A woman is killed every 20 hours in Mexico.
A woman’s body has always been dispensable in the eyes of the State – such has been the case in Mexico for the past several decades.
Femicides ravaged Mexico in the 1990s, notoriously nicknaming the border city of Juárez “the capital of murdered women.” The recent influx of these murders in the State of Mexico is horrifically reminiscent of those systematic killings, where 4,379 women were murdered between 2005 and 2011. In 2015, the situation remains grim as the intrinsic value of a woman’s life becomes questionable in a legal framework when a man decides she no longer has the right to live.
Protests have coursed throughout the streets, calling for justice. A recent Vice News video segment documented the growing frustrations and grief in the State of Mexico as authorities refuse to act, or even acknowledge, the wave of femicides plaguing the region and its people.
The failure of the Mexican government to investigate and end these violent killings is another example in which the erasure of violence against women is condoned for the sake of the State. Misogyny proves to be the pervasive catalyst of these crimes, while corruption arises at the absence of justice.
These gender-based murders of Mexican women are the result of entrenched masculinity and ingrained misogyny that perpetuate a culture in which the value of a woman’s life is determined by a man. This deadly perception of women continues on a societal basis, consistently feeding into the growing crisis: in 1990, a woman in Juárez was killed every 12 days; by 2011, a woman was killed every 20 hours in the State of Mexico.
Femicides are contextualized as the intentional murders of women for reasons that are related to their gender committed by a man, usually one who had romantic or sexual relations with the victim. The gendered motivations for these killings are also linked to the disappearances of thousands of women and young girls in Mexico within the past two decades.
The murders generally involve dismemberment, mutilation, rape, torture and other extreme acts of violence. The bodies are often discarded along roads, in public spaces or in sewage canals. In the rare instance that an attack is investigated, as less than five percent of murders are solved in the country according to the Latin Times, it is frequently ruled as a suicide.
The lack of involvement and transparency on behalf of officials has placed the responsibility of recording these crimes on independent groups. According to the National Citizen Femicide Observatory, a partnership of 43 groups in 19 Mexican states that works to document crimes against women, six women are murdered every day in the country of Mexico.
The rare occurrence of investigation into these hate crimes has been credited by the Mexican people as the result of corruption, ignorance and greed on behalf of officials who see no self-serving outcome of investigating murders that occur in impoverished communities. The authorities’ failure to proactively follow due process, along with a lack of reliable statistics and accessible legal resources, further displaces marginalized communities in Mexico seeking justice for their slain loved ones.
When crimes are investigated, the patriarchal roots that run deeply within the institutionalized structures of a corrupt State are revealed. The women are blamed for their own murders and male perpetrators are granted impunity.
“The attitude of police, investigators, experts and prosecutors is that women are murdered because their skirts are too short, because they get involved with the wrong men, or because they worked somewhere where prostitution is common,” explained Humberto Padgett, a Mexican author and journalist, to a Vice News reporter. “Just a series of moral judgments made about the victim by the authorities.”
The heavy presence of these murders is not exclusive to Mexico and extends to El Salvador, Guatemala, and various regions across the globe. The Mexican government must act swiftly and progressively to change the course of a deadly cultural mentality and act as an example in instilling in the forms of policy and action that justice does not solely belong to the privileged – that justice does not solely belong to men.