Content note: this post contains reference to extreme violence
Femicide is defined as the murder of women because they are women.
According to UN Women, this definition applies whether murder is “committed within the family, a domestic partnership, or any other interpersonal relationship, or by anyone in the community, or whether it is perpetrated or tolerated by the state or its agents”.
Femicide is the most severe consequence of gender based violence.
In Mexico, at least 1,741 woman have been victims of femicide in 2017. This statistic comes from geophysicist Maria Salguero, who has been collecting and compiling data in an interactive map showing the geolocations of femicides known to have taken place in the country.
In her map, Salguero has recorded 4,105 cases of femicide to date since January 2004. This data does not include all femicides within that time period, since it only includes information available from google notifications and newspapers. The map represents a huge amount of time, effort and dedication, and I’m very grateful to Maria for all the work she has done. Nonetheless, her map reveals something terrifying, because in reality the numbers are much higher than it is able to show.
In 2016, there were at least 2,099 cases of femicides throughout Mexico. As I’ve shared in previous posts, cases have been almost unbelievably brutal: impaling woman, boiling and cutting breasts, rape and torture, among many other medieval-sounding acts.
There have been 88 femicides so far this year in the state where I live. One took place so close to my house that it made me paranoid for several months. I couldn’t go out without my taser. My friends and I created a WhatsApp group to share our locations when taking taxis or Uber or the metro so that others would know where we were and that we’d arrived safely. I avoided going out at night.
On 15 September, Mara Castillo – a 19-year-old political science student and activist in the fight against gender violence in Mexico – was found dead after a Cabify driver took advantage of her after a night out and never brought her home. She was picked up from a bar 5 blocks from my house. She is now a pin in Maria’s map.
This 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, I want to share some heart-breaking statistics from Latin America:
- Over half of the 25 countries with the highest femicide rates are in the Latin American and Caribbean regions
- Femicide is considered to be the second leading cause of death of women of reproductive age in Honduras
- The impunity of femicide crimes is estimated at 77% in El Salvador and Honduras
- It was the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico – which began in the early 1990s – that led the term ‘femicide’ to be used in mainstream media
- In 2014, 871 women were victims of acid attacks related to domestic violence in Colombia
This is why we fight. This is why we march. This is why we write.
Maria Salguero’s map documents the age of victims of femicide, their relationship with their murderers, the way they were killed, the location they were found in, and the legal status of the case (whether there has been a prosecution or not).
Please, I urge you to navigate through the map. Read the cases, feel sickened by the numbers, and remember the women who are no longer with us. With every photo or name you see, remind yourself that this is not inevitable, and that we must fight to make it stop.