Four Mexican parents are risking death in a protest march to implore the governor’s intervention to recover the bodies of their deceased daughters from state agencies. Their march of more than 200 miles from the northern Mexico border city of Juarez to the state capitol Chihuahua is designed to call public attention to their plight. The march concludes today.
Three mothers and a father--surviving parents of the victims--with their lawyer, are defying death by braving torturously cold weather, physical pain and risk of their own assassinations. They say feminicide has already ended their lives.
“We are dead in life. What more could we lose?” Karla Castaneda was quoted in a Frontera Norte Sur dispatch. Castaneda is the mother of Cinthia Jocabed Castaneda Alvarado, a 13-year-old Ciudad Juarez girl who vanished while on an errand to exchange shoes in October 2008.
“With the disappearances of our daughters, we mothers became lawyers, investigators and even psychologists, because the (women’s crimes) prosecutor’s office doesn’t function; we know more than them.”
The women’s “March for Life” is the latest in a series of mostly futile attempts to wrestle government intervention in the ongoing onslaught of feminicide in Northern Chihuahua, Mexico. Feminicide is the brutal, ritualized murder of women—most of whom are young and poor. The murders are executed with impunity for the perpetrators.
Chihuahua’s state Fiscalia (FGE) reported 116 open cases of disappearances of women and girls in the Juárez region from 1995 until February 21, 2012. These disappearances are over-and-above the acknowledged murders of nearly 400 young women on the U.S.-México border.
The participants in the Walk for Life are demanding that Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte’s administration identify the remains of all victims currently warehoused in the morgue and resolve cases of suspected feminicide.
In these targeted attacks of feminicide, women are variously beaten, asphyxiated, tortured and raped. Their dead bodies are often mutilated. The remains of slain women have been tossed as though litter throughout Ciudad Juárez: to communicate a threat, a reprimand, or to embarrass other targets.
Feminicide (sometimes called "femicide") derives from a cultural disrespect and societal devaluation of women as humans. Because the Mexican government allows impunity to the perpetrators of femicide, it enables the ongoing targeting of the innocent.
The burial of Beatriz Alejandra Hernandez Trejo, who disappeared in Juarez in April 2010 while attempting a job interview, launched the march. Hernandez’s body was recovered from the rural Juarez Valley in 2012, but her remains were withheld from the family until just this month. Hernandez was one of at least 14 similar young women whose remains were found in the Juarez Valley since 2009. In several cases their bodies were withheld from their families for prolonged periods of time.
Ciudad Juarez mother and activist Karla Castaneda said it’s possible that the Walk for Life could continue to Mexico City to press for a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto if Gov. Duarte’s administration does not provide satisfactory responses.
In a statement released today, human rights groups express support of the effort and called for authorities to take action: “It seems that time stands still for justice in Chihuahua. Lives that have been lost seem to mean nothing to leaders who ought to seek peace and justice for our state and the entire nation.”
Several video interviews of the women marchers are attached to this report in the Video tab.
“The silhouettes of three women, a father and their lawyer walking on the road, alone and accompanied only by the intense cold of winter reveal truths that need to move the world,” continues the statement of human rights leaders reflecting on the cruel situation faced by the desperate victimized parents of the “March for Life.”
But the world remains largely blind to the reality of feminicide, a reality that is spreading like a cancer throughout the Western Hemisphere. It’s twin sister, the sex trade, which prospers through human trafficking, continues to infiltrate the United States. And mysogynistic proponents of rape and violence against women silently rejoiced when the US Congress allowed the Violence Against Women Act to quietly perish at the end of 2012.
The marchers in Mexico march for us all. In return, they deserve the support of the international community. The community of nations needs to apply pressure on the Mexican government to stop the impunity and deal justice to the victim’s families.
When will elected leaders act in support of the innocent and most vulnerable?
Frontera Norte Sur (1/19/13)
Frontera List, Google Groups: Statement by Capítulo de Mujeres Fronterizas, Centro de Pastoral Obrera de Cd. Juárez, Cauce Ciudadano, Hombres por relaciones igualitarias de Genero (1/20/13)
Related: Gender Alert in Chihuahua, Mexico