Femicide is a human rights epidemic that unfortunately occurs across the entire world with many Latin American countries seeing more and more of this problem every day. In Mexico, the disappearance and murder of the women and girls of Juarez have gained internationally known attention. In the country of Mexico’s case, the victims of femicide are a majority of women who are poor factory workers working in maquiladoras. Not only are their societal statuses being targeted but many of these women also share similar traits; such as young, dark skin, thin build, and long brown hair with dark eyes.
These women are most often taken and killed on their way home from work/school or on their way to work at the maquiladoras where they meet a violent torturous death. Women are captured, tortured in numerous ways (ranging from cutting off body parts to mutilation to strangling), being beaten, raped and ultimately murdered, where their bodies are disposed of in locations near and far around Ciudad Juarez and Mexico City. Most commonly the majority killings happen in Ciudad Juarez, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua which was also noted to being the murder capital of the world in 2010. Nearly 63 percent of women in Mexico have suffered from some form of sexual violence. I will be talking about the femicide that has been occurring in Mexico since 1993 with the police and governments response to this issue.
The killings of these women are not as random as we may think and actually have many contributing factors to it. People believe this is happening because of the immense corruption of drugs and large scale profits occurring at the United States/Mexico border, the start of globalization and the opening of the maquiladora factories (under trade deals like NAFTA) who had employed these women, women’s roles in a machismo society, and the men’s lack of respect for women in domestic relationships.
The amount of corruption that takes place in Mexico, especially at its border such as in Ciudad Juarez is allowing the murders that are taking place to continue. Drug trafficking and violence stemming from the drug cartels is a major problem and only contributes to the ongoing corruption of the state of Mexico. After all, the money brought in by the cartels cause them to become rich, powerful, and above the law to law enforcement. The city of Juarez is built upon the corruption of organized crime which is why a lot of law enforcement turns the other way when it comes to the status of these criminals no matter how bad of a crime they have committed.
A lot of the corruption also comes from companies of the United States opening these factories in Mexico for cheaper production by hiring these poor Mexican women for low wages. Maquiladoras were at an all-time high surging production of business in the 1990’s, which was the beginning of what we have seen in the disappearances of the working women. The areas where the maquiladoras are located are impoverished and very dangerous.
Another reason for the murders also deals with the changing of women’s roles in a machismo society. The conservativeness of Ciudad Juarez is prominent in the expectations of traditional male and female roles. With the number of women working as factory workers, this had given the poor women a sense of independence and way to make themselves a living; but the views of male aggressive dominance is an accepted in the Mexican culture of some of these cities.
Patriarchy is the only way these men see their actions as reasonable. The violence against these women is most certainly a skewed perception of men having the control and ultimate power over women just because he is a male. Men in Mexico are the predominantly the providers for their families while the women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands. In a lot of cases, the women taken and killed are kidnapped by unknown men - some whom are serial killers with the intent of raping and murdering women and others are drug cartels who are committing the acts just to do so. Most of the time the women actually know their killers because they are their significantly close to them.
Approximately 66 percent of the men have relationships with the women in some way, whether it be a husband, boyfriend, or family member. Domestic abuse has taken place in their relationships from early on and when there seem to be problems developing in the relationship the men result to violence.
Women are sadly seen as objects in everyday life and people who see a husband hitting a wife in public can be seen as an acceptable act. In the case of Mariana Lima Buendía, she was a victim of the domestic abuse turned femicide by her own husband. After a two-year marriage to Julio Cesar Hernández Ballinas and many physical assaults, rape, and death threats by him, Mariana was eventually found dead.
After speaking to her mother only days before her death they spoke of how she was done with the abuse and would be divorcing Ballinas. Unfortunately, it was too late because of her mother, Irinea Buendía, received the phone call from Ballinas that Mariana had committed suicide by hanging herself. When Irinea had arrived at the scene where Ballinas and police investigators were investigating the crime scene the evidence they had, said she hung herself with a tiny utility hook and a thin pink cord (only measuring five millimeters wide).
There was no possible way that a grown woman would have been able to hang herself from such a thin cord and weak hook. Not only was that impossible but the police did not account for the numerous bruises all over Mariana’s body showing the struggle and fight against her killer.
The justice her family is trying to seek was at first nearly impossible until the Mexican supreme court decided to reopen investigations.Mexico’s supreme court is also doing so for all women who are killed whether it is by femicide or other causes. Otherwise, Mexico has a problem with letting the killers go unpunished, no with consequences or sentences.
Luckily for the Buendía family, they were able to fight against the courts for their daughter's rightful justice. While many other poor families dealing with the deaths of women in their families are unable to do so because of the legal systems costs involved in trying to fight their cases which are too much for them to pay. Not only has Mariana's husband Julio killed her based off of her gender as a woman, but he is also a part of the corrupt police department that is allowing these disappearances and murders happening.
The police and government are doing little to nothing on the matter and actually seem to be covering up the problem. The women and girls are being killed based on their gender which is a hate crime. But why haven’t the officials done anything on these crimes against gender? Are they too afraid to come forward? Or is the corruption that bad? And why are they justifying the killings assuming they are suicides or giving a justified reasoning for why they are being killed?
These are all reasons why civilians and the police are choosing to stay quiet on the issue happening in the country, although they do know that many girls are missing and being found in ditches dead. To civilians, the women who they have no association to are ignored or unspoken of because the denial of the missing women is purely out of fear.
On the police departments side, they are developing reasoning for some of the killings happening. Some of the police developments on cases try to push the blame for women’s choice of clothing, sexual activity, or the women are working in areas where there is prostitution for the reasoning of their deaths. Corrupt law enforcement is letting money be more important than the lives of the murdered women.
Wealth and ultimately power allows this to be overseen and often at crime scenes the police will sometimes even try to dispose of the bodies themselves. Police officers are also known to try making innocent people confess to being guilty of committing the murders so the cases are closed out.
The government officials such as the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, ran his presidential campaign on advocating for the awareness and safety of the women of Mexico standing against the femicide-although little to nothing has been done to crack down on the problem.Drugs and gangs are a major problem contributing to the rapes and killings because they find the women to be the next thing to defeat and have dominance over showing other gangs what harm they can do.
The governments lack policies to try and correct the problem of corruption in the police force only goes to show the corruption of the government itself and lack of effort in trying to prevent more deaths. Many state officials in the justice system declined to talk about the different cases involving femicide and many trials take a long time to come to fruition. The cases are ultimately left for a long while or closed down with false confessions and no leads in some instances on the murders. It seems as though Mexico’s own government is doing very little with the world watching the actions taking place, which is partly true.
With no control over their own countries abuses in 2007, the international community had tried to intervene in convincing the Mexican law makers to enforce laws to prevent the violent crimes against women. The piece of legislation written was the Anti-Trafficking Act to prevent the women being abducted in the sex slave trade along the Mexican and United States border.
This legislation was a step in the right direction for the Mexican government, although they are not completely adhering to the full abolishment of trafficking to protecting women and have reduced spending on programs of trafficking. These reasons are because of the corruption in allowing the trafficking to happen for monetary reasons. The awareness is being spread around the country but the funding is lacking in some areas for victims in order to help them recover from the traumatic experiences. This is largely due to some parts of Mexico suffering from the pandemic more so than other areas.
Another step forward is the country trying to provide shelters for the women of femicide for their protection, yet again funding is a major issue in protecting the victims. A system called gender violence alerts were set to be in place to reduce the violence by using the technology to stop and catch the criminals. A major overhaul of the law enforcement into correcting the seemingly huge issue of the immoral and dishonest Mexican police they currently have. Nonetheless, nothing has been very effective in battling femicide simply because of the money involved and the “hushing up” done by the wrong doers; they continue to commit the horrendous acts because they know they are protected by having the law on their side.
Overall, the femicide that started in the 90’s is still ongoing today with thousands of girls missing, murdered, and even so brutally beaten they are unidentifiable. Today it is wise as a local or a tourist coming to Mexico to avoid these Mexican cities. The violence against the women shows no mercy and the problem continues to grow every day.
With the lack of respect for women by most men in society, the drug cartels, and even from Mexico’s very own police enforcement and government officials we will not be able to see a stop to the unfortunate unjustifiable murders of the women in the Mexican cities. From Ciudad Juarez all the way to cities like Mexico City, women deserve the justice of no longer being the object of intentional murder because of their gender by misogynists and the offenders of femicide.
The response of the police and government show that Mexico needs harsher laws set in place to stop the crucial problems of the country like drugs and dangerous men from gaining power. In return the poor women of Mexico will no longer have to tolerate the sexual abuses done to them and families will no longer have to worry about their mothers, daughters, wives etc. being killed in a constant state of fear by all involved.