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Mexico Faces a Day Without Women in Protest of Femicide

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 08: Demonstrators clah with police during a rally on International Women's Day on March 8, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images)

Female protesters clash with Police on international Women’s Day. Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images

“March 9, no one moves.” That’s the rallying cries that has led to a massive protest in Mexico today. In the wake of rising and horrifying violence against women and girls, millions of women are staying home and forcing Mexico to contemplate a “Un dia sin mujeres” (a day without women).

This demonstration comes after many years of escalating violence against women in Mexico, which has only grown worse in recent months to what’s been called an “epidemic” of femicide–the murder of women and girls based on their gender. Women in Mexico are, according to the Washington Post, highly more likely to be killed in the home or family (25% or female homicides compared to 10% for men).

Though all violence in Mexico is rising, the violence against women is staggering. In 2019, femicide rose 10% in 2019 with about 1,000 cases. The jump over the last five years was a horrifying 137%. Counting all murders an average of 10 women were killed per day in Mexico. PER. DAY. These stark numbers were only exacerbated by grisly murders in the early months of 2019, including one of a woman who was partially skinned by her husband and another of a seven-year-old girl.

Women in the country have had enough. Protests of femicide, sexual assault and violence against women have already been on the rise in Mexico, as well as other Latin American countries. The anti-sexual assault anthem “A Rapist in Your Path” from Chile has become a protest song now performed across Latin America, as a new iteration of the #MeToo movement gains steam.

In Mexico, International Women’s Day was already a day of protest against violence against women, but the idea of a national strike to follow up the protest by women gained steam on social media only recently. According to Arussi Unda, a spokeswoman for Veracruz feminist organization Brujas del Mar (the Sea Witches), who spoke to the Washington Post, the idea came from Mexican actress and feminist advocate Vanessa Bauche. She was “inspired by the 2004 film “A Day Without a Mexican,” which envisioned what would happen if all the Mexicans in California vanished.

Yesterday women in unprecedented numbers took to the streets across Latin America to demand an end to violence against women, and to rally for abortion rights and equality, but today they will stay home. Not only in Mexico but in Argentina as well. Many companies, like Walmart, are supportive of the strike and will allow their female employees to be absent for the day. But many others are not, and additionally, not all women can afford to miss a day of work.

The county expects many of the 21 million female workers to strike, which might cost the economy $300 million US dollars. “What we want to provoke is that they see that if we’re not there, the city won’t circulate. That there are many of us. What are they going to do without us if they are killing us?” said Viviana Mendez, told the New York Times.

The impact of this strike and the protest yesterday, have yet to be seen. Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has so far responded poorly to this deepening crisis, blaming the right-wing for these protests and claiming the free market will sort things out. In the face of these tone-deaf responses and failures, López Obrador’s approval ratings have fallen.

Perhaps a day without women will be the thing it takes for leaders to truly begin to address this crisis. And doing that means believing women when they say they are in danger or have been victimized, not allowing the markets to save their lives.

(via The Washington Post)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.