The violence against women in Mexico continues to rise to alarming rates. They are dying at the hands of domestic assailants as well as organized crime culprits. In 2018, 3,580 women and girls were killed in Mexico, the Associated Press reports.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is aiming to curtail this epidemic under his new administration by conducting thorough murder investigations, having a stronger judicial system to prosecute offenders and, among other initiatives, to search for women who are missing as soon as it’s reported.
“All of them have a common factor: the lack of timely and diligent intervention by the Mexican state to preserve their integrity and to ensure their lives,” Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said, according to the AP.
Until the new government gets their act together, one woman is making sure the death of every woman in Mexico doesn’t go unnoticed.
María Salguero, a geophysics scholar, and researcher, has created a mapping system to keep track of each woman that is murdered in Mexico.
According to news reports, Salguero said that worldwide attention (or at least in the U.S. and in Mexico) surrounded the deaths of women that occurred only in Ciudad de Juarez. She said she wanted to not only track the deaths of women all over Mexico but also to have their names in a recorded document because it’s crucial to name them.
She began tracking the femicide in her country in 2016 and initially began by getting Google alerts of violence against women.
Since she first started the project, Salguero has obtained the records of “more than 6,000 cases of femicide dating back to 2011. In 27 cases, authorities were unable to establish the woman’s identity. In 70 cases, the victim was a trans woman,” Open Democracy states.
Her tracking system is detailed and includes the victim’s name, where their body was found, and of course the city and state.
This work is a labor of love for Salguero who works full-time at the National Search Commission of Mexico. She said she works on the mapping system on her off time and it takes up to five hours a day, depending on the workload.
According to Salguero’s tracking system, the overwhelming majority of femicide is occurring in the state of Mexico.
Her report, which is also verified by state records, show that in 2018 400 women died in Mexico state, followed by Guanajuato, Baja California, Guerrero, and Jalisco. The state with the least murders is Yucatan.
She also notes that the numbers provided by country officials may not be accurate and could be a lot higher than they are reporting.
“Only a part of the problem is documented by the press and not all. There is a 15 percent national bias in the official data. There are women who arrive injured in health systems and die because of the seriousness of the injuries and are not reported by the press, women who are murdered or in their homes or communities far away and there was not a means to cover them,” she said. “The bodies which are found but the sex is undetermined, are cases that can not be documented.”
Women in Mexico don’t just live in fear of death, but they also endure day-to-day harassment.
According to a United Nations report, a survey showed that almost 90 percent of women experience sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces in Mexico City alone. These public places include subways, buses, and streets.
Yeliz Osman, Safe Cities, and Safe Public Spaces Programme Coordinator at UN Women in Mexico said that the same harassment that women face in Mexico is the same in other parts of the world. “The overwhelming majority of women who participated in focus groups said that they experience some form of sexual harassment in their daily journeys. She adds, “These behaviors have been so normalized and naturalized within societies that women themselves don’t often consider it important enough to report and men don’t even realize in many cases that this is actually a form of violence and the impact that it has on women and girls.”
Click here to visit Salguero’s tracking system of femicides in Mexico.
Gender-based violence is a global problem, and, in many ways, new media and technology have provided new paths for perpetrators. From social media to GPS tracking, abusers have used technology to monitor, harass, threaten, intimidate and stalk victims, and this online violence against women and girls is rising around the world. But efforts are also being made to use emerging technological tools to respond to the pandemic of gender-based violence, most commonly by providing information and services to survivors.
In the U.S., Latin America and beyond, innovators have been working with trained professionals, like social workers, psychologists and legal experts, to design mobile applications and products to help women and girls escape abusive relationships, notify loved ones if they feel unsafe and help them reclaim their lives after violence.
Below, find some tech startups operating in the U.S. and Latin America that aim to reduce violence against women and help survivors lead safe and healthy lives.
According to the United Nations, a woman is abused in Brazil every 15 seconds, making it one of the most dangerous countries for women and girls in the world. In 2016, Gabriela Corrêa was harassed by a driver while using a taxi-hailing app in São Paulo. Upon dropping the young woman off at her destination, the driver told her, “I will wait for you outside, because you will be drunk later and I will take advantage of you.” Terrified by the experience, and the stories of other women who had encountered intimidation and violence while using public transportation, Corrêa was inspired to create LadyDriver, a Brazilian car-hailing app that only accepts women passengers and hires women drivers. With tens of thousands of drivers and hundreds of thousands of downloads in São Paulo, the app has been welcomed among women in the city. It has also inspired another similar all-women service in Brazil, FemiTaxi.
Across Latin America, similar women-only taxi services exist, including LauDrive in Mexico, She Taxi in Argentina and She Drives Us in Chile. In the U.S, ride-hailing apps like SheRides (available in New York) and Safr (operating in Orlando) are also popping up, and they’re centering vulnerable populations. For example, while Safr has temporarily stopped providing rides and deliveries amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still offering its services to battered and abused women through partner institutions.
2. Háblame de Respeto
In El Salvador, femicide, the murder of a woman because of her gender, occurs about once every 24 hours. In 2017, a national study found that 67% of women have suffered some form of violence, like sexual assault or family abuse, in her lifetime. Violence is so prevalent that the Central American country is the only nation in the world to have a law against “femicide suicide,” the crime of driving a woman to suicide because of abuse. With up-to-date government data around the problem of gender-based violence in El Salvador hard to come by, a group of journalists looking for responsible management of this information took the matter into their own hands in 2014 when they created Háblame de Respeto. Using data journalism and storytelling, the group of reporters, under the Latitudes Foundation, created a portal and platform to study violence against women in El Salvador and make the information accessible to everyday people in the country.
Intimate partner violence is a public health crisis in the United States. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people are physically abused by a partner every minute. Data shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. One of the biggest reasons women stay in abusive relationships is because of financial dependence. In fact, when survivors leave their violent partner, they often have little to no cash, credit cards or bank accounts in their name. Learning about this financial abuse and instability, Sonya Passi created FreeForm, a startup that financially empowers survivors by helping them get compensation for their most pressing needs, like medical bills and property costs, and teaching them money and entrepreneurial tools to obtain financial independence.
4. No Estoy Sola
Ciudad Juárez, a city in northern Mexico, has long been called “the capital of murdered women.” From 1993 to 2005, more than 370 women were killed in the border town. An app called No Estoy Sola is hoping to protect the vulnerable population. The application, which acts as a panic button, can be downloaded on mobile devices. Whenever someone feels unsafe, they can shake their phones or click on a button that will alert their emergency contacts, which they set up ahead of time, with a message saying they are in danger along with their location. The same message is sent out to the contact every five to 10 minutes until the user deactivates it.
5. Não Me Calo
Back in Brazil, another app, Não Me Calo (I Will Not Shut Up), is encouraging women and girls to use their voices in order to keep others safe. The mobile app, which was created by Brazilian girls and won the Global Fund for Women’s International Girls Hackathon, ranks how safe users feel in certain establishments. Its primary goal is to warn women to avoid certain clubs, restaurants or businesses where they experienced harassment, intimidation or violence. However, the founders also hope that a bad ranking on the Yelp-like app can motivate business owners to take steps to alleviate the problem.
Like the No Estoy Sola mobile app in Ciudad Juárez, Revolver is essentially a panic button. However, this U.S.-founded gadget doesn’t require a cellphone. An oval-shaped clicker, Revolar can attach to a set of keys or can clip onto jeans or undergarments. The two-setting device sends out an alert to designated contacts when the user feels unsafe. A yellow alert, for instance, will send a message to their contacts with their location and a note expressing concern. A red alert, however, will indicate that the user needs serious and immediate help. The app was created by Colombian-American Andrea Perdomo, whose grandmother was kidnapped in the South American country, and Jacqueline Ros, whose sister was assaulted twice.
While Paladin wasn’t created to serve survivors of gender-based violence, the startup is helping women in major ways. A justice tech company, Paladin is a portal that brings together legal teams looking to run more efficient pro bono programs with hotlines and organizations that help vulnerable communities gain legal representation and support. According to co-founder and COO Kristen Sonday, who’s part-Puerto Rican, the portal has been particularly helpful to communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for domestic violence survivors who were forced to isolate with abusers.
Like Paladin, Mediconfia wasn’t created with the objective of helping survivors of gender-based violence; however, the digital platform, which connects individuals in Colombian cities like Cali, Medellín and Bogotá with gynecologists and allows them to rate their experience, has proven beneficial to women who have experienced sexual abuse or intimate partner violence and need a trustworthy health professional to confide in.
9. Vantage Point
While Vantage Point doesn’t directly help survivors, it does provide a solution to workplace harassment. According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of women have been sexually harassed in a professional setting. However, about 72% of survivors never report the harassment. Vantage Point is a sexual harassment training solution for corporations that uses virtual reality to educate employees on the identification of sexual harassment, bystander intervention and response training. For example, using photo-realistic characters, it immerses trainees in experiences where their personal space is being invaded or they are talked to or gazed at aggressively. The startup, founded by Morgan Mercer, a biracial woman of color who experienced and witnessed racial microaggressions, also uses emerging technology to communicate the nuances of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Women in their first trimester of pregnancy experience extreme hormonal changes that can lead to some pretty bizarre symptoms. From extreme cravings, even for non-food items such as pica, to a heightened sense of smell, it often seems like a pregnant woman could be experiencing an actual possession.
Women on Reddit are sharing the most bizarre symptoms they wish people had given them a heads up about before they got pregnant.
Check them out below!
“Nosebleeds. Not currently pregnant, but when I was, I got nosebleeds every few days during the first and second trimesters.”- creativeandwonderful
“From my mom: I paralyzed her from the waist down for a few hours because I decided to take a nap on her spinal cord in the third trimester. The doctor’s response was ‘yeah you’ll be able to move again once they wake up.’ Pregnancy is pure body horror.”- AbsolXGuardian
“That is awful. I’m glad it wasn’t permanent. I knew a mom of twins who had one of them move and dislocated some of her ribs. Just…holy cow. It’s scary to think about all the damage that tiny little being can do while inside you, not to mention when coming out. Then many years of them beating you up and wearing your body down. Thank goodness for those hormones that help you believe it’s all worth it.”- TCMueller
“This is mostly a 3rd trimester thing, but that when you are active and moving, it kinda rocks the baby to sleep.
But as soon as you lay down to go to sleep, baby wakes up and starts kicking and spinning.
Might not be super common (?), but I knew a lot of other mothers who complained about this, too.”- GingerMau
“Not a woman, but i wish i knew the warning signs of preeclampsia, Girlfriend was 7 months pregnant at the time, and had been complaining of generally not feeling good with a constant headache that would occasionally break for a bit, i came home from work(i work overnights) to her sleeping on the floor and i eventually got to bed but i woke up 3 hours later to hear a thud and she was having a seizure, turns out she went eclamptic, she ended up having a c section, daughter was in the nicu for a bit but both are doing great now. What really put things into how close my girlfriend was to dying was the doctors and nurses saying how few people they’ve seen go eclamptic and one of the nurses said shes only seen 3 cases in like 10 years and 2 of them died.”- LeButtSmasher
“How hungry you can be. All. The. Time. Especially twins.
Then how hungry you still are after baby comes.
Then his hungry you are while breast feeding.
And sometimes the weight doesnt go away. At least the kids dont care.”- kleigh1313
“I wish someone would have warned me about the constipation. Corollary: I wish someone would have warned me that ‘fiber supplement’ does not equal ‘stool softener.’ Today, we’re at 26 weeks gestation.”- InfernalWedgie
“Related– I did have a couple of friends warn me about constipation, but no one told me I would be as thirsty as I have been! I get constipated after any day where I didn’t drink a huge glass of water every single time I felt thirsty… but I’ve been constantly insanely thirsty since probably month 2. I’m drinking something like 8-10 12 oz glasses of water a day. And no, turns out it isn’t gestational diabetes… just pregnancy.
And lol, agreed on the fiber supplement– I’d say it was more of a gas multiplier than helpful. Real food fiber did better on that front (oatmeal, pears, prunes, sweet-potatoes. heck, even beans were better than the fiber supplement for me).”- badgersonice
“Your body produces a hormone called relaxin that helps loosen your pelvis in preparation for birth. Some women get waayyy too much too soon and it loosens everything to the point you lose mobility and every day all day is painful. Also your body pushes so hard during birth you can feel yourself shit your own asshole out.”- Jen_Itals
“During labor the “water breaking” is not one rush of liquid. it’s continuous and can occur for several hours. it’s horrendous and messy and incredibly awful to deal with. it feels like peeing but you have zero control over anything and if you tense up then everything is much more painful and weird feeling.
nobody ever told me that and i was VERY surprised to find out for myself.”-notgrass87
“YUP. Went to the hospital at 4CM, water broke the second I got into triage. Water continued to POUR out with every contraction until I laid down. An hour later, they decide to take me to L&D, I stand up, bam pouring buckets. Get to L&D, another big contraction and water pours out of me all over my poor nurses shoes. My god, I did not know my body could have that much liquid in it. It was insane. I was so embarrassed and kept saying sorry lol.”- The-Chonky-one
“To quote a doctor friend of mine: People don’t realize that it’s the worst day of their life for them, but for me it’s Tuesday. Stop worrying about embarrassing yourself.”- Klaus_Goldfish
“I had adult diapers given to me by my SIL (she had some unused ones left from her pregnancies). They are INCREDIBLY useful for if your water breaks, and after you give birth and there is blood, so much blood.”- CypripediumGuttatum
“I didn’t measure, but I’ve heard people describe it as 9 months of periods saved up and thought that was pretty accurate. I was more concerned by my 2nd degree tearing to be worried about the blood. They said if there were “clots” that was what to look out for (so if your placenta hadn’t all come out and could potentially rot inside you basically). There is no glamor and not much dignity in giving birth and the recovery. Good thing the babies are cute! 10/10 happy I did it once and would never do it again, props to the ladies that go for round 2+.”- CypripediumGuttatum
“Hair loss! After I had my kid I lost a ton of hair. I would pull fists full of hair during my showers. I thought there was something wrong with me because no one told me about this. Went to Google, totally normal and it happens to everyone. It grows back eventually and you’ll go through an awkward baby hair phase.”- sm1020
“Aahh something I actually know the science behind! So apparently when you’re pregnant, your head holds on to almost all of those dead hairs that your scalp would normally just get rid of everyday. We all lose some hair, but most of the time we don’t realize how much we lose, especially if you’re blessed with thick hair. So when you’re pregnant and your body is worrying about keeping baby safe and growing, it basically stops shedding dead hair, and then sheds it ALL AT ONCE right after baby is born. So you’re not actually losing more hair than normal, you’re just losing all of those dead hairs that you would have lost anyway over the course of your pregnancy. It takes some time to see that your hair is back to normal because your head is now growing all of those hairs back at once, but when all is said and done your hair isn’t any thinner than it was before baby! My hair stylist told me this when I started freaking out about my pregnancy and body changes. She saved a panic attack that day.”- aep17
“Tore up from the floor up” lololol. I’m 5 weeks postpartum and had my OB take a look today for any remaining stitches from my second degree tear. I tore alllll the way and I swore I could still feel some. She said that they were all gone, but then I went home and found a whole ass suture on my toilet paper. Took my first look down there and it looks like I was stitched up by Frankenstein. My taint straight up has a seam now.”- edgeofdoom
“My god, the pooping. I now I have a three month old, and while I can’t remember my first poop after delivery, I vividly remember crying on the toilet not being able to poop. And nobody warns you about the hemorrhoids. Mine were so big I couldn’t sit for two weeks, and poops came out in little nuggets. Sometimes I actually had to scoop it out. Going to the bathroom became an event. My husband said the sounds I made trying to poop were worse than what I did during labor.”- toot_toot_tootsie
“I had a total meltdown in the hospital because my entire extended family was on the phone with my mom asking to come over to visit. “They just want to see you because they love you!” Um, no they want to see a cute new baby while I’m still bleeding heavily and have to use a squirt bottle after I pee, so… no.”- killergiraffe
“This times 1,000. Mine was fine, but I follow a woman on Instagram who lost her daughter full term because the doctor didn’t induce. She had signs of cholestasis and wasn’t diagnosed for awhile, then went to the hospital for lessening movements, failed a NST and then HE SENT HER HOME.
Every time I read her story I am angry on her behalf. I know she’s said she felt uneasy, and the way doctors dismiss our concerns in general let alone while pregnant, I imagine she ignored her feelings because she trusted the doctor and didn’t want to be pushy. I’m a loud mouthed person and I still failed to assert my needs during my last pregnancy. I’m pro-medicine but people need to understand that there is a valid reason that people mistrust doctors. Please anybody reading this – advocate for yourself!!! Trust in modern medicine but if your instincts are telling you something is wrong, trust them.”- thatcondowasmylife
“L&D nurse here, and I just wanna say that while you can pass blood clots as big as a tennis ball, it’s not “normal.” We tell our patients if they pass blood clots bigger than an egg, they need to let their nurse or OB doctor know! Big clots like that can cause a patient to have a hemorrhage, and patients don’t realize this, but you can hemorrhage up to like 6 weeks postpartum! Also, if you’re bleeding heavily enough to have to change your pad hourly or more, please call your doctor. Your nurse will probably do a fundal massage a million times before you get discharged, and I always encourage my patients to learn how to do it because it helps ensure the uterus is doing what it should do!”- little_ginger1216