National Organization for Women defines Femicide as the mass murder of women simply because they are women. It is the term that has been coined in response to the murders of nearly 400 young women on the U.S.-Mexico border in the city of Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
For more than a decade, the city of Juarez, near the US-Mexico border, has been a killing field for young women, the site of nearly 400 unsolved murders and many more abductions. Despite the horrific nature of these crimes, authorities at all levels exhibit indifference, and there is strong evidence that some officials may be involved in the crimes. Impunity and corruption has permitted the criminals, whoever they are, to continue committing these acts, knowing there will be no consequences.
A significant number of victims work in maquiladoras — sweatshops that produce items for export, with 90 percent of the products destined for the United States. The maquiladoras employ mainly young women at poverty-level wages. In combination with lax environmental regulations and low tariffs under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the maquiladoras are amassing tremendous wealth. Yet despite the crime wave, they offer almost no protection for their workers. High profile government campaigns such as Ponte Vista (Be Aware), a self defense program, and supplying women with whistles have proven to be ineffective and are carried out mainly for public relations purposes.
Small advances in the struggle for justice are due to the perseverance of victims' families who cannot be silenced despite the efforts of state and federal authorities to keep them quiet. Campaigns by local, national and international non-governmental organizations have been very important in the efforts for justice. Often grassroots groups in Juarez work in a climate of threats and defamation by government officials for making one simple demand — STOP THE FEMICIDE!
Ni Una Mas - Not One More: The Juarez Murders at Drexel University's Leonard Pearlstein Gallery now through July 16th. For more information check out this May 27, 2010 Philadelphia Inquierer article, "The Border's Other Murders" by Eric Zilmer.