TW: Graphic depictions of violence against women, gendered violence
Violence against women is an epidemic across the globe — both in countries that tout gender equity like the United States and countries that are silent on the topic. This horrific reality can be seen in developed and developing countries. Violence against women—including physical and sexual violence—is a decades–long tragedy that has only increased amid the COVID–19 pandemic. However, there is a distinct crime against women that we are seeing increase: femicide, the violent and deliberate killing of a woman.
Femicides are tragically carried out in many countries in the world. In South Asian and Middle Eastern countries, femicides are often enacted as part of honor killings or dowry deaths. In South Africa and Nigeria, femicides committed by intimate partners are also rising amidst the pandemic. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world where one woman is murdered every three hours.
In the Americas, violence against women in Mexico and violence against Indigenous women in the United States are both increasing at an alarming rate without recognition or action by their respective governments. Both President Biden and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador must take action to curb the violence in their countries.
Femicides in Mexico are not a recent phenomenon. The first femicides in Mexico occurred in the 1980s in Ciudad Juarez, and they have increased by 10% between 2018 and 2019.In 2020, two horrific and brutal murders shook Mexico: the horrific and brutal murders of Ingrid Escamilla, who was 25 years old, and Fátima Cecilia Aldrighett, who was seven. Ingrid was killed on Feb. 9, 2020, and then further victimized by tabloids who published graphic photos of her dead body. Though President AMLO criticized the violence, he did not take any concrete actions to eradicate the horror. His unconcerned response prompted outrage among feminist groups in Mexico. Only two days later, Fátima was killed after her abduction from primary school in Mexico City. These two deaths spurred the protest #UnDiaSinNosotras, which translates to "A Day Without Us." This 24–hour strike by women took place on March 9, 2020.
One year after #UnDiaSinNosotras, there have been more and consistent protests against femicide in Mexico. The anti–femicide protests in March of this year caught national attention after protestors fought with riot police outside the National Palace. President Amlo has not responded to this emergency well at all. Feminist activists have branded him insensitive, and Amlo himself has called the protests opportunism and manipulation on behalf of his conservative political opponents.
In the United States, Joe Biden has promised Indigenous people a commitment to protect their rights and champion their interests. His own campaign website emphasizes the administration’s duty to ensure Native communities are safer, as well as the administration's duty to tackle the crisis of violence against Native women, children, and the elderly. But Biden has not kept his promise. In the U.S., there is a crisis—one that has lasted for centuries—of violence against Indigenous women and Two–Spirit people. Indigenous women face ten times the murder rate than the national average for women. They go missing and show up killed, but there is no sense of urgency to apprehend the murderers on part of the government or the police. These women rarely populate the U.S. Department of Justice’s missing persons list, and the cases are rarely reported.
The twin tales of femicide in Mexico and the kidnapping and murders of Indigenous women and Two–Spirit people in the U.S. and Canada are horrific crises that have lasted for decades. We must not become numb to the countless women who die at the hands of violence from men. We must continue to say their names and stand in solidarity with them. We need to urge our governments to make women’s safety a priority. Presidents Biden has made commitments to Indigenous people, and he must uphold them. President Amlo must take action on his left–leaning agenda, especially given that many of his votes came from feminist voters. It is their duty to protect the women of their countries.
To stay up to date on femicides in Mexico, please view Frida Guerrera’s blog and online map, where she chronicles the deaths of women and their names.