"Marisela paid for her courage and determination with her life"
Martha Tagle is a feminist activist and politician in Mexico City. She is at the forefront of a recent campaign to legalize abortion
in Mexico, as well as many campaigns to end violence against women. She participated in a march last week to demand that those responsible for Marisela Escobar’s death be brought to justice.
The case of Marisela Escobar and her daughter is an absolute, horrific tragedy. It seems there is a deadly vendetta going on against her family. These criminals enjoy complete impunity. Even after her murder, police did nothing to prevent armed men from burning down her partner’s lumber yard
. Her sons are terrified; they too have received death threats.
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that no matter how tragic this story is, it is just one case among tens of thousands of murdered women in Mexico. The only reason Marisela’s daughter was remembered was because her mother refused to give up. She was very courageous, but she paid for it with her life.
Fifteen years ago, we feminists were already sounding the alarm over the phenomenon of “femicidios” (female murder victims) that were taking place in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Hundreds of women disappeared each year. Some were found dead in the desert, others never found. The killings weren’t only linked to organized crime (drug trafficking, organ trafficking or prostitution). The level of violence has reached such a point that anybody can rape or kill a woman and get away with it.
“We are seeing the consequence of years of government inaction to stop violence against women”
Nevertheless, despite years of awareness-raising campaigns, protests, marches, and public pledges by politicians, the government has failed to take any real, efficient measures to solve the problem. It just doesn’t seem to be one of their priorities. Even in a relatively high-profile case like Escobedo’s, the government has appeared to wash its hands off any responsibility. Marisela sat outside the governor’s office for one week before she was shot dead on his doorstep. Not once did he agree to speak to her, or even acknowledge her presence. After she was shot, all the authorities did was to suspend the three judges who ordered the release of her daughter’s murderer, and issue a warrant for a man corresponding to the description of the man who shot her. No additional protective measures were set up, no strong public statements were made.
I think today we are seeing the consequences of years of government inaction to stop violence against women in Ciudad Juarez, but also in all of Mexico. We feminists are determined not to let the issue drop this time. During our protest, we [a delegation of feminists] demanded to meet the relevant authorities before January 7, 2011, to discuss concrete measures to be taken, both in Escobedo’s individual case, and more generally. We are still awaiting a response.”
Photo: Pablo Ramos
Photo: Pablo Ramos
Women protest after the murder of Marisela Escobedo in Mexico City on Friday, December 17. Photos posted on Facebook by Martha Tagle.