Femicide: Protesters took the streets to demand justice for Jessica González Villaseñor

Jessica González Villaseñor was a 21-year-old teacher

Femicide: Protesters took the streets to demand justice for Jessica González Villaseñor
Jessica González is the latest femicide victim registered in Michoacán - Photo: Charbel Lucio/EL UNIVERSAL
English 27/09/2020 13:15 Carlos Arrieta / Corresponsal Michoacán Actualizada 12:44

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On Friday, Michoacán authorities confirmed the body of Jessica González Villaseñor, 21, was found days after her family reported her disappearance. 

According to authorities, Jessica left her home on September 21 and told her family she would meet with a friend. 

Authorities later revealed that Jessica was beaten to death and that she had been dead for around 72 hours when authorities found her body. 

Authorities said Jessica was murdered by a former partner.
 
Recommended: Mexico registers four disturbing femicides

After Jessica’s death was confirmed by local authorities, her family and feminist activists demanded justice for the young teacher and started using the hashtag #JusticiaParaJessica.

Governor Silvano Aureoles took to Twitter to condemn the heinous crime and sent his condolences to Jessica’s family. 

 
A day later, activists took the streets to protest the murder of Jessica González Villaseñor. Hundreds of people walked through the streets of Morelia to demand justice for the young teacher. 

The feminist group “Red Colectivas Feministas Michoacán” called on local to join the protest. During the protest, Jessica’s family demanded the arrest of Diego Melgoza, who is at large.

Jessica’s family also thanked the feminist activists and all the locals who attended the protest to demand an end to gender-based violence. One of the victim’s relatives said: “you have done more than authorities and if it’s necessary, burn everything. Burn everything because Jessica is gone.”
 
Meanwhile, a feminist group said women in Michoacán are not grieving: “We are outraged and full of anger because some of us are gone. Jessica González Villaseñor is gone, today she joins the 156 women who have been murdered in the state this year.”

Recommended: Mapping for justice: How one woman took it upon herself to register femicide in Mexico

Michoacán has investigated six femicides between January and August. Moreover, Morelia is the sixth township with the most femicide cases in the country. 

Femicide and gender-based violence have reached alarming levels in Mexico in the last two decades. Weeks ago, victims’ families and feminist activists occupied the National Human Rights Commission in Mexico City to demand justice for femicide victims, gender-based violence victims, and victims of enforced disappearance. 

In August, Mexico registered a series of disturbing femicides. According to Mexican authorities, the country registered 566 femicides between January and July 2020. In July alone, Mexico registered 101 femicides, the highest number ever registered.

What is femicide?

The term femicide refers to a specific hate crime that affects girls and women and has become widely used to describe a phenomenon that has prevailed in Mexico for decades.
 
Femicide is defined as “the gender-based murder of a woman or girl by a man” and was coined by Diana Russell in 1976, during the First International Tribunal on Crimes against Women in Brussels.
 
In Mexico, the term gained notoriety when it was translated as “feminicidio” by activist Marcela Lagarde. Her translation aimed to differentiate femicide, a hate crime, from the murder of a woman, which is not sparked by misogyny. Lagarde’s translation also emphasizes the gender issue so that people would notice the sexist ideology behind femicide. The translation coined by Lagarde was essential to understand a wave of violence against women in Ciudad Juárez, which started around 1993.
 
In a broader context, femicide is just one type of violence against women. Moreover, femicide is accompanied by physical violence, sexual abuse, torture, mutilation, sexual slavery, sexual harassment, and other forms of extreme violence.
 
In Mexico, the majority of femicides were wrongly labeled as “crimes of passion,” which are defined as “a crime committed because of very strong emotional feelings, especially in connection with a sexual relationship.” But once the phenomenon of femicide was explained and the term was coined, activists, authorities, journalists, and society, in general, we're able to understand the gender-based implication behind the brutal killing of women. However, sexism still reigns in countries such as Mexico; for example, after 26-year-old Ingrid Escamilla was murdered by her partner in early 2020, a newspaper titled the article “It was cupid’s fault” and printed a photograph of her skinned and dismembered body on its cover. One of the two newspapers that published the graphic pictures issued a statement where it acknowledged the fact that it had revictimized Ingrid with its words and photographs but did not apologize to the victim’s family.

What is the difference between femicide and homicide?

Femicide is primarily perpetrated by men, it is motivated by misogynistic ideas, and is the result of systematic abuse. In contracts, homicide can be the result of different factors, but it does not involve the same gender-related factors behind femicide.
 
Furthermore, Jill Radford defined femicide as the “misogynous killing of women by men, motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure, or a sense of ownership of women.”

Femicide in Mexico

In Mexico, Ciudad Juárez became an emblematic femicide case in Mexico and the world. Authorities registered a series of femicides in 1993. The heinous crime was perpetrated against female factory workers, which followed a serial pattern involved extreme violence against women of certain socio-economic characteristics. The cases were never solved and no criminal was ever prosecuted.
 
The tragic Ciudad Juárez case was followed by hundreds of victims, mainly in the state of Mexico.

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