The feminicides in Ciudad Juárez are once again out of control
- So far in 2017, 86 women homicides have been recorded – a 33.7% increase from 57 in 2016. 913 women have been murdered since 2010
A young girl, Nahomí Galindo’s life has been taken. Two hands tightened hard around her neck until she could no longer breathe. The motivation behind this murder was a man’s inability to rape this young girl. The man hated her for being a 12-year-old girl who would not submit to him. Unlike what he had done with Nahomí’s younger sisters, 10 and 11 years old, who he beat and raped. Last Wednesday morning, Ciudad Juárez, although accustomed to violent news, awoke horrified at the brutal attack on these young girls, that at around two o’clock in the morning, had been asleep in their beds.
The following day, the state governor, Javier Corral, visited the cotton field – where the bodies of 8 women were found on the 6th of November 2001 – to place 53 marble plaques in memory of the victims of femicide in the city. The Governor stated, “It is a state policy to fight all types of violence against girls and women.”Nahomí is femicide number 83, out of a total of 86 that have been registered so far in 2017. The year is still not over and already it has exceeded by 33.7%, from the 57 who were murdered in 2016. She is only one part of the tragic statistics: Since 2010, 913 women have been murdered.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the city towards the east, a woman was shot dead inside her home. Which until this moment, she remains unidentified. Less than 24 hours later, civil society groups and relatives of missing persons and victims of femicides came together to demand justice in the very same cotton field – in order to call for remembrance of these deaths and to remind everyone: that to be a woman in this city is all the reason needed to be murdered.
At the same time, around ten o’clock in the morning on one of the roads that circle the city, a woman’s body appeared wrapped in a blanket right under the gigantic caption, “The bible is the truth, read it!” on the most emblematic hill of the city – Last night the woman was identified as 21-year-old, mother of one, Vanessa Moreli Luna, who had been reported missing the day before.
The same activist group and relatives of victims of femicide travelled to Praxedis, a town on the road that runs parallel to the River Bravo gathering at El Navajo creek, a place where the remains of 26 woman have been found since 2012. They stop at the memorial to the victims who have been identified – 13 pink crosses at the base of the mountains.
As they read each of the names of the women killed this year, a man shot his wife before taking his own life in the north of the city next to the Omega industrial park.
For Imelda Marrufo, director of an organization called “La Red Mesa de Mujeres” (The Table for women network), an organisation which provides legal aid to the families of victims of femicide, the violence crosses all fields, and is maintained by two key axes: the social sphere which reproduces and justifies the aggression against women, and furthermore the criminalizing of victims, and the impunity fostered and rooted in the justice and legal system.
These two key factors bring about violence against women because women are seen as objects. This is what, for Marrufo, makes it difficult “to separate sexual aggression and femicide proves to be difficult because there are often cases in which the first finishes unfortunately in the second. -”
Ciudad Juárez ranked second after Ecatapec and above Acapulco in the list of femicides provided by the city. These are the three most dangerous places in the country for women’s safety. However, Juárez is at the top of the list for reports of rape, at least in the data we have in the first six months of the year.
Ciudad Juárez is the region in this country that has the most reports of rape: At least 220 women a day report they have been raped. That is one every 20 hours to be exact.
However, the state that has the most reports registered was the state of Mexico, with 989 incident files in the first half of the year. Chihuahua follows with 486 cases. Then Chiacea with 355 – according to the data from the Secretary for Public Security.
As far as cities go, Ciudad Juárez is followed by Tijuana, where there have been 132 reports of sexual attacks such as rape. There have also been 131 reports in Chihuahua capital.
Hours after the attack on Nahomí and her sisters, a woman came forward to say that she too had been assaulted by the same man – disclosed the spokesperson for the specialized women’s prosecutor’s office. The woman did not want to make an official report of rape but offered to help in identifying the man who was responsible.
The social aspect, that Murrufo referred to, which leads to women being blamed and criticised for what they were wearing, where they were, what they were doing, is what leads us to the fact that 90% of rape is not reported. According to the data by INEGI (National Institute of Statistics and Geography), the dark figure of crimes reaches 93.7%.
This is the context in which, a group of women stop in front of the 13 pink crosses in the El Novajo creek, to release a balloon for every femicide. The 83 names that had been registered up until that moment because they could not have known what was happening throughout the city. A mother without a daughter because she had been snatched from her, clutches the cross crying – the exact place where the remains of Idaly Juache Laguna were located.
In the middle of the city, a broken family hold a vigil for Nahomí, who was choked to death by the fury of a man who was looking to rape her but was unable to do so.
In 25 years, there have been 1,779 femicides in Ciudad Juárez
- In the city there has been a dangerous rise in murders committed against women
Daisy Jazmín García Hernández was a teenage girl, 15 years of age, from Ciudad Juárez, a city known worldwide for its violence against women. She was killed on the 23rd of January, the same day as the 25th anniversary of the start of the femicides.
Local activists claim that between impunity, machismo, endemic violence and the lukewarm measures brought in response, neither the authorities, nor the church, nor the schools, not even their own communities have fulfilled their duty towards women of Juárez, a poorly planned and unsafe city.
The first case of femicide documented was a young girl called Alma Chavira Farel, who was only 13 years of age and whose body was found on the 23rd of January 1993, after she was sexually assaulted and strangled to death. From this began the horror that we now know as femicide.
According to the prosecutor’s office specializing in gender crimes, the body of the 15-year-old had bumps and bruises on the lower part of her back and she died of asphyxiation
The most likely responsible was arrested, who was her uncle, Silverio G. H., Who was 28 years old. He argued that when he had found her, she was already dead, and he only got rid of her remains without feeling “anything”. But Alma was not the first, nor Daisy the last to be killed. In total, eight women met the same fate in January and two more in February.
According to the figures from INEGI (National Institute of Statistics and Geography), the general prosecutor’s office from Chihuahua along with using data from their own data base stated, in the last 25 years a sum of 1,779 woman have been victims of malicious homicides in Ciudad Juárez and the valley of Juárez.
Ivonne Ramírez Ramírez, an activist from Juárez, created a digital map (www.ellastienennombre.org), a map that shows where the victims of femicide have been killed or found since 1993
According to Itzel González, the coordinator of the monitoring and investigating program of la red mesa de mujeres in Ciudad Juárez (The Table for women network), the violence cannot be attributed solely to the lack of actions and resources of the authorities, but also to the lack of strategies of the entire community.
Marisela Ortiz, founder of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Our daughters back home), analyses in “The cycle of femicide violence in Ciudad Juárez”, the different stages of the phenomena.
From 1993 to 1998 they started to find the first mutilated bodies which had been sexually assaulted, on the outskirts of the city. The parents grouped together under the name of “Voces sin Eco” (voices without an echo).
From 1998 to 2004, the main victims were those who worked in the textile industry, who would leave their homes early and return late at night.
In this period the term “feminicide” was coined, by the scholar Marcela Lagarge. The city started to be known for the dead women – las muertas- of Juárez. In the third period, from 2004 to 2010, The organization “La Red Mesa de Mujeres” in Ciudad Juárez was formed.
The stage of women disappearing started in 2008. It was then that the CIDH (Inter-American Human Rights Commission) compelled the state to recognize the phenomenon and to redress the case of the cotton field.
For the fourth stage, from 2010 to 2016, attention shifted to focus more on the drug war between the cartels, but the femicides have continued.
In 2012, at El Navajo creek, in the valley of Juárez, where a total of 28 women had been identified; for 11 of them, five men have been sentenced to a total 697 years in prison.
2017 saw the start of the final stage. According to Julia Fragoso – a researcher at the north frontier college – they have influenced aspects such as poor urban planning, which has expanded without justification, depriving its inhabitants most removed from security/outside a secured area
Following the 96 victims in 2017 and 10 more in 2018, Juárez has recorded a total of 106 murders in this most recent stage, in which a centre for comprehensive care for the women was built by the town government along with the town institution for women to work in a safe corridor.
The women of Ciudad Juárez empower themselves against the rise in femicides.
- The murders of women in this Mexican city bordering the United states has doubled in the last two years. Impunity for these crimes stand at 98% in which the punishment is reduced or non-existent.
Empowered and knowledgeable about their rights, a group of women from Ciudad Juárez defend their lives and their liberty in this Mexican city bordering the United States, sadly known for its violence and femicides, which have doubled in the last few years.
“Last year we ended up with over 90 (murders of women). We have seen an upturn in the violence”, explained the general coordinator of the non-profit organization – La Red Mesa de Mujeres de Ciudad Juárez, – Imelda Marrufo, who highlighted that the “impunity” in the crimes, that is in Mexico 98%, is fuelling the attacks against women.
According to the figures by La Red Mesa de Mujeres, from 1993 to 2017 more than 1,600 women murders have been registered. The worst years were 2010 and 2011, with 191 cases in each year. After a gradual decline, from 2016 to 2017 this figure increased from 57 to 92 in this city with 1.5 million inhabitants.
Not only do women have to face femicide, they also have to deal with disappearances, domestic violence, sexual abuse and trafficking. “It is the fruit of a culture of misogyny”, stated Marrufo.
For women, violence is much more than a statistic. “we always live frightened and afraid for our daughters when they go out alone”, admitted Dora Fermán, a local business woman with four children who is today separated from her abusive ex-husband.
Dora learns “gradually about what violence is” thanks to the workshops that the non-profit organization teaches, during 8 months to women considered leaders in the community, in order to give them tools to help and to give advice to other women in their community.
“What is gender and what is violence?” asks Yadira Cortez, project coordinator of the Non-profit organization, to the 10 women who are following the talk offered in the courtyard of one of the houses of the women.
La Red Mesa de Mujeres have spent 8 years on this project, which has provided training for 360 women in 30 areas with high rates of violence against women.
The process is slow because many of them, despite being strong women, have been “violated by both their partners or community or institutions”, explained Cortés.
“I have learned to have self-esteem, to value myself, to empower myself as a woman and to know how to make decisions without allowing myself to be manipulated”, explains María Elena Mejía, a 55-year-old saleswoman with three children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The class continues and today they listen to the story of Karla Ivonne, a woman murdered by her husband in 2016. Many emotions and feeling arise in this workshop. To conclude the class, the women do various relaxation exercises, they shake themselves and they hug each other.