Column: A Day Without Them

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Editor’s note: this column includes references to extreme violence against women.

Three months ago, my family and I had a terrible experience. For more than 24 hours we were not able to contact and locate one of my sisters. She was on her way to the beach, but she never texted us back letting us know that she arrived okay. We panicked. We texted her. We called her. We messaged her friends. We waited. She was later able to contact us and explained she didn’t have signal. She was fine. We were lucky. We are grateful.

We often see shocking and horrific headlines: “Woman brutally murdered.” “A girl was raped and killed.” “She was found dead after she had reported violence from her husband months ago.” Worrisome messages stand out in social media feeds: “I went out with my friend last night and she never got home. Please help me find her.” “My daughter texted me last night that the taxi driver was driving through an unknown location and she never texted back.”

The “anti-monument” in front of the Palacio Bellas Artes in Mexico City during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2019 march [Thayne Tuason, CC 4.0, Wikimedia Commons]

The alarming statistics are increasing. 10 women are killed in Mexico every day. 133 women were been murdered during the first 49 days of 2020. 20 women disappear every 24 hours in Mexico City. 1006 femicides were registered in 2019. There is impunity in more than 98% of these crimes.

The names are not forgotten. Ingrid Escamilla: she was 25 years old when she was stabbed, skinned, and disemboweled by her partner. The pictures were leaked to the press. Fátima Cecilia was 7 years old: she was abducted outside her school, and her body was found in a plastic bag with signs of torture and sexual abuse. Minerva N. was the first femicide victim of 2020. Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre. María del Pilar González Llamas. Yaneth Rubí. And many more.

The victims are often blamed. “She was not wearing proper clothes.” “She was outside late”. “She was drunk”. “She shouldn’t have been there.” “The parents neglected her”.  Some people enter the discussion and debate. “Men are also murdered”. “It is not about men versus women, it is about bad people versus good people.” “Women also kill.” “It’s okay to protest, but not with violence”.

Women are furious. They are terrified. They want justice. They ask for safety. They cry for their lives. They tweet, They post. They comment. They gather. They go out to protest, they scream their demands, they sing, they dance, they walk holding hands, they paint on walls and monuments. Authorities ask women to please do not paint walls and doors. The walls and doors are cleaned and restored. They go out to protest again. The monuments are now shielded and protected.

Mexican women are calling for a national strike next Monday, March 9th: #UnDíaSinNosotras / #ADayWithoutUs. No women in schools. No women in offices. No women in stores. No women in banks. No women in media.  The strike was initiated by the feminist group Brujas del Mar (“Witches of the Sea”), from the state of Veracruz. They use the term “witches” “because they seek to vindicate those women who were chased, hunted and murdered because of their religious beliefs and power, the women of science and uncommon abilities, the wise and influential women, the rebel women.”

Crowd at a femicide protest in Zocalo, Mexico City, 2019 [Thayne Tuason, CC 4.0, Wikimedia Commons]

I hear women in my office wondering if they are going to work or not that day. I read companies’ statements showing their support to the strike. I read that even a local coven, Cofradía Wicca Luna Azul, is joining the strike and canceled their full moon celebration.

The President blames neoliberalism. The President says his opponents are using this situation against him. The President announced the sale of his presidential jet raffle was going to start on March 9, he later said he didn’t have in mind that it was the same day of the strike.

I watch. I read. I listen. My heart and spirit hurt. I try to find the balance between not getting utterly involved in the discussion and not ending up being indifferent. I try to understand the difference between not being my place to fight but that we all have a responsibility to face.

During my meditations, I think about peace and balance. I think about responsibility and the patterns I need to change, about the patterns we need to change. My thoughts travel and I wonder if this is the return of the Goddess. I wonder if her rebirth is happening through the ashes of injustice, anger, and pain.

And in front of my altar, I light a white candle and pray. “May the families and friends of the victims find justice and peace. May the victims never be forgotten.” I kneel and plead: “Goddess, please protect my mom, my sisters, my aunts, my cousins, my friends, my coven. Goddess, please protect them all!”

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