Wave of femicides in southern Mexico raises alarm
Oaxaca, Mexico, Mar 7 (EFE).- The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is leading the nation so far this year in numbers of femicides – the murder of women purely due to their gender – a wave of machista violence that is raising alarm among feminists in the area within the context of International Women’s Day on March 8.
The colonial-era walls of the city of Oaxaca have been a canvas for slogans painted by women demanding punishment for those who commit femicide but remain fugitives or calling on authorities not to release the perpetrators who are already imprisoned, with almost 30 known femicides so far this year.
In the streets, the relatives of the victims march to call for efforts to locate Andrea Itzel, 17, whose whereabouts have been unknown since Jan. 17, when she left her home in Santiago Suchilquitongo, a municipality marked by the highest index of femicides in the poverty-stricken state.
“A woman can’t just be lost without leaving any trace. It can’t be that the earth just swallowed her. Andrea is not the only one. There are many and we need more security and to do what’s necessary to find her,” said Catalina Castellanos in the central square of Oaxaca city after a march to demand that the authorities make a more serious and intensive search for the teen.
Suchilquitongo and the communities of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan and San Andres Huayapam, where a man beat his 46-year-old wife to death, are all among the five most violent Oaxacan municipalities for women.
In San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, Jazmin Zarate, a 28-year-old singer, was murdered by her ex-partner and her body was found with knife wounds in a vacant lot on Nov. 7, 2022.
On Sunday, her relatives placed a floral offering at the site along with crosses with the names of dozens more women who have been murdered in Oaxaca.
The emotional ceremony was accompanied by Jazmin’s music, including her song “Libertad” (Freedom).
“I haven’t been able to listen to those songs for the past three months until today, (to listen to) my daughter who they murdered in a cowardly manner. A man who was a devil disguised as an angel murdered her and that murderer has to pay,” Adriana Aquino, Jazmin’s mother, told dozens of young people, calling for her daughter’s killer to receive the maximum sentence for the crime.
Feminist Angelica Ayala Ortiz, the president of the Rosario Castellanos Study Group (GESMujer), said that Oaxaca is at “a critical moment” since it’s in the No. 1 spot in Mexico for femicides, this in a country where every day more than 10 women are murdered, some of them in femicides and others in “run-of-the-mill” homicides.
“It’s shameful, regrettable and an outrage to be in first place. Unfortunately, Oaxaca, has 98-100 percent impunity in femicide cases and this sends a bad signal that those who attack (women) are not punished,” she said.
GESMujer reported that between Jan. 1 and March 6, Oaxaca experienced 28 femicides, the most recent one on Monday after the finding of the body of a women approximately 25 years of age in a vacant area in the town of Santa Maria Atzompa.
Since Aug. 31, 2018, when a sexual violence alert was declared for 40 Oaxaca municipalities, GESMujer has registered the violent deaths of 538 women.
The murder of Perla, a 9-year-old girl on Feb. 18, 2023, and the femicides of sisters Natalia and Ximena, 19 and 17, killed by their father in Oaxaca city, are those that have shocked the public the most.
Oaxaca Gov. Salomon Jara said in a personal promotional program broadcast by the Oaxaca Radio Television Corporation that his government is working on the matter.
“Family violence occurs in (Oaxaca’s) 570 municipalities. Before, it was not reported, the figures were massaged and now there’s more real data, but we’re working. I think that, on Day 100 of (my) government, we’re going to provide a clear, brief summary of what we’re doing,” he said.