On Sunday, April 17, Alexis Gabriela García Gamboa, a 17-year-old from Monterrey, México, was killed by her 23-year-old ex-boyfriend, Sergio Arturo Alanís. Alexis and Sergio were neighbors. She had known him her whole life. He shot her in the neck. Her mother and sister tried to protect her, but Sergio attacked them both. They’re now under hospital care. Sergio currently awaits sentencing.
Alexis and her sister Sharito were getting ready to see a cheerleading performance. As they were leaving, Sergio was waiting for them out on the street. Moments later, Alexis was killed.
Gamboa’s death adds to the rising tally of femicide cases in México. Femicide occurs when a man violently kills a woman because of her gender. The systemic roots of femicide cases derive from corruption and machismo. Too often, threats and violence against women are overlooked by Mexican authorities. Typically, these femicide victims had been abused and harassed by their killers in the past.
Credit: Mitú / Alberto Urias
According to Humberto Padgett, author of Las Muertas del Estado, police and government authorities in México often blame women for their own murders. They believe that they’re “asking for it,” for reasons such as wearing short skirts, falling for the wrong guy, or because they are or work in the same parts of town as sex workers.
Alexis’ aunt, Carmen García Núñez, recently wrote an open letter about her niece’s murder, hoping to draw greater attention to these murders and encouraging women and their allies to do more when it comes to reporting violence and abuse.
“The last time I saw her…There was sadness inside of her. I don’t know. Like as if she was looking for something., as if she wanted to run from something. Now, I’m wondering, why didn’t I question anything then. Why hadn’t I intervened more?
Crying doesn’t comfort me. Understanding comforts me. Why do these things happen? Why are we harmed by the people who supposedly love us? Why does harm come from the people who supposedly love you? Why did Alexis love a troubled kid? Why didn’t she seek help? Why didn’t she believe in her fear? What can we do as parents to protect our daughters from this?
I think it’s about empowering women. Of knowing when to say no, and to report the attack the moment it happens.
Make a fuss. Yes, we must make a fuss when someone is being misogynistic or sick. Report it. Even if they call us “feminazis” or viejas arguenderas, or viejas locas. At this point in life, me vale madre whatever they say.
Yesterday, when I asked my cuñada, how are you? Dead, she told me. They took away my Alexis. Why live. I didn’t know how to respond. There are no words of comfort.”
You can read her original letter in its original Spanish on Facebook.
For help and information:
LoveIsRespect.org, a group that aims to “engage, educate and empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships.”