Juárez women add 118 names to the Cross of Nails

2 diciembre, 2022

Mothers of dissapeared women and activists from the Ciudad Juárez Women’s Movement marched in downtown Juárez to denounce the government’s failure to prevent, attend to, punish and erradicate violence against women.

Text and photos by Verónica Martínez, originally published November 26, 2022 in La Verdad.

CIUDAD JUÁREZ—So far this year, 118 women from Ciudad Juárez have been added to the tally of those who never return home. The names of 39 of them are written on tags which were hung by purple ribbons on the Cross of Nails anti-monument, located at the Paso del Norte International Bridge. Another 79 blank tags were hung for women who disappeared but were never identified.

The action was carried out by mothers of women who are disappeared and activists from the Ciudad Juárez Women’s Movement, including members of the Red Mesa de Mujeres, SinViolencia AC, Casa Amiga Esther Chávez Cano, the Independent Popular Organization (OPI) and Grupo Compañeros. The action was part of a demonstration in the context of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th.

“It’s an annual tradition to end our march at the Cross of Nails, which shows the daily reality that many women in our state face. The anti-monument reminds us that it was the grandmothers, the mothers and sisters who were the ones who searched for a sign, among whispers and voices, and it is they who continue to wait for their daughters to return home. Today we add another 118 names to the cross [of women who disappeared] this year, in 2022,” according to the manifesto of the groups participating in the march to demand the right to live without violence. 

The march began in Founder’s Square, across from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, in downtown Juárez. November 25 was a cold day with a drizzle in the morning. Even so, around 50 people marched down Vicente Guerrero Street and up Francisco Villa Avenue towards the Municipal Women’s Institute.

In front of the public institution, the organizations stated that the context of violence in the city hasn’t ended. Rather, it has been getting worse for more than 30 years.

The Red Mesa de Mujeres noted that since 1992 there have been 794 cases of femicides in Juárez, as well as an additional 1,681 homicides against women between 2010 and 2022, according to statistics from the State Attorney General.

The numbers, the anger

  • 117 femicides from 1992 to 1996
  • 145 feminicides from 1997 to 2001
  • 149 femicides from 2002 to 2006
  • 122 femicides from 2007 to 2012
  • 133 femicides from 2013 to 2017
  • 128 femicides from 2018 to 2022 (to November 18)
  • 1681 homicides of women from 2010 to 2022

“The Ciudad Juárez Women’s Movement takes a strong stand against the omission of responsibility for the state in preventing, attending to, punishing, and erradicating violence against women in Chihuahua,” said Yadira Cortez, member of Red Mesa de Mujeres.

There were many complaints voiced by participants during the march. Lydia Cordero, general director of Casa Amiga, mentioned that people without the right experience or the right profile are contracted for frontline work; there is a lack of sensitivity and a lack of gender based training, and an overload of work, which makes it impossible for state organizations to attend to women properly.

“We see all three levels of government giving greater support to other areas than they do to the attention, prevention and erradication of violence against women and girls,” said Cordero.

“We are witnesses to how the institutes dedicated to supporting women struggle a lot because of the budgets they have and the massive number of women they attend,” she said.

The organizations are also pushing for the emergency shelter located in the Women’s Justice Center (CEJUM) to be opened up and made operational. Chihuahua government officials say they have invested 2.7 million pesos (US$135,000) into the CEJUM in Chihuahua City and Juárez, but both remain closed due to a lack of funding and personnel.

“These are just a few of the problems we see, and we think it is urgent that all of the areas of government that provide services to women and girls be comprehensively evaluated,” read the statement prepared by members of the movement.

The march continued down Francisco Villa Avenue, along Abraham González Street and finally along Juárez Avenue, until it arrived to the Cross of Nails. The marchers did a call and response: “Not one more! Alive they took them, alive they must be returned!” Then they walked the last few meters of their march in a near total silence, under the low clouds on the cool November day. The sounds of their steps echoed alongside the ringing of a gender alert.

This article was written by LA VERDAD, a member of the media alliance of the Red de Periodistas de a Pie. You can read the original here.