Las Mujeres de Juarez

A burial ground to honor the victims of Juarez.

A burial ground to honor the victims of Juarez.


Last week, the Cohen’s New Works Festival was happening in Austin. It showcased a number of art, dance, and theatre works, and was student-produced. For over a year and a half, one of my dearest friends has been working (writing, directing) on a breathtaking piece that debuted this year at the Festival. It is called Las “Mujeres de Juarez”. It deals with the cruel and systematic violence against women that permeates in the Juarez region. One of the many interesting things about this is that prior to his research about the subject, my friend didn’t really know much about it. Which makes me curious; do you?

The current violence of Juarez has been cloaked and has been kept a secret that was slightly uncovered at the beginning of the decade: for about 20 years, hundreds of women in Juarez have been sexually attacked, often mutilated- and then dumped in the desert or isolated places for someone to find. Many times their bodies are desecrated so deeply, that it is impossible to identify who they are (http://www.avizora.com/atajo/informes/mexico_textos/0032_asesinos
_de_mujeres_en_ciudad_juarez_mexico.htm). Those who analyze the dire situation, understand that there are a number of factors that contribute and that are to blame for these incidents, but answering this question is not the point of this post. Instead, I’d like to address the reasons for why this ongoing war against women isn’t highlighted in the media. Why Americans are not aware of it? And why is our government so hush-hush about the situation.

Living in El Paso –directly across Juarez- makes me assume that the majority of El Pasoans know about the vast amount of crimes that are committed against women in the Mexico. However, there is a disconnect. I would take the liberty to say that the majority of El Pasoans don’t understand the gravity of the situation, and those that do either don’t care or don’t know what to do about it. This is interesting to me, because every time something happened in the Middle East, the amount of press coverage that the situation gets is massive. But what about what happens right across the border? Is this lack of caring because there is no economic stake in the well-being of these women. If so, I’d like to share that the women that are being targeted and killed are workers at maquiladoras. Maquiladoras are the factories that were made possible because of NAFTA and the possibility of cheap labor that it brang. I’d hate to think that these young women are seen as dispensable, but it seems likely.

At around the time during which my friend was rehearsing for the play, the shocking bus crime that took place in India (in which 6 men taking a joy ride, severely raped a young college woman and violently beat her friend; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323482504578227751166162988.html) received coverage. After reading the articles that covered this, I also learned that India has a perverse and strong culture of sexual violence (i.e. rape) against women. To put things in perspective, “from 2007 and 2011, Delhi saw 2,620 rape cases. Comparatively, Mumbai had 1,033, Bangalore 383, Chennai 293 and Kolkata 200 cases… Of the 5,337 rape cases in the last decade, in 3,860 the culprits were either acquitted or discharged by courts for lack of ‘proper’ evidence.” (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/rights/india-has-gang-rape-problem). The statistics are quite honestly heart-wrenching, and the victims that I’ve read about are as young as 10 years old, if not younger. This culture of rape even permeates the Bollywood infrastructure of the country. According to many articles, eve teasing is incredibly common in Bollywood movies. This type of sexual harassment includes cat-calling and even groping in public places (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_teasing). The crazy part is not that this is a part of the normal narrative of the movies, but that in them, the heroine (being eve-called) usually gives in and falls for the perpetrator. Yet, before the disgusting bus crime that took place in India, I had no idea that this was going on. Why? Why does the media fail to report this injustice? I say, that it’s because there is no economic stake in this unprotected population. What do you think?

As an increasingly globalized world, the affairs of one country are no longer contained and they no longer affect that country solely. Instead, this obvious degradation of women across the world affects women everywhere in many ways. For this reason, Americans need to start being more aware of what happens across the world- and in Juarez’s case- the border.

A short film about the women in Juarez.

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