The Most Dangerous City In Mexico For Women

Ciudad Juárez, once torn by drug wars, experienced a 34% spike in femicides this year.

Protesting violence against women in Ciudiad Juarez
Protesting violence against women in Ciudiad Juarez
Giacomo Tognini

In late November, three sisters aged 10, 11 and 12, were raped as they lay sleeping in their beds, and the eldest, Nahomí Galindo, was killed. The girl's murder brought this year's femicide total in Ciudad Juàrez, the most populous city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, to a grisly 86.

Although the city has managed to improve its violent image in recent years, the Mexico City-based daily El Universal reports that Ciudad Juàrez is now Mexico's most dangerous place for women. Since 2010, more than 900 women and girls have been murdered there, and if anything, the problem is getting worse. The 2017 femicide tally marks a 34% increase over last year.

On Nov. 23, a day after the Galindo family's tragedy, Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral opened a memorial to victims of femicide in the city. As he spoke, another woman was shot dead in her apartment on the other side of town. A day later, as demonstrators read out the names of victims at the site of a 2012 mass killing, a man in northern Ciudad Juárez shot his wife dead before taking his own life.

Civil society groups and families of femicide victims have joined forces to demand a stronger reaction from the authorities.

Society reproduces and justifies aggression against women and criminalizes the victims.

"Violence exists everywhere, but it's primarily driven by the social sphere and a culture of impunity," said Imelda Marrufo, director of the association Red Mesa de Mujeres, according to El Universal. "Society reproduces and justifies aggression against women and criminalizes the victims, and the judicial system foments impunity."

While Ciudad Juárez has fewer murders of women and girls than does the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, it reports the highest rate of sexual assault in the country. Every 20 hours, a woman in the city files a complaint with the police for sexual assault.

Many more cases go unreported, including one by a woman who later told police she had been assaulted by the same man who attacked Nahomí Galindo and her sisters. Afraid of repercussions, she declined to file a complaint against the assailant, but offered to help the police identify him.

Mexico's National Geography and Statistics Institute (INEGI) estimates that more than 93% of assaults go unreported. Sadly, Ciudad Juárez's 86 femicides may just be a fraction of the true scale of violence that women face in the city.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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