Femicide

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Femicide in Mexico: A National Cancer

“Maria Isabel, a 15-year-old student who worked in a shop, was raped and tortured; her body was found in a bag, tied with barbed wire, her face disfigured and her nails torn out.” (Prieto-Carron, Thomson, and Macdonald, p.25)

Throughout the history of the world, patriarchy has been rooted into the very essence of our lives, shaping our thoughts and actions. Patriarchy is present in virtually every society and unfortunately is the underlying problem to most violence in the world, particularly violence towards women. Patriarchy exemplifies the misogyny that has been ever-present since probably the beginning of every society. Whether it is discrimination towards women, lack of equal rights, or violence towards women, violence that stems almost entirely from patriarchal dominance is seen throughout most human societies past and present. Violence and fear have been used in many instances as forms of guidance, intimidation, and, most importantly, outright control. Gender-based violence (GBV) seems to be heavily engrained in Mexican culture, especially in the post-Conquest era of undermining matriarchal confluence and relative social equality and replacing them with outright male dominance. The culture of violence that stems from this era reaches all levels of Mexican society and ranges from many forms of domestic violence to outright femicide (murder of females) but is most concentrated at the lowest levels of income and education. Although this culture of femicide has been widespread for centuries, it has taken its most blatant forms in such U.S-Mexico border cities as Matamoros, Tijuana, and especially Ciudad Juarez, where in the 1990s its most horrific examples reaches national and even international attention. This paper will use three different sources--scholarly, organizational, and popular--to examine the problem of femicide in U.S-Mexico border cities. I think that the scholarly source will be the most informative when analyzing this issue.

The first source is a scholarly source, “No more killings! Women respond to femicides in Central America” (Marina Prieto-Carron, Marilyn Thomson, and Mandy Macdonald). This source is an article written by three women all of whom were members of CAWNS (Central Americans Women Network). As in most societies, most women have been or still are marginalized. By that I mean that women are both confined to traditional “female” roles and also shunned and/or discriminated against if they seek personal, sexual, or especially economic independence. This has been particularly true about Mexico. When women “violate” their traditional roles, they expose themselves to ridicule and discrimination from their families and society in general. Such traditional roles restrict women to primarily domestic activities, such as cooking, cleaning, supporting the husband, and raising the children. As they seek personal empowerment or even social mobility through education especially literacy, they unintentionally undermine or even “threaten” male roles and domination. In most but not all cases, these women come from poor families, usually rural and small villages. Either because they seek to improve themselves or else try to support their families, they have little recourse except to seek non-traditional roles to lift themselves out of poverty and desperation. In so doing, they expose themselves to hostility and even violence. This has been especially true for women who have become migrants themselves or with their families, even within Mexico itself. In addition, the roles of poverty and lack of access to health care, independent economic activities, and especially education cannot be underestimated. Centuries of patriarchal dominance and at least one century of machismo (that is, competition with other males for favor, status, recognition, and above all else, the subjugation of females to male will and esteem), the elevation of violence as a means of...
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