Where are all the missing women in the State of Mexico?

Between 2000 and 2015, 1,481 women were reported missing, 50% of them were 18 or younger.

At least 634 girls aged between 13 and 17 missing in the State of Mexico, according to the Odisea website. (Photo: Taken from www.fiscaliadesaparecidosedomex.org.mx/cedulas_no_localizada)
English 30/06/2016 12:15 Daniela Guazo Actualizada 12:46
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Due to the high levels of violence against women in Ecatepec, this municipality of the State of Mexico has been compared to Ciudad Juárez. Thirty minutes away from Mexico City 101 women have been missing for ten years, according to Odisea, a data base created by the Attorney General's Office of the state with information about missing persons.

However this is only a small fraction of the problem. Between 2000 and 2015, 1,481 women were reported missing in the State of Mexico, 50% of them were 18 or younger.

Authorities have few information about their disappearance, either they were on their way to school when they were last seen or they went to an internet cafe to do their homework, to the store to do errands and never came back home. The only constant is that they all went missing in the State of Mexico.

A school behind bars

Hank Gonzalez neighborhood, considered the most dangerous of Ecatepec, is located at a half an hour drive from Mexico City.

It is also the seat of Francisco Villa school, where 200 children study. More than 183 murders of women have been reported in the neighborhood in the last four years, according to data from the Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional del Feminicido (National Citizens' Observatory for Femicide).

The school has one rule that stands out: once the gates are closed, no one can get close to them. Leticia Fragoso, principal of the school, says that the rule helped them keep drug traffickers away from students.

“Sometimes they approached the students to sell them drugs, turn them into peddlers or contact a student,” she explained.

The school also offers workshops to identify sexual violence and students participate in theater plays about femicides and are warned about human trafficking and the ways victims are approached.

Alejandra, 18, lives in Benito Juárez neighborhood. She says that dead girls are often dumped in La Mesa, a vacant lot in her neighborhood that has become a symbol of criminal violence.

That is one of the reasons for which she has always preferred to study in the mornings. If she studied in the afternoons, the bus that she takes to go home would be almost empty.

“We are tired of being afraid and not knowing if we will return to our homes safely. You can be robbed, raped or kidnapped," she said with a hint of annoyance.

In 2012 two of her classmates went missing. Complaints were filed, but so far nobody knows their fate. Authorities did their work only on paper.

"In the State of Mexico there is an institutional fragility that makes this problem more evident. It is unbelievable that there are so many girls missing and authorities do not realize (the problem),” said Juan Martín Pérez, of the NGO Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México (Redim).

A teacher says that in one of the cases the missing girl called her mother to tell her she was fine. However, after five years of analyzing human trafficking and disapperances, Gerardo Nava, specialist of the Observatory against Human Trafficking, says that these calls are often made under threat.

"This way authorities can say that the case is solved," Nava explained.

In July 2015 the Ministry of the Interior (Interior Ministry) declared a gender alert in 11 municipalities of the State of Mexico: Ecatepec, Nezahualcóyotl, Tlalnepantla, Toluca, Chimalhuacán, Naucalpan, Tultitlán, Ixtapaluca, Valle de Chalco, Cuautitlán and Chalco.

At least 634 girls aged between 13 and 17 missing in the State of Mexico, according to the Odisea website: 220 in Nezahualcóyotl, 101 in Ecatepec and 108 in Chalco. However the database is no longer available for public access. It was online until November 2015, when the reports, like the women, simply disappeared.

The government of the State of Mexico has adopted some measures to help solve the problem. In mid-2014, Attorney General Alejandro Jaime Gómez created a special unit for missing persons. However the website of the unit does not describe its work, achievements or plans. El Universal Data unsuccessfully tried to contact the unit.



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