The Missing Women of Juárez Cannot be Silenced

In the early 1990’s, women of Ciudad Juárez began disappearing. The circumstances were dubiously similar—she was walking home, leaving work, going to get groceries—the ending was always the same—she was never heard from again and her body was never found. Femicide is a term that entered Mexican federal law in 2012 in order to describe killings such as these. It has been defined as the intentional killing of women because they are women.

If you were to take a walk around the city, you would not be able to miss the hundreds of pink crosses scattered throughout. The crosses serve to symbolize the missing women as well as the community’s grief. The stories of these missing girls come from family members, usually mothers, because the case of the missing girl does not undergo investigation and there is no trial held—sadly this is unsurprising, in a city where approximately 98% of murders have not been prosecuted in the past decade.[1]

Testimonies point to a similar series of events in each case. A number of these women worked for maquiladoras, factories started as a direct result of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. The women in these factories often work long hours and finish their shifts late at night— it is on the way home from the bus stop that many go missing. It is estimated that at least 1,530 women were murdered in Ciudad Juárez from 1993 to 2014, according to Julia Monarrez, a researcher at Colegio de la Frontera.[2] Though there are not governmental statistics available to survey the impact the loss of these women has had on the city, we have concluded that femicide has contributed to the extraordinarily high number of orphans unaccounted for in Juárez.

Despite the fear and intimidation these killings have generated—groups continue to gather in protest, not just in Ciudad Juárez, but throughout the country. These activists urge authorities to establish a protocol called a “Gender Alert,” intended to force officials to bring the killings of women in the State of Mexico to the utmost priority. Marchers carry pink crosses—a symbol that has spread throughout the country as a declaration of protestation.

The voices of the victims— and of the community grieving the loss of their daughters— can be heard throughout the city. You can hear them as you walk past little pink crosses painted onto sign posts, when you look out into a field of wooden crosses, and as you drive along the highway and pass the mural of the faces of girls gone but not forgotten.

Partner with us as we identify and empower the children orphaned as a result of a crisis such as this. We invite you to join us through prayer and/or financial support. You can also keep up with our team in Juárez through our facebook page.


[1] “Die Angst vor dem Terror bleibt.” Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. Accessed June 30, 2017.

[2] Castillo, Rafael. “Murdered in Mexico State: The Silent Epidemic of Women Killings in Mexico.” VICE News. June 22, 2015. Accessed June 30, 2017.

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