Mexico confronts surge in violence against women

Facing crisis of gender-based violence, Puebla city classifies murders of more than 90 women this year as acts of femicide.

Puebla, Mexico – Gabriela Molina Herrera says she lives in fear.

Less than a month ago, her younger sister was sexually assaulted and murdered. Her sister’s body was found on the side of a road.

“Because of the way my sister’s body was found, at first sight it was deemed a femicide, and as the newspapers reported, she had been strangled,” Molina Herrera told Al Jazeera.

Like so many places in Mexico, Puebla is facing a crisis of gender-based violence.

The state has classified the murders of more than 90 women this year as acts of femicide, or the intentional killing of girls and women simply because they are female.

Mexico ranks among the most dangerous countries in the world for women, where organised crime and human trafficking are said to play a big role in the death rate.

Ibrahim Zamora Salazar, a local women’s rights activist, said the problem stems from “male privilege”.

Men kill women, he said, “because they believe women are worth less or they believe that their lives belong to them”.

“To help raise awareness about the problem, the Mexican government has enlisted the help of more than 170 tortilla shops across the state,” Al Jazeera’s Manuel Rapalo, reporting from Puebla, said.

“They are wrapping customers’ orders in pamphlets with information about violence against women and an emergency number women can call for help.”


Octavio Dominguez, a local shop owner who is participating in the campaign, said: “This is a good thing and it benefits us all to help women be informed.”

Protests calling for an end to violence against women in Mexico have also been held across the country.

A common refrain at these demonstrations is “not one more”, a reference to the high number of femicides.

Yet despite these efforts, the problem continues.

Since Molina Herrera’s sister was murdered, five more women have also been killed in Puebla.

“Women shouldn’t have to end up as a number or as some case file,” Molina Herrera said.

“Women have a face, we don’t deserve to be killed, or to be hurt, or to be threatened or raped. Not one more, not one more woman killed in Puebla, or in Mexico, or in the world.”