illustration of women and girls murdered in Mexico

Living Under a Death Sentence: Femicides in Mexico

illustration of women and girls murdered in Mexico

Illustration by Jessica Martinez

[CW: sexual assault, femicide, violence against women, graphic descriptions]

Being a woman in Mexico is punishable by death. Women of all ages, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds are in danger of being harassed, raped, disfigured, assassinated or disappeared at the hands of men every day. In a country where 10 women are killed daily and 100 women have been assassinated this year alone, being a woman is equal to a death sentence. 

Ingrid Escamilla from Mexico City was murdered, dismembered and skinned by her husband after a disagreement. Fátima Cecilia Aldrighett Antón from Xochimilco was only 7 years old when she was abducted outside of her elementary school; a week later, Fatima’s naked body was found inside a plastic bag with signs of sexual abuse and torture. Ingrid and Fatima’s deaths demonstrate consistent local police misshadlement and dismissal by higher authorities. Painfully, Mexican femicide cases are commonly mishandled and dismissed. 

Thousands of women took to the streets to protest the dismissal from authorities regarding the severity and pervasiveness of these crimes. They demanded action from the government in order to bring justice for all the women lost to femicide. Yet the message from authorities is loud and clear: they do not care. Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), held a press conference soon after the demonstrations where he focused on damages inflicted on national statues by protesters and reminded the public that he did not want his press conference to be “all to be about femicides.” AMLO’s tone-deaf response did nothing to help mitigate the root of the problem and made it clear that national statues are of more value than women’s lives. AMLO’s response also reveals the disregard women face every day at the hands of men, especially those in positions of power. 

Sadly, Mexican women are used to the police and the Mexican president dismissing them, they have heard the same excuses for decades. Women are taught to distrust the government, and rightfully so since the government usually protects the perpetrators of these crimes. Mexican authorities protect the perpetrators of these crimes by classifying women’s deaths as suicides and through their negligence in testing victims for signs of sexual abuse; this corruption leads to the femicide rates in Mexico to go underreported enabling authorities to ignore the problem further. So even when presidents like AMLO claim to have women’s best interest at heart, the statements should be taken with a grain of salt.

Women are tired of empty promises and vague action plans that never culminate into real change. That is why Brujas del Mar, a feminist collective in Veracruz, tweeted out a proposed day without women this upcoming March 9. Following International Women’s Day on March 8, March 9 will be a day where women do not go to work, school, or participate in any domestic work in order to demonstrate the importance of women to Mexican society and demand that the Mexican government enact policy changes to protect women.

The proposed national stop on March 9 took social media by storm with the hashtag #undíasinnosotras being used by thousands to show support and solidarity. Although celebrities and even corporations are showing support, the biggest support came from the families of the thousands of victims who never received justice. Although the majority of support is positive, some Twitter users stated their disagreement with women protesting in “aggressive” forms (i.e. vandalism and obstructing traffic). Disagreement has mostly taken the form of mockery of the movement and women themselves. This is a small glimpse of how the dismissal of femicides by higher authorities has normalized violence against women to the point where it is okay to laugh and dismiss the more than 100 women murdered this year alone. 

So to those who do not understand the pain and anger women are displaying, I will reiterate Elideth Yesenia Zamudio’s powerful words after taking to the streets: “Whoever wants to break things, let them; whoever wants to burn things, let them; and whoever doesn’t want to take part… Get out of the way!” Elideth’s daughter María de Jesús Jaime Zamudio was thrown out of a window in 2016 after being assaulted by four men, yet Mexican authorities were adamant to rule her death a suicide. She has fought for change ever since.

A life of constantly looking over your shoulder is not a life, yet this is the reality for women all throughout Mexico. 63 million women currently face an imminent death sentence due to their gender; that is why I plead that you show solidarity to the women fighting for a safer Mexico by standing next to your sisters this coming March 9. The lives of 63 million women could change if the voices of Mexican women are heard but this will only be possible if we all stand and demand change.

digital illustration of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Taco Bell with the question Who Has Access? on top

The US and the Growing Food Gap

digital illustration of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Taco Bell with the question Who Has Access? on top

Illustration by: Jessica Martinez

The food gap between the rich and the poor in American society is growing and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Studies have noted that income inequality has led to a dangerous public health crisis that exponentially affects the poorest groups of people. All across the world, the wealthiest people have access to high-quality, nutritious food while low-income people are increasingly barred from accessing these foods. In the United States, the food gap has a direct correlation to income inequality and it has led to an increase in disease within low-income Americans. Low-income Americans are more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases as seen by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index in 2010. While people in the lower socioeconomic brackets suffer from diet-related issues, obesity is typically least prevalent within the higher socioeconomic brackets. 

This issue is prevalent when comparing food access in two major Los Angeles neighborhoods. In Westwood, Whole Foods, Ralphs, and Trader Joes are among some of the major grocery stores available to consumers in the immediate area. Except for In-N-Out and Chick-fil-A, Westwood is relatively devoid of fast food options. This reflects the demographics that Westwood has. Westwood’s population is 63% white with 20% of households in the area making a median income of upwards of $125,000. Though Westwood has a substantial population of people under the age of 25 (the prime age bracket for McDonald’s customers), the nearest McDonald’s is 1.8 miles away. This is problematic when you take into consideration that the majority of the population under age 25 are students, who do not have access to cars and use walking as their preferred mode of transportation. Compare this to the nearest Whole Foods which is merely 0.8 miles away from the UCLA dorms in Westwood and Ralphs which is 0.6 miles away. Whole Foods and Ralphs are among the most feasible options for grocery stores for students who are walking into the main commercial area of Westwood. 

When compared to South Central only 13 miles away from Westwood, demographics and food access both shift. South Central’s population is 57% Latinx and a majority of its households have a median income of $33,999. In the area surrounding USC, which also has a substantial population of people under the age of 25, fast food places are everywhere with options like a McDonald’s 0.7 miles away and a Jack in the Box 0.5 miles away from the main campus. 

The demographics for the customers of these food options showcase the food gap in society. The average Whole Foods customer is 154% more likely to earn more than $200,000 which is a major drop from McDonald’s 29% of customers who earn an annual income of less than $20,000. Ralphs also shows similar customer demographics to Whole Foods, with the majority of customers being white and making over $125,000 but the average customer age range is slightly older, age 25-44. These demographics show that the food gap within society is one of the major issues that this country faces. 

The issue of food gaps runs deeper than it appears and ultimately comes from economic inequalities that tie into race. It is no surprise that the areas that have demographics with a higher population of POC are more likely to have fast food places as accessible options. The issue of food access inequality highlights the widening gap between the rich and the poor. While the rich can afford to buy high-quality food, the poor have limited options and are surrounded by generally unhealthy selections. As a society, we cannot stand idly while a majority of our population suffers the consequences of the growing food gap.