On average, ten women are killed every day in Mexico. Before the growing concern over COVID-19 throughout the world and the cancelling of large-scale events, on March 8th and 9th, tens of thousands of women vanished from homes, offices and classrooms across Mexico, part of a nationwide strike to protest the violence they suffer and to demand government action against it.
The strike and march was hoped to be a turning point for Mexico, a nation that has long failed to mitigate gender-based violence. Unfortunately, women in Mexico have been living with worry for decades due to the continuing increase in femicides, which is the intentional killing of females because they are females. In 2019, Mexican officials registered 1,006 such killings, a 10 percent leap over the year before.
The wide-ranging support for both the march and strike was heavily inspired by the global #MeToo movement and by outrage over the recent killings of 25 year old Ingrid Escamilla, who was killed and skinned, and of 7 year old Fátima Cecilia Aldrighett, who was abducted at school and was found dead in a plastic bag.
The movement has turned into a significant political challenge for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been one of Latin America’s most well-respected leaders. His approval ratings have sunk as he has responded in what many view as an inept way to aid the families of victims of femicides and other women who were victims of gender-based violence. López Obrador told a large gathering, “I’m in favor of women’s causes, but I don’t want the separation of men and women.” Claudia Ramírez, a female government economist, was among many who was driven into the streets by López Obrador’s remarks. She said, “The response of this administration leaves a lot to be desired. That’s what made me come.”