Exhibit focuses on murders and torture of Mexicanas

Nikki Ogilvie

GROSSMONT COLLEGE  — Walking through the Hyde Art Gallery, I was drawn to photographs of two young women who could not have been much older
than I am. Below the photos was a small shelf with informational packets and a
bowl full of dried corn husks. I could not figure out what a bowl of husks had
to do with these two photos, but as I looked closer, I noticed each husk had a
name written on it. Curiosity took hold of me, and I picked up one of the
packets sitting on the shelf and began to read a list of over 280 names, all of
which were those of young Mexican women who had been murdered, beaten or mutalated in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Over the past 10 years, the Mexican city of Juarez has suffered the murder of 268 females and the disapperance of 250 more women.  In 1999, the murders reached
Chihuahua City. The horrible wave of violence against women in Mexico and Latin
America is unfathomable, but worse, according to the exhibit materials, the
Mexican authorities have done virtually nothing about it. The laws that currently exist are not being upheld and legislation to regulate violence and sexual assult against women is desperately needed. There is no one single perpetrator, but “a generalized atmosphere of impunity facilitates all of them.”

The simple liberties that all of us have come to expect, such as the right to live in safety and the right to due process, all have been repeatedly violated in Mexico. For years, the victims’ families have led scores of protests and rallies against the authorities failure to respond and protect the citizens of the city. Justice For Our Daughters (JFOD) was formed in 2002 in Chihuahua City, and is made up of the victims’ families, supporters and legal advocates, all fighting for justice and human rights in Mexico. The group tries to call attention to the growing population of working young women in Mexico, and to end the stigmatization against women who must work to support themselves or their families.


JFOD also demands, “the creation of new laws to promote public safety, proper legal management of missing person cases and scientifically accurate identification of human remains.” The protestors also demand that state officials who fail to uphold their duty to fulfill the laws should be punished. Further, JFOD contends, the Mexican State of
Chihuahua, in its failure to protect the women, is “responsible for the perpetuation of these crimes”, and should be subject to sanction from the international community.

The organzation asserts that both families and supporters of the victims have been subjected to repression by agents of the Mexican State, just for demanding justice, seeking support from the international community and excercising their right of freedom of expression. The protestors have been beaten, falsely accused of crimes, defamed
publicly and harassed, all because they fight for the rights that give their lost daughters justice.

JFOD has become a larger scale campaign, with protests held around the world on Dia De Los Meurtas, the Mexican Day of The Dead, as well as marches held in America to the Mexican consulates. An online petition at press time had drawn 5,499 signatures — myself being the 5,499th.

Personally, I have not been moved by something so much in quite some time. Standing in front of the photographs of Julieta Marlena Gonzalez Venezuela and Minerva Torres Albeldano, two faces of hundreds, I felt an emotion inside of me that had not been stirred in a long time. If I had seen an exhibit of every girls’ photo, it would become so large in scale that it would not have felt real, but in seeing just two faces out of
nearly 300, the reality of it became overwhelming. This is happening as we go
about our daily lives, and, according to reports, officials just step aside and
turn a blind eye. As for me, my eyes are now opened.

To sign the petition or get involved, you can go to:

http://www.petitiononline.com/NIUNAMAS/petition.html

*

Ogilvie is pursuing business courses at Grossmont College. [email protected]