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.

Ciudad Juarez — Photo: Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMA

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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