Less than three weeks into 2022, 11 women have already been killed in Juárez, including a same-sex couple. Protesters gathered Thursday outside the State Attorney General's office to call for action against the violence.
The dismembered remains of two women were found Sunday along a highway outside Juárez. On Tuesday, two more women were killed in the city.
Forty people gathered outside the office on Eje Vial Juan Gabriel, some donning pink face masks and purple handkerchiefs associated with the feminist movement in Mexico. Others carried rainbow flags and signs in support of LGBTQ rights. A loudspeaker played music in honor of the murdered women.
Authorities identified the women found along the Juárez-El Porvenir highway, near the town of San Augustín, as "Nohemí M.M." and "Tania M.H." Mexican media including La Verdad and El Diario have reported the women were a couple, based on Facebook profiles under the names Nohemí Medina Martínez and Yulizsa Ramírez.
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Protesters called for a full investigation, including how gender and sexual orientation were factors in the murders. Advocates from Programa Compañeros, Red Mesa de Mujeres and the Marcha de las Diversidades Afectivo Sexuales lead a march from the attorney general's office to the Centro de Justicia para las Mujeres (Center for Women's Justice, CEJUM).
"We are calling on society to pay attention to the awful violence that women in Juárez suffer, as there have already been a series of violent events in the city at the start of the year," the collectives wrote in a statement.
Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 20, 68 people were murdered in Juárez. During 2021, 1,424 people were murdered in Juárez, 180 of them women, according to La Verdad.
"We urge Chihuahua state and local authorities, within the framework of their legal jurisdiction, to investigate and punish these reprehensible murders, and reinforce public policies to combat lesbophobia and other discrimination (based on sexual orientation)," Mexico's National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) wrote in a statement.
Protesters: 'We are going to keep marching ...'
The protesters marched northwest on Eje Vial Juan Gabriel, turning on Calle Noruega to reach the CEJUM. Some drivers honked horns in support of the marchers. At times, the noise from rutera buses and freight trains drowned out their chants, but the protesters continued.
"No nos maten por ser diferentes," they chanted. Don't kill us for being different.
"No nos maten por ser disidentes." Don't kill us for being dissident.
Reaching the CEJUM, named in honor of Marisela Escobedo, a Juárez woman killed while protesting the 2008 murder of her daughter, they read a statement denouncing the murders.
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"Even if LGBTQ+ people are victims of hate crimes, the investigating institutions do not give sufficient attention to whether the crimes had to do with sexual orientation and/or gender identity," the statement read.
"People are asking whether they were killed for being lesbians, or whether they were in the middle of the ongoing war that's going on," said Miguel Angel Jacob, who joined the march. "That's for the authorities to determine. But there are documented cases and patterns of violence against LGBTQ people ... We think that their sexual identity could be a part of it."
"We are going to keep marching and demanding justice," he said. "Because this is a historical debt that our state and our federal government have with us."
Few details in couple's killing
Mexican authorities have announced few details in the killing of Nohemí and Yulizsa. Their dismembered remains were found in a rural area outside the city of Juárez.
Attorney General Roberto Javier Fierro Duarte told El Diario the investigation is advancing and, while they are following special protocols, he at this point does not consider the murders a hate crime.
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Protesters said even though Juárez has been a site of extreme violence against women for years, authorities still do not follow the necessary protocols to investigate these crimes. The Mexican government defines femicide as the violent killing of a woman or girl because of their gender. Chihuahua declared a gender alert in Aug. 2021, which includes 11 protocols for responding to violence against women.
Thursday's protest took place just days after a nighttime march to commemorate the second anniversary of the murder of Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre. The 26-year-old women's rights activist was killed in downtown Juárez in January 2020.
Staff writer Martha Pskowski may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @psskow on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Feminist, LGBTQ activists in Juárez speak out against recent murders