Mexico is the global reference point for violence against women. During the 1990s, the unsolved murders of over 400 young women in Ciudad Juárez launched an international crusade for justice, producing Hollywood films, academic studies, and countless news stories. Thrown into the international spotlight by the Juárez murders, the country remains exceptionally dangerous for women. An average of six women are killed every day and the country’s female homicide rate of around 3.8 per 100,000 ranks it within the top twenty by some counts. Despite the magnitude of the problem, impunity, accountability, and awareness remain persistent issues.

The Trans-Border Institute’s Femicide Project is an innovative collaborative, public effort to produce the data necessary to address the gender violence crisis. Produced in partnership with local activists, journalists, and university researchers, our original case-level database tracks patterns and trends in gender violence since 2008. Better, more public data will allow for more effective policymaking, enable researchers to identify the impacts of policy or civil society interventions, and hold policymakers accountable for inaction.

A data-driven approach is vital. More than a decade of chronic drug violence has tended to obscure femicide as a phenomenon, with murders of women casually attributed to drug cartel activity. More importantly, the relationship between cartel activity, organized crime, chronic violence, and gender-based violence is unclear. We do not know, for example, how events such as extreme violence or military occupation reshape trends in intimate partner violence, and that information is crucial to formulating lasting, effective responses. And developing policies that ensure women’s safety and their ability to participate in the public sphere free from fear is an essential step if Mexican society is to recover from the current tragedy.

The open-access reports available here may be reused with permission.