Notes on a Scandal | Issue 17

Notes on a Scandal | Issue 17


The 90s enjoy a special place in the hearts of Generation Y, and Y wouldn’t they? It was the decade of chatter rings, Pokémon, Saved by the Bell, and skirts worn over pants. But for the people of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, it was the decade they became famous for the veritable tidal wave of violence that left mass graves dotted across the state of Chihuahua like the diamantes on Paris Hilton’s iPhone.

It’s fair to say that writing about mass graves in Mexico is a bit like writing about penguins in Antarctica or UMAT tutoring advertisements in St. Dave’s — they’ve become just another part of the landscape. But the peculiar thing about Juarez is that although both genders have found themselves the victims of (largely drug-related) caps-being-popped-in-asses, women have been murdered at a far greater rate than men. It would seem that this was for no other reason than their extra X chromosome. Even more sinister is the fact that these slaughtered women generally share a similar appearance and demographic — dark, slim, young, and impoverished.

Today, violence in Juarez has declined overall, and the media looks instead to cover the drug wars that rage along the border of the Americas both North and South. But large numbers of these women are still ending up six feet under. Recent media reports state that there have already been more women killed in Juarez in 2012 than in any year of the so-called “feminicide” era that began in 1993. And that’s saying something: since then there had been over 4000 feminicides, and at least an additional 400 women have been reported missing.

At the beginning of this year, a new mass grave was uncovered. Its contents were girls, fitting that now familiar description, who had been dead for two to three years. Clearly, the feminicidio rages on. Yet despite a great deal of pressure from other countries, Mexican authorities don’t seem that pumped to investigate, much less prosecute, anyone (images of a sweaty, moustache-twirling detective napping at his desk beneath a vast sombrero come to mind). In fact, this new discovery barely made headlines, such is the normality of these gruesome sites to Juarez locals. A lawyer who works with victims’ families believes that “the authorities, they don’t want to see the truth... Life here just has so little value.”

Shivers, it’s all a bit heavy, innit? Not to worry. It could be worse. It could be much worse. It could be Venezuela.
This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2012.
Posted 10:46am Sunday 22nd July 2012 by Brittany Mann.