MEXICO CITY – Dozens of women in Ecatepec de Morelos, the Mexican city with the highest number of femicides in the country, marched on Friday to demand justice for the murders of relatives, friends and neighbors.
The activists marched from the emblematic Puente de Fierro iron bridge – designed by French architect Gustave Eiffel – to the city hall holding up placards, flowers and pink crosses symbolizing the women who have met violent deaths there that are, in a majority of cases, never even investigated by authorities.
Speaking to EFE, Mrs Ramirez – the sister and aunt of a woman and girl, respectively, who were murdered on April 21 – urged authorities to investigate the crimes as femicides instead of homicides and denounced that victims’ families had to badger authorities to get things done, which she described as humiliating.
Another of the march’s attendees, Mrs Tiburcio, said that these protest actions took place in the name of “all those who aren’t with us and the many women whose whereabouts we still don’t know.”
Being a woman in Ecatepec “is scary, because you don’t know if you’ll get back home safe and you don’t know which of those who are marching with us today could show up dead tomorrow,” Mrs Tiburcio told EFE.
Mrs Ramirez agreed that “being a woman in Ecatepec is very dangerous” and urged people grieving from the femicide of a woman close to them to “look for someone who will listen to them.”
“We’re not alone,” she added.
When the 50-odd protesters reached city hall, they were received by female members of the local government, including the city’s head of the Women’s Institute and gender equality councilor, who was booed by the activists.
The women demanded to speak to the mayor, Fernando Vilchis, but he declined to make an appearance.
At the local government building, the protester read out a manifesto accusing Vilchis’ administration of doing nothing even in the face of national and international pressure to fight the scourge of gender violence in Mexico, where 10 women are killed every day.
“We are disgusted by this city’s institutional weakness, by the authorities’ indifference, by the lack of concrete measures, the scarcity of results and the absence of clear statistics,” said one of the participants.
The state of Mexico – to which Ecatepec belongs – is a region with a high rate of insecurity that recorded 112 femicides in 2018, making it the worst area of the country in this regard, according to official government statistics.
That same year, there were 901 cases of femicide throughout the entire country.
Friday’s march in Ecatepec was prompted by the arrest of an officer of Mexico City’s Citizen Security Secretariat for raping a woman on the premises of the capital’s general prosecutor’s office.
According to local media, the victim had gone to the building to file a complaint about receiving threats and the officer took advantage of the fact that he had access to information about her to blackmail and sexually abuse her.
He was immediately arrested by fellow officers who caught him in the act and jailed pending trial.
Two weeks ago, another march took place in Mexico City’s Glorieta de Insurgentes square seeking to draw attention to recent instances of rape committed by police officers in the capital.
A few days earlier, on Aug. 12, a similar protest organized for the same reasons was held at the capital’s prosecutor’s office.
On July 10, Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, three cases of rape – with one of the victims being underage – at the hands of Mexico City police officers were reported, which sparked these protests demanding an institutional response to the crisis and justice for the victims.