In Mexico, Feminist Activists Honored Victims of Femicide by Marching During What they Called “Día de Muertas”
On November 3rd, while many Mexicans were winding down from their Dia de Muertos celebrations, a group of activists in the city center were just getting started. Faces painted up as Calavera Catrinas, donning purple crosses and hand-painted signs, this group of people took to the Mexico City streets with one goal in mind: to raise awareness about the scourge of femicide that is sweeping their country, and Latin America in general.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, femicide is defined as “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender”. In 58% of cases, women are murdered by a romantic partner or a family member. Most of the time, the relationship has been a physically abusive one. In Mexico, gender-based murders have become so common and so consistently under-prosecuted that the families and friends of murdered women no longer feel that they can stand by in silence.
The Dia de Muertas march was coordinated by the organization Voices of Absence, which was founded in order to bring awareness to the plague of femicide in Latin America, and especially Mexico.
During the march, people gathered holding signs of their murdered daughters, friends, sisters, and loved ones. They chanted the phrase “not one more”, referring to the hope that they would prevent more deaths caused by gender-based violence. According to the office of Mexico’s Attorney General, 2019 is on track to become the second-most lethal year for women in Mexico since 1990, with 2,735 women being killed via homicide. This statistic is more than double the number of deaths recorded a decade ago.
Although Mexico has visibly taken steps to fixing the epidemic of gender-based murders that has taken over the nation ( like by signing the Spotlight Initiative, an EU- and U.N.-sponsored mission to eliminate gender-based violence on women and girls), the protesters also believe that more action needs to be taken. “[These women] did not die of old age or from illness,” said activist and journalist Frida Guerrera, a self-described “chronicler of femicide” throughout Mexico. “They were snatched away, they were ripped from their families, and we want them to be seen”.
The protesters were hoping that the demonstration might spur the government into ending impunity for this pervasive crime in Mexico.
Unfortunately, in Latin America, most men don’t face punishment for the murder of women, with a shocking 98% of these gender-based killings reportedly going unprosecuted. According to the United Nations Office of Human Rights, the failure to investigate these murders is due to “underlying societal beliefs about the inferiority of women” in Latin America, which have “created a culture of discrimination within law enforcement and judicial institutions” that result in “negligent investigations”.
In other words, the structural culture of machismo in Latin America is causing authorities to be apathetic towards the epidemic that is femicide. In order to reduce the rates of femicidie in Mexico, activists are calling for a complete overhaul of Mexico’s legal system, which protects men who kill women.
“The authorities don’t do anything to find these killers and the killers realize that they are taking so long that they have a chance to get away,” said Claudia Correa to Reuters, whose 21-year-old daughter was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in October. “And they are going to continue doing so if we allow them to”.
As for social media users, they are just as fed up with the machismo culture that allows so many murderers to go free without facing justice.
It is a culture of misogyny fueled by machsimo that makes the authorities and the government so apathetic to the murder of thousands of women.
This Latina knows that the fight for equality is futile if justice is not served for these women.
Because of the government’s inaction, women in Mexico are constantly living in fear for their lives.
As this Twitter user points out, it isn’t just Mexico that’s the problem, but Latin America in general:
This statistic simply proves that the problem isn’t just a Mexican one–but one that is plaguing all of Latin America.
This Latina paid tribute to the women that have fallen to the plague of gender-based murder:
Statistics like this make it hard to ignore the public health crisis on Latin America’s hands.
This Latina has a theory as to how the problem of femicide has risen to such shocking proportions in Latin America:
Whatever the cause of the crisis is, there’s no time to waste in addressing it. The deaths of thousands of women should be incentive enough to stop these tragedies from happening with such frequency.