~ This article was originally published by Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO on March 31, 2016 ~
Celia’s mother has gone “several” months since she last saw her daughter. “She is dead, like many other women in this community, in this state, and in the entire country. She was not yet 25, she had left school, but not because she was foolish but because she had no way to make money. She told me she chose her career because she was going to save people. I thought only doctors could do that, but she said that social workers also saved, because they tried to pull people out of tragedy, but she was swallowed by a tragedy before she finished her studies.
“She was killed by a boy that they say has fled. I did not know that she had a boyfriend, I knew her girlfriends but that was it. Sometimes I cry because she never told me why, now I know it was because when she fought with him he threatened her that she had to marry him and stop going to school, and she did not want to. When she did it was because she did not have any money, but she was applying for a fellowship and because she was insisting on continuing her studies one night he beat her to death. First in the stomach, then in the face and almost took out her eye. The police showed up, but there was no investigation, they gave me her body very quickly. Some neighbors said they could testify that whenever she was at that house he was violent and that he was also violent with them.
“But there was no time for witnesses or charges because they closed the case, they said that the perpetrator had escaped, and therefore they could not investigate, they said a few other things that I did not understand. I went home to continue crying for my daughter, and I still am, because I do not know what else to do if those who are supposed to search for the murderer say they cannot. What more can you do? We are at their mercy here in Nacaveb, and as women here we should be quiet, since if a woman by herself tries to demand things from the authorities, from the police, nobody pays attention. We don’t matter,” says the mother in a testimony provided to Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO.
The social researcher Lila Carrera, who compiled testimonies on gender violence and femicides told Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO, “the women who have been victimized in Sinaloa are part of the general insecurity and violence that is present in the country’s northern states where narcotrafficking has wreaked havoc and those responsible for justice have stopped caring that there are lives lost every day.
“Femicides are on the list of errors that Sinaloa’s state government has committed, the result of impunity, indifference toward gender, and negligence that has taken root in the police stations that have thrown justice away. Each and every one of the so-called ‘public policies’ that assert that the authorities have helped to ‘permeate’ the problem have only served as palliatives against criticism and the demands of international organizations that demand strategies to avoid the violent deaths and to obtain punishment of the guilty.”
At the start of this month, the Collective of Active Sinaloan Women petitioned the federal government to declare a Gender Alert in Sinaloa in the face of 21 femicides during the first two months of the year, a figure that is almost triple the eight cases from the same period in 2015.
During the current gubernatorial administration in Sinaloa, there have been 409 violent murders of women, with diverse motives—among them domestic violence—that fall under the category of femicides. “Nevertheless, it is preferable for the authorities to not classify them as such, because it demonstrates their poor performance as authorities in protecting the citizenry, and even this is not working because it is obvious to everyone that there is an epidemic of femicides in the state,” says Carrera.
For its part, the Committee has released statements asserting that the Gender Alert will not stop the violent deaths of women, as no such action can do that, but it can inhibit violence and protect women by developing various actions and programs.
The Collective has requested the declaration of a Gender Alert in the municipalities of Culiacán, Mazatlán, Ahome, Guasave, and Navolato. At the same time it has released a document stating that “it has been impossible to reduce the violence against women in Sinaloa; on the contrary, this type of violence has continued to increase, and the number of women who have been killed at the hands of their partners, ex-partners, family members, and strangers has multiplied during recent years.”
The information provided by the state attorney general’s office reveals that from 2005 to the present, 785 women have been killed; 356 during the administration of Jesús Aguilar Padilla, and 409 thus far during the administration of Mario López Valdez.
With regards to domestic violence, from January, 2005 to December, 2015, there were 15,223 complaints, 90% filed by women, of which around 70% were cases of victims at high-risk of violence. Academic studies have shown that such cases are the principal cause of femicides in the country.
“Unfortunately, it is unlikely that a Gender Alert will be issued, since for quite a while we have been demanding that something be done about femicides and the state government’s response has been nil; they have had meetings with businesswomen, talking about how to solve the problem, but those have only been breakfasts or lunches that served as photo-ops, a flattering news story, and the death and violence against women continues not to be taken seriously, which is obviously alarming,” Carrera notes.
On March 30, the president of the Collective of Active Sinaloan Women, Teresa Guerra Ochoa, asked for impartiality from the working group that the Interior Ministry will designate to investigate violence against women in the state and determine whether a Gender Alert should be issued.
She reported that the commission arrived in Sinaloa last Monday to begin its investigations, but that it was being guided by the Sinaloan Institute for Women [a state government agency]. Guerra Ochoa observed that “there is no impartiality because the Institute for Women has taken the position that a Gender Alert is not necessary.
“If the commission has come to work under the guidance of the Institute for Women, then their vision is going to be a partial vision,” she said. She noted that she is not trying to diminish the work of the group, nevertheless, the Collective “is worried that it is the Institute that is guiding them and that they are even working at the Institute’s offices.”
“Sinaloa is enmeshed in the problem of femicides, and the struggle is to make the authorities separate themselves from the machismo, hatred, lack of interest, and disinformation, and provide support to the citizenry, without simply taking actions that are propaganda.”
“Just at the end of February a young woman was found shot several times with an AK-47 in Culiacán, she was identified as Susana Cuén Higuera, 25 years-old.
“According to the authorities, they received a report of a young woman who had been shot, and when municipal police arrived to the scene they found the woman lifeless, lying against a fence surrounded by brush, and at the scene found shells from an AK-47.
“According to the authorities, the young woman had been kidnapped by armed men who took her from her house aboard an automobile, which has not been confirmed, and the press has not followed the case, they have simply remained quiet until the next one happens and they will once again publish something then leave it aside, which is contrary to the state government that is not even interested in knowing about dead women because impunity is their form of governing,” the specialist added.
This article was originally published by Revolución TRESPUNTOCERO on March 31, 2016 under the title ““A mi hija la tragedia se la tragó antes de finalizar sus estudios”: madre de víctima de feminicidio en Sinaloa” and is available at: http://revoluciontrespuntocero.com/a-mi-hija-la-tragedia-se-la-trago-antes-de-finalizar-sus-estudios-madre-de-victima-de-feminicidio-en-sinaloa/
Translation by Michael Lettieri, Trans-Border Institute