‘I am scared to simply be a woman in Mexico’

Thousands of women took to the streets here Tuesday, demanding an end to gender-based killings they say are rooted in a culture of machismo and urging the government do more to protect them.

“Not one more assassination!” they chanted as they marched down Paseo de la Reforma, pumping their fists.

A typical sign they carried: “I march because I’m alive and I don’t know for how long.”

The feminist movement has been gaining ground across Latin America in recent years. The protest, held on International Women’s Day, focused on femicide — a term used to describe the killing of women because of their gender.

The Mexican government logged 1,006 such homicides last year, up from 978 in 2020. Activists say the real numbers are higher.

A 2021 report by Amnesty International on femicide in the state of Mexico found that authorities often failed to conduct tests to determine whether a victim had also been sexually assaulted, a factor in classifying a killing as a femicide.

Adriel Vazquez, 20, marched wearing a white dress that she had stained with red paint, symbolizing what she described as “the blood that has run through Mexico that no one has paid attention to.”

“We are tired of this,” said Vazquez, who studies psychology and industrial design at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “I am scared to go out every day. I am scared to simply be a woman in Mexico.”

Hundreds of female police walked alongside the protesters. That didn’t prevent activists whose faces were covered with black cloth from spray-painting government statues with the gender symbol for women.

Once the procession reached the Zocalo, the city’s central square, protesters banged against metal barricades in front of the National Palace and lighted small bonfires.

“AMLO, don’t be afraid of us!” they shouted, using the president’s initials. “AMLO, you are a liar! You don’t care about women!”

Mothers who said their daughters were killed were given microphones to share their testimony.

“You’re not alone,” the audience chanted.

Activists said their tactics are justified in a country where those who kill women are rarely held accountable.

“The city seems more important than women,” said a 24-year-old woman holding a can of spray paint who declined to give her name.

She motioned to the buildings around her. “Is all of this more important than me?”

The Yucatan Times
Newsroom

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