The body of an elementary school girl was found on February 11, 2020, within the southern region of Mexico City. She was discovered within the confines of an abandoned plastic bag. Investigators have identified the 7-year-old girl as Fátima Aldrighett, a child who was first taken from the outside of Enrique C. Rebsamen primary school and then murdered. The cause of death has not been announced, but the body exhibited signs of torture (Ríos Espinosa, 2020).
The murder of Fátima was preceded two days before by the death of Ingrid Escamilla, a young, 25-year-old woman. Ingrid, also a woman from Mexico City, was allegedly murdered, skinned, and disemboweled by her boyfriend. Grotesque photos of her mutilated body were published by local media sources, after supposedly being leaked by police officers covering her case (Associated Press, 2020).
Tired of the persistent gender violence, many Mexicans gathered to protest the unjust deaths of Fátima and Ingrid. Mexico City is not a stranger to protests against the frequent femicides that plague the Mexican capital. Specifically, poor and indigenous women are the women who are most affected by this gender-based violence. A 2019 Mexico City crime report stated that the number of femicides in Mexico City rose to 68 in 2019 from 43 in 2018 (Díaz, 2020). Also, according to the data presented by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, at least 1,199 femicides occurred in Mexico from January 1, 2019, to April 30, 2019 (Pereda Martínez, 2020). This figure equates to an average rate of 10 femicides a day in Mexico. This first quarter of 2019 was the most violent for Mexican women, but steady rates persisted throughout 2019 (Pereda Martínez, 2020). These cases heighten the rage felt by Mexicans who criticize the lack of action against violence by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his administration.
In an article by the New York Times, Xóchitl Rodríguez, a representative from the feminist activist organization, Feminasty, details her frustrations with President López Obrador. Rodriguez. Rodríguez describes how President López Obrador "was supposed to represent a change and it turns out that he is not...The fact that you wake up in the morning and your president cannot reassure you on what specific actions he is taking to deal with the issue is outrageous" (Semple and Villegas, 2020). This statement reflects the sentiments of many Mexicans regarding how their government has not taken appropriate action against the increasing rate of femicides. The result has been not just a rise in the rate of femicides, but also an increase in protests and demonstrations that demand justice for women and condemn gender-based violence.
The persistent cases of femicide in Mexico reflect a system that does not protect or prioritize women. Laws targeting violence against women have been passed in both Mexico and 18 other Latin American countries facing a similar problem of gender-based violence. For example, Bolivia established the first law that specifically targets violence against women in politics. However, despite these efforts, Mexico and its peers have not experienced a significant reduction in the rate of femicides. The persistence of gender-based violence and deaths suggest a normalization and even a silent acceptance of gendered violence in Mexico.
The underlying sentiments of protestors demand a change to the social normalization of violence against women in Mexico. Women who protested the frequency and normalization of femicides in Mexico gathered before the Palacio Nacional, home to President López Obrador, and shouted:
"The patriarchy is a judge who tries us for being born and our punishment is the violence you see now.
It’s femicide, impunity for my murderer, it’s disappearance, it’s rape.
And it wasn’t my fault, not where I was, nor how I was dressed.
You are the rapist, you are the rapist.
It’s the police, the judges, the state, the president. The oppressive state is a macho rapist" (Pierson, 2019).