Reckoning with feminicide, part 2
By Beth Connors-Manke
Editor’s note: In part 1 of this series, Beth wrote about the exhibit Wall of Memories: The Disappeared Señoritas of Ciudad Juárez by Lexington artist Diane Kahlo. Here, Beth reports more on the feminicide in Ciudad Juárez.
In 1993, young women began disappearing in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, which sits across the border from El Paso, Texas. The young women, often workers at the assembly plants along the border, are found around the city or in the desert, tortured and mutilated. Many believe that the murders are partially the result of neoliberal economic policies, drug trafficking, and governmental corruption. One can only say ‘partially’ because the murders have never been solved and the situation in Juárez is a confusing web of violence, drugs, conspiracies, and fear. While many news reports put the number at 350, scores more women are believed to have been killed under similar circumstances.
The murders in Juárez have haunted me for more than ten years. In the last few months, as I spoke with Diane Kahlo about her exhibit, looked at her portraits of the murdered girls and women, researched the situation in Juárez, the haunting has become more acute. Once one knows that brutality like the feminicide exists in the world, it becomes harder to believe that the civil society we enjoy here in the U.S. sits on an unshakable foundation. What we have here is not indelible; it exists only as long as we demand a just body politic and a safe community. When we relinquish safety and justice, society unravels—and very quickly.
This is the case with Juárez. Charles Bowden, who has reported on the city for years, calls it a “black hole in the body politic.” A black hole destabilizes everything around it.