/ Updated 
By Reuters

In a bold response to the gender-driven killing of 11 women, the Mexican state has handed down an unprecedented sentence of 697 years in prison to five men in northern Mexico. On top of the prison time of nearly 700 years each, those sentenced also have to pay a total of 9 million pesos ($550,000) in damages to the families of the victims, whose bodies were found in 2012.

The historic sentence is the longest-ever given for a femicide, the killing of a woman due to her gender.

In 2008, Ciudad Juarez recorded a woman missing each day, a story that reverberated around the world as the plight of the women and their families made regular headlines.

It is believed that 3,892 women were murdered in Mexico between 2012 and 2013, but only 16 percent of cases were investigated as femicides, according to the National Citizen Femicide Observatory.

Scientific evidence was the basis of the sentence, said an official at the attorney general's office in the state of Chihuahua, home of the border city of Ciudad Juarez.

In the past, authorities have prosecuted gender-driven killings but have not always handed down long prison sentences due to the ambiguity around declaring killings as femicides, as well as the overall high rate of crimes that go unpunished in Mexico.

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