Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Women Targeted by Mexico Drug Violence

Written by Clare Forsythe
In Sight

Many female migrants from Mexico to the U.S. have been displaced by violence, often linked to organized crime, with Mexican women targeted by sex traffickers, gender-based killings, and often recruited by criminal gangs themselves.

A recent press release from womens’ advocacy group REDGE said that most female migrants from Mexico to the U.S. are escaping violence and insecurity. The organization said this was a bigger driver of illegal migration by Mexican females than the more commonly cited motivation of joining their male relatives or partners in the U.S.

The drug conflict currently engulfing Mexico hits women in a number of ways. One is the phenomenon of “femicide;” gender-based killings of women, which seem to accompany more generalized drug violence. The most well-known example is Ciudad Juarez, a hub for the drug trade, located on the U.S. border, where hundreds or even thousands of women have been found dead and sometimes mutilated in apparently gender-based crimes in the last 20 years. The reasons for these killings are often unclear, but they are often described as linked to the general atmosphere of violence and impunity, as well as the macho culture around the drug trade in the city. The situation has not improved in Juarez -- the state of Chihuahua, where it is located, reportedly saw a record number of women murdered in 2010, with some 370 killings. The state has already seen 222 murders of women so far in 2011.

Another threat to women is posed by sex trafficking. As InSight Crime has highlighted, drug trafficking organizations in Mexico have increasingly turned to this trade as an alternative revenue source in the wake of government crackdowns on the drug trade. This has resulted in an increase in the number of disappeared women and girls, a significant proportion of whom are believed to have been kidnapped by criminal groups for this purpose.

Female illegal migrants constitute particularly easy targets for sex trafficking and sexual assaults by these gangs. As undocumented migrants, they are already far less likely to be reported as missing, and less likely to report violence or abuse to the authorities. This makes the illegal crossing into the U.S., already a dangerous undertaking, even more perilous for women migrants than for their male counterparts, as their gender means they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

Women can be the perpetrators, as well as the victims, of organized crime. A recent report in the New York Times noted that there had been a 400 percent increase in the number of women incarcerated for federal crimes in Mexico since 2007 -- this covers most activity linked to organized crime. The newspaper noted that increasing numbers of women actively participate in these criminal organizations, acting as drug mules, as “honeytraps” in kidnapping operations, and even as assassins. The tasks carried out by many of these individuals seem to play on the traditional image of women in Mexican society, exploiting the fact that they are more likely to be assumed to be innocent (useful for drug smuggling) or otherwise using their beauty as bait to lure men.

Equally, it seems that a grey area has evolved between victim and participants, as the New York Times points out. It is not always clear to what extent the women participating in organized criminal groups do so out of free will, or as the result of having been forcibly recruited or tricked by drug gangs, as some claim.

In any case, what has become clear is that women are by no means bystanders to the violence in Mexico, and that, whether chosen or not, many are directly caught up in the drug war.


  1. Sucks to know Mexico is a country that does this as well we all know Germany and France are real big on this aswell

  2. Where is the morality?

  3. @ 10:34 PM...Germany and France? Help me understand that one. Femicide in France? I always looked at French women as being some of the most independent women. You lost me.

    Prior to Calderon and the great drug wars, the women of Mexico were becoming more independent and establishing a path of less oppression. They were finding employment in the factories and were more ideal workers in the assembly lines. Not without macho resistance which Juarez is the perfect example with the serial killings. I am sure the cartel wars and military actions have been a tremendous setback for them.

    The hole phenomenon of this drug war is a culture buster and to even think about this war continuing without a truce is unconscionable. I really wonder what the depression and suicide rates are in Mexico. Wow, you can't go out after 7:00 PM, can't drive a nice car, and have to give half of your income to the cartel because they want it (Acapulco teachers). And if the cartel doesn't charge you a fee, the police or military do. There is nowhere to report abuse because you could be reporting it to their very boss. Family members reported their sisters and daughters being killed in Juarez and the police would charge the reporting family member of the crime because it was actually a police officer that did it. There is untold numbers that went unreported because of this. There is only one way out of this atrocity run away train but it doesn't even need to be said for it falls on deaf ears with enormous egos.

  4. Men are being skinned alive and feminists still try to turn these evils into more female victimhood.

    There is truly no level that these beasts won't sink to.

  5. @theantifeminest...I have followed the serial killings of women in Juarez since they first were reported in 1993. Sick predators were actively seeking young vulnerable girls, doing what the wanted to, and killing them with extreme and sick violence. It was one of the most unjust things committed by men to women I could imagine. They were raping them repeatedly, torturing them, and biting off their nipples before they killed them. It was men committing these crimes and men covering them up. Women were not committing these crimes. I am absolutely not a feminist, but I am most certainly not a male chauvinist either.

    We read articles everyday about the horrible crimes committed against men in Mexico. It makes me sick just as it does you. But an article comes out in defense of women in Mexico, one article, and you act like it took the light all the way off what is happening to men in Mexico.

    Is there an uneven power base with men versus women in Mexico? Absolutely! Why would this article offend you. By looking at your name, it makes me wonder what happened to you to make you hate women so much. I personally like them very much and it really challenges me in every area when I see atrocities happening to people much less able to defend themselves. I doubt you have a wife, she probably left you, but I am positive you do not have a daughter. If you do, well, I'm gonna leave that alone.

  6. The Juarez Femiscides were being committed by the Juarez Cartel. If you had the cash and the mindset, they would grab a girl and set you up in a place where you could do whatever you wanted to her. I am sure some powerful politicians and rich Americans(and other foreigners) were into it too.
    You might argue duress, or say that he was told to say that, but if you see the video of Patricia Gonzales's brother, he talks about the femiscides, and how people like El Grande would pay the Juarez Cartel to kill and rape women.

  7. @ 12:08 PM...There were so many different things going on with the Juarez murders. You mentioned one of them. Many were done by rouge cops. Many by serial predators. Street gangs used the act for initiations. Rich kids did it for fun. It was so broad and wide spread throughout the city, no individual or group could have ever been that busy. It was a sick time, went on for years, nobody could stop it, and it continues without interruption today.

  8. It is the Latino culture as a whole...I am Latino myself and came from a "typical" abusive family where my father was El Rey. Many in my growing up barrio were wore off than my familia.

    Mexico is still a primitive nation in many respects. Where you would expect this NOT to be true is among the advantage classes (rich, powerful) but, even here it is a malignant reality. I have witnessed well traveled, educated, rich Mexicans abuse those around them of lesser status.

    Violence is just below the surface in most things Mexicans do or invent. It is sickeningly fascinatingwhat is happening down there... but it is also understandable from a historical and sociological perspective/

    Violence, throughout Latin America, is culturally endemic whether it is manifested in oppressing the Indios, the poor, roosters, bulls, dogs, ... or women.

    Mexico Watcher


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