3 August, 2009 — Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Juárez is nicknamed ‘the capital of murdered women.’ The border city of 1.5 million inhabitants draws tens of thousands of young women from small, poor towns with $55-a-week jobs in maquiladoras operated by such wealthy major corporations as General Electric, Alcoa, and DuPont. According to Amnesty International, more than 800 bodies had been found as of February 2005, and over 3,000 women are still missing. These mass murders of women have been dubbed a ‘femicide’ by the popular media, which is defined as the systematic killing of women due to their gender. Though the disappearance, kidnapping, and murder of women in Juárez has been chronicled by the media and grudgingly acknowledged by the Mexican government authorities have pretty much dropped its investigation of the femicides as of August 2006, remaining all but indifferent to calls for action.
Setting the Stage
Juárez has become a prosperous, industrial city as a result of new economic policies that have encouraged the maquiladoras, factories that import materials for assembly and then re-export the assembled product, to become a fixed aspect of the local and national economy. Lured by the booming economy and job availability, many women and their families have left their homes to live in Ciudad Juárez. In order to make sense of the femicides occurring in Juárez, it is important to understand the underlying economic policies that have encouraged women to migrate to Juárez, despite the danger of the high female murder rate.
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