Calling out Mexico on its failure to end the femicide epidemic in Ciudád Juarez
Femicide in Ciudad Juárez: Our Pursuit for Justice

In September we participated in bringing the case of Silvia Elena Rivera et al v. Mexico before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The case concerns six young women who were murdered in cases of gender-based violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Their deaths were never brought to justice. Along with our partners at CEDIMAC, we’re holding the government of Mexico accountable.

Photography and videography: Ojos Nebulosos.

Femicide—the murder of women because of their gender—is an epidemic in Mexico. A woman is killed every two and a half hours, and over 9,000 women have disappeared to date. Astonishingly high rates of femicide and disappearances are met with inaction from the government and impunity for the perpetrators. 

In April 1998, María Sagrario vanished from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Since then, lawyers, journalists, filmmakers, and volunteers have persistently searched for her and the truth of what transpired; despite these efforts, the details remain unknown and Maria’s anguished loved ones continue to suffer. Together with Centro para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer, AC (CEDIMAC), a local organization created to represent María Sagrario and five other young women and girls who disappeared between 1995 and 2003, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has spent the past five years seeking justice on behalf of these victims and demanding that authorities respond effectively to reports of missing women. In September 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard the case Silvia Elena Rivera et al. v. Mexico, filed by CEDIMAC and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights—the latest emblematic battle in the fight for justice and accountability on behalf of María, her family, and the other femicide victims of Ciudad Juárez.

RFK Human Rights’ work on this case forms part of a broader commitment to combatting violence against women in Latin America. In Guatemala, as a result of a femicide case presented by RFK Human Rights, the government adopted the Isabel-Claudina alert—an alert that can be activated immediately to report suspected missing persons cases to the authorities. In Honduras, RFK Human Rights works with Red Lésbica - Cattrachas to seek justice for the murders of trans women, including in the case of Vicky Hernández. These cases in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras set the stage for changing the status quo, and pushing for lasting reform.