About a week ago, I was driving from my apartment back to my parents' house for a visit. I listened to the radio as I typically do, and while waiting to hear about the weather, an advertisement came on the iHeart station regarding a podcast that had recently been released. I had never really been into podcasts, but when I heard that this one covered unsolved murders, I decided it was worth hearing out the ad. The podcast is called "Forgotten: The Women of Juárez," and not only did it cover unsolved murders -- it covered the unsolved murders of hundreds of women who had gone missing and turned up dead since the 1990s. At the next stop, I pulled out my phone and immediately downloaded every episode. I had a gut-wrenching feeling that something horrible was happening to these women, and my blazing feminist heart wanted to find out just what.
I'll spare you the sickening details, but Ciudad Juárez is a Mexican border city that lays against El Paso, Texas. Known to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world for women, you can walk down the streets and see hundreds upon hundreds of missing person signs depicting young women, many of which having a pink square with a black cross placed on them. These symbols have been placed on these posters by a group of the victims' grieving mothers as a sign of remembrance of all the young women who have fallen victim to the dangerous city, the young ladies who have gone missing only to later be found brutally murdered and their bodies stranded in the desert. And to serve as a warning to the women who walk the streets: you are not safe here.
The gruesome details drove me mad, knowing that Mexican authorities were doing little to nothing about it was causing me to lose sleep. How could police officers and government officials sit back and just let the missing person reports roll in? Didn't they have wives or daughters? Couldn't they understand that the families of the victims were grieving, only to never receive answers or closure?
As it turns out, this was not just a trend in crime throughout the 1990's and early 2000's -- the femicide continues, and has actually worsened throughout the years. In 2016 alone, an estimated seven women were murdered in gender-related crimes every single day. Just last month, the rate of killings of women surged as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador cut funding to women's shelters.
Whether it be cases of organized crime, abductions for sex trafficking, or repeated domestic abuse that later turns to homicide, authorities make no effort to save their women.
So many people had their hand in the killings. Scapegoat after scapegoat took the fall for hundreds of killings, many of which were impossible for the suspects to have committed. Victims were shot to death, raped, strangled, bludgeoned, stabbed, mutilated, breasts cut off, and shapes carved into their backs. It was obvious that no one person or group conducted all of these murders -- it was a war on women.Diana Washington Valdez, a renown journalist for the El Paso Times who spent a great deal of time covering the stories and doing some investigative work into the lives of the victims and their families, wrote a book about the murders in Juárez, "The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women." She said that eventually, the death threats and dangers of covering the crimes became too much, and she has not returned to Juárez in several years. She says it's because there is someone, or perhaps a group of people, who don't want the crimes to be solved.
Ernesta Enríquez Fierro, the mother of 15-year-old victim Adriana asks, "Is being a woman a crime?"