Femicide: The murder of a woman simply because she is a woman.
This term seems like something that would refer to some deep, historical events that are long over. Unfortunately that’s not that case, and we very much still live in a world where women are regularly losing their lives for simply being women. While, generally, our world is taking steps toward equality between genders, Mexico seems to be taking steps back.
In February 2020, Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said that femicide cases in Mexico had increased by 137 percent in the last five years. To put that into perspective, about 10.5 femicides are happening in the country daily. Sadly, a vast majority of these crimes are committed against these women by partners or ex-partners.
This problem stems from the larger machismo culture that is ever-present in many Mexican and Latinx homes. This is essentially a normalization of male entitlement and leads to the harassment, abuse, and even murder of women. While this way of thinking is not exclusive to the Mexican community, it’s seemingly much more present and normalized within that culture. As a Mexican-American myself, it’s normal to see parents pushing gender norms onto their children, such as expecting older female siblings to care for younger siblings. On the flip side, boys are brought up to have tough exteriors and be aggressively masculine. This tradition is so normalized within our culture, it took me years to even realize that that shouldn’t be the case.
The machismo mentality and aggressive gender norms present in Mexican culture are incredibly problematic and ultimately dangerous. Mexican men should not be brought up thinking they need to use violence and aggression to assert their masculinity. But sadly this mindset is so ingrained in our culture that attempting to change it seems impossible.
COVID and lockdowns have only increased this danger for women. According to Reuters, domestic abuse reports drastically increased as COVID hit Latin American countries, essentially confirming our fears that home is often not safe for Latin women.
We should not be living in a world where women have to fear for their lives at every second of the day. We should not live in a world where a woman is not safe, even in the comfort of her own home. Tens of thousands of innocent women have been losing their lives, and most of the general public seems to not even be aware of this issue.
Mexican women have been taking a stand and speaking up about these heinous crimes, expressing their anger and hurt that the vast majority of these killers walk free. This March, thousands took to the streets of Mexico to participate in a national strike against gender-based violence. These women are exhausted from fearing for their life at every turn, wondering if they’re next. We need to be helping them.
I know it seems like there’s not much we can do, but we need to at least be talking about this. If you feel so compelled, click here to donate to the Global Fund for Women, an organization that fights for gender justice. Share any hotlines or resources for domestic abuse survivors when you see them; You really never know who you could be helping. These women deserve better than almost an entire globe ignoring their struggle.