There is, as we speak, a human rights crisis happening in Mexico that’s been WAY under-reported. It’s not easy to talk about, it’s not pleasant to hear about, but it’s an essential conversation to have so that the situation can end as fast as possible.
What’s happening is an explosion in gender-based violence in the country that has lead to an escalating wave of women being killed and kidnapped. It’s gotten so bad that there’s a word for what’s happening: In spanish, “feminicidio.” In English, “femicide.”
“Femicides are a pandemic in Mexico,” Ana Guezmes, a representative for United Nations Women, told Al-Jazeera America. One coalition dedicated to reporting the crimes against women, the National Citizen Femicide Observatory, estimates that six women are murdered every day.
What’s behind the horrifying uptick in violence? It’s complicated but it’s a mix of social structures that normalize violence against women and a dysfunctional justice system. The victims of femicide are usually poor single young women or teenagers. They’re preyed upon by men who abduct victims from the street, force them into cars, rape them, and then dispose of the bodies.
According to Mario de la Luz, the head of the National Citizen Femicide Observatory, these crimes are distinguishable by the extreme violence involved.
“Hate is what marks these crimes,” he told Al-Jazeera America. “In a macho society like Mexico, authorities are always questioning what the women did. What was she wearing? Was she sexually active? This helps the impunity and lack of action.”
“The parents are scared to give photos and details to the police, because that can make them vulnerable to extortionists, who say, ‘We have her,’ when in fact they don’t,” de la Luz continued. “Corrupt authorities often say, ‘If you speak out, your case won’t advance.’”
It’s a chilling epidemic, and one that the Obervatory is trying to work to publicize, so that authorities will be forced to take action against it. The group erects pink crosses at the sites of these murders and helps the families of murdered women navigate the legal system, in the hopes of cracking down on the rampant violence. It is a chilling situation, and it is one that we just cannot ignore.