Ciudad Juarez, a maquiladora-driven border city near El Paso, Texas, has been the site of over 380 unsolved murders of women - called femicides - over the past decade. Since 2002, these murders and disappearances have extended to Chihuahua, the capital of the state.
Many of the victims were raped or tortured and many showed signs of ritual murder. Despite the horrific nature of these crimes authorities at all levels have exhibited indifference or have blamed the victims "for wearing provocative clothing." To date, only one person is in prison and there are no significant efforts to improve safety for women. Investigators mishandle or destroy evidence, threaten family members who press for justice, and use torture to extract "confessions." The inefficiency of the authorities to resolve the crimes has created a climate of impunity for the perpetrators.
The root of this epidemic of femecides is found in the poverty and economic disparity that ravages Mexico, much of it the result of free trade policies, crushing international debt and U.S. subsidies for corporate agricultural producers. Almost all the women murdered in Ciudad Juarez were desperately poor, and half of them worked in maquiladoras.
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