the franchise's fanbase. Sirland said that the shaky release of Battlefield 4 caused the company to reevaluate their release model, and plan on being more transparent and offer earlier beta tests with future installments, namely (at the time) with Battlefield Hardline (2015). Sirland also said: "We still probably have a lot of players who won't trust us to deliver a stable launch or a stable game. I don't want to say anything because I want to do. I want them to look at what we're doing and what we are going to do and that would be my answer. I think we have to do things to get them to trust us, not say things to get them to trust us. Show by doing."
In March 2013, Electronic Arts opened the Battlefield 4 website with three official teasers, entitled "Prepare 4 Battle". Each hints at three kinds of battlespace: air, land and sea. EA then continued to release teaser trailers leading up to the unveiling of Battlefield 4 at the Game Developers Conference on March 26, 2013. The following day, Battlefield 4's first gameplay trailer, which doubled as a showcase for the Frostbite 3 engine was released. Shortly thereafter, EA listed the game for pre-order on Origin for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360; however, EA excluded any mention of the next generation consoles.
In July 2012, Battlefield 4 was announced when EA advertised on their Origin client that those who pre-ordered Medal of Honor: Warfighter (either Digital Deluxe or the limited edition) would receive early access to the Battlefield 4 beta, this has since been expanded to include any Battlefield 3 Premium owners, and any Origin users who pre-purchase Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe Edition. Although players who qualify for access in more than one way will only be granted one beta pass for their account and is non transferable to other players. The "Exclusive" beta started on October 1, 2013, with the open beta that went live on October 4. The beta will be on three platforms, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 and features the Siege of Shanghai map on the Conquest game mode.
DICE revealed more Battlefield 4 content in the E3 2013 event at June 10, 2013, such as multiplayer modes, and allowed participants to play the game at the same event. More information was released at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany, such as the "Paracel Storm" multiplayer map and Battlefield 4 Premium. Battlefield 4 Premium includes five digital expansion packs featuring new maps and in-game content. Two-weeks early access to all expansion packs. Personalization options including camos, paints, emblems, dog tags and more. Priority position in server queues. Weekly updates with new content. Double XP events, 12 Battle Packs. Battle Packs are digital packages that contain a combination of new weapon accessories, dog tags, knives, XP boosts, and character customization items, three are included with all pre-orders of the Origin Digital Deluxe edition. The service will also transfer your Premium membership from Xbox 360 to Xbox One or PS3 to PS4. Premium membership pre-orders started the day the service was announced (August 21, 2013). DICE has also announced that if you purchase the game for a current generation system (PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360) you will be able to trade it in for a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One version of the game for as little as $10. Additionally all PlayStation 3 and 4 copies will include a code in the box to redeem a digital copy on the PlayStation Store.
An important strategy of DICE'smarket strategy to promote Battlefield 4 was the series of TV and web advertisements entitled Only in Battlefield 4. Each one of these TV spots was narrated by a player of Battlefield 4 describing one of the unique experiences they encountered, along with a re-creation of the event using gameplay footage. These advertisements highlighted the free-form nature of the upcoming game, such as the destructibility of the environment and the dynamic nature of the game's combat engine. These events included things such as demonstrating the new Levolution feature, upgrades to gameplay, and unscripted moments that cannot occur in other games' multiplayer mode.
Due to poor reception from gamers, on May 30, 2013, EA discontinued the online pass for all existing and future EA games including Battlefield 4.
A companion application was also released for iOS and Android.
Battlefield 4 featured a total of five downloadable content (DLC) packs that included new maps and additions to gameplay. All five DLC packs were available two weeks prior to their scheduled release by players who had purchased Premium. Once support for Battlefield 4 Premium ended, DICE announced all future DLC would be free.
On May 21, 2013, DICE unveiled Battlefield 4: China Rising on a Battlelog post and stated that it would include four new maps (Silk road, Altai Range, Dragon Pass and Guilin peaks) on the Chinese mainland, ten new assignments, new vehicles, as well as the Air Superiority gametype. It is available to those who pre-ordered the game at no extra cost. It was released to premium players on December 3, 2013 followed by a general release on December 17, 2013.
On June 10, 2013, DICE unveiled Battlefield 4: Second Assault during the Microsoft Press Conference at E3 2013. It was announced that it would be the first expansion pack to be released for Battlefield 4 and would first debut on the Xbox One. It was released on November 22, 2013, the same day the Xbox One was launched. The expansion features the return of four fan-favorite maps from Battlefield 3 and introduces Capture the Flag as a new gametype. On February 18, 2014, Second Assault became available as Premium exclusive for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC. It became available for non-Premium users on March 4, 2014.
During January 29 – February 28, 2015, the expansion was free of charge to all EA Access subscribers.
On August 20, 2013, DICE unveiled Battlefield 4: Naval Strike at Gamescom 2013. It involves dynamic combat on four new maps taking place in the South China Sea and features a new mode called "Carrier Assault" inspired by Battlefield 2142. The original release date was planned for March 25, 2014 for premium members and April 8, 2014 for non-premium members but was delayed several hours before release for Xbox One and PC without a new release date being set. On March 26, 2014, Naval Strike was released for premium members on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360. The Xbox One version was released for premium members on March 27, 2014, and the PC version was released on March 31, 2014.
At Gamescom 2013 DICE unveiled Battlefield 4: Dragon's Teeth. Its maps take place in war-torn cities locked down by the People's Liberation Army. Dragon's Teeth was released on July 15, 2014 for Battlefield 4 Premium Members. For Non-Premium members it was released 2 weeks later on July 29, 2014. A new game mode included in this Dragon's Teeth DLC is called "Chain Link". There are four new maps included in Dragon's Teeth called "Lumphini Garden, Pearl Market, Propaganda and Sunken Dragon". There are 11 new Assignments and a new assault drone called the "R.A.W.R" that can be found on those four maps.
On August 20, 2013, DICE unveiled Battlefield 4: Final Stand at Gamescom 2013. Final Stand focuses on the conclusion of the in-game war of 2020. It includes four new maps and "secret prototype weapons and vehicles". The four maps that are included are "Operation Whiteout", "Giants of Karelia", "Hammerhead" and "Hangar 21". New weapons include the Rorsch X1 and some gadgets including the DS-3 and XD-1 Accipiter, as well as a hovercraft tank based on the Levkov 1937 Hovercraft MBT. It was released for Battlefield 4 Premium members on November 18, 2014, 00:01 and for non-Premium Battlefield 4 players on December 2, 2014, 00:01.
The Weapons Crate DLC was announced by DICE on March 30, 2015 as a free DLC. The DLC added five weapons into the game: the Mare's Leg, AN-94, Groza-1, Groza-4 and the L86A2 along with the gamemode from Battlefield 3 'Gun Master' and many other stat changes. It was released in an alpha form in the Community Test Environment. It was released along with the Spring 2015 Patch on May 26, 2015.
In August 2015, DICE announced the expansion pack Night Operations, a free DLC pack. The first map to be released was Zavod: Graveyard shift, a night time version of the Battlefield 4 map Zavod 311, it was released with the Summer 2015 Patch. Two other night maps were also in development, a night time version of the map Siege of Shanghai and Golmud Railway, these maps were playable in the Battlefield 4 Community Test Environment but would remain unreleased as further development on Battlefield 4 ended. All three maps were developed by DICE LA and tested in the Community Test Environment with player feedback taken on board.
Community Operations was released on October 27, 2015, a free DLC pack. The map, Outbreak, is a medium-sized with lots of vegetation such as trees, shrubs, and grass for ambushing the enemies within. There are limited amounts of heavy vehicles such as tanks, LAVs and no anti-air vehicles. The map does not include air dominance such as stealth jets, scout helicopters and attack aircraft. This map was created by DICE Los Angeles and the Battlefield 4 gaming community. The update contains major changes to weapons and vehicles.
Legacy Operations was released on December 15, 2015, a free DLC pack. The map is an updated version of the Battlefield 2 map, Dragon Valley. It was released alongside the Winter Patch content update.
Premium is a downloadable pass that offers all of the downloadable content for a discounted price. Premium offers a range of personalization options and items, such as exclusive dog tags or camos. Premium contributes to the game by offering select days in which special events take place only for premium members.
Battlefield 4 received positive reviews from critics. GameSpot's Chris Watters gave praise to Obliteration Mode and the multiplayer elements but was otherwise unimpressed with the campaign. IGN's Mitch Dyer stated that "Battlefield 4 is a greatest hits album of DICE's multiplayer legacy" for same versions.PC Gamer's Evan Lahti stated that although the game strongly resembles Battlefield 3 it still manages to remain "a visually and sonically satisfying, reliably intense FPS". Commander Mode and the diverse map selection within multiplayer were also praised as being good additions to the game. Joystiq's David Hinkle said that the game "drops players into a sandbox and unhooks all tethers, loosing scores of soldiers to squad up and take down the opposition however they choose". Hinkle praised the campaign elements, but found the multiplayer to not hold any surprises.GameZone's Lance Liebl stated "Your success in Battlefield is up to you and how well you work as a team. And it's one of the most rewarding games I've played. Battlelog needs some refinement, and there's still way too many crashes, but the multiplayer more than makes up for all of it."Machinima's Lawrence Sonntag praised the Levolution feature and the multiplayer mode.
However several reviewers noted that the multiplayer part of the game had been released with a lot of game breaking bugs on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (client or server crashes, lag).Polygon reviewed the game the day of its release, and gave it 7.5, then later downgraded their score to 4 after acknowledging that the game "was still barely playable for many players".
DICE later acknowledged the issues with the multiplayer part of the game and said they were working to fix them, and that they would not work on expansions or future projects until the game problems were resolved. Despite this promise, the game's second expansion was released while numerous recurring problems had yet to be resolved.
Ban in China
In late December 2013, shortly after the release of the "China Rising" DLC pack, China banned the sale of Battlefield 4, requesting stores and online vendors to remove the game and encouraging those who have already purchased the game to remove it from their consoles and/or PCs. The game was viewed as a national security risk in the form of a cultural invasion as the DLC includes four maps on the Chinese mainland.
An editorial from the China National Defense Newspaper (a subsidiary of the PLA Daily) published in December 2013 criticized the game for discrediting China's national sovereignty, and stated that while in the past the Soviet Union would often be used as an imaginary enemy in video games, the shift has recently turned to China.
During the first week of sales in the United Kingdom, Battlefield 4 became the second best-selling game on all available formats, only behind Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The game's sales were down 69% compared to 2011's Battlefield 3. EA blamed the fall in demand on uncertainty caused by the upcoming transition to eighth generation consoles.
According to NPD Group figures, Battlefield 4 was the second best-selling game of November in the United States, only behind Call of Duty: Ghosts. In February 2014, EA announced that the Premium service for the game had sold more than 1.6 million copies. In May 2014, the game had sold more than 7 million copies.
According to EA, Battlefield 4 received awards from over 30 gaming publications Prior to its release.Battlefield 4 appeared on several year-end lists of the best First-person shooter games of 2013, receiving wins from 18th Satellite Awards, and GamesRadar.