Mexicans hit streets to demand end to violence against women

María Carreno, right, weeps during a remembrance ceremony in honor of her sister Briseida Carreno, who was killed a year ago, in Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (AP)
Updated 24 November 2019

Mexicans hit streets to demand end to violence against women

  • On average, 10 women are murdered each day in Mexico, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world to be female
  • Mexico City’s mayor issued a gender alert this week for the capital, meaning that 20 of Mexico’s 31 federal entities now have declared emergencies over feminicides

ECATEPEC, Mexico: Four women walked barefoot Saturday on hot asphalt, clothed in shreds of organza in pastel shades of pink and yellow, the favorite colors of one of the many women murdered in Mexico.

They performed a ceremony in honor of Briseida Carreño, a young woman who was killed a year ago in Ecatepec, a gritty suburb of Mexico City that has seen a large number of gender-related killings of women known as feminicides.

On average, 10 women are murdered each day in Mexico, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world to be female. The threat of violence is compounded by impunity for most perpetrators: fewer than one in 10 murders are solved in Mexico.

“There’s so much violence here, we could do a performance like this every day,” said Manuel Amador, coordinator of the Network to Denounce Feminicides in the State of Mexico, where Ecatepec is located.

Frustrated by the statistics, and by the impotence of authorities, Amador has organized more than 60 processions for victims in the state of Mexico over the past eight years. The idea is to bring a face to the horrific numbers, and to call neighbors to action.

Mexico City’s mayor issued a gender alert this week for the capital, meaning that 20 of Mexico’s 31 federal entities now have declared emergencies over feminicides. That declaration was largely in response to recent, rowdy protests in the capital following allegations of rapes by city police.

While protesters defaced the city’s main monument, the Angel of Independence, at one outpouring of anger, more subdued demonstrations such as knit-ins and walks led by victims’ families have become near-weekly events.

Activists are planning multiple demonstrations to mark Monday’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

On Saturday, women strung flowers into wreaths for necklaces and shredded organza in preparation for the procession in memory of Briseida Carreño. The flowers stood for hope and healing, while the shredded fabric represented the tattered lives of victims and their families. Around the arms of the performers, Amador tied strings of blackened rope to represent the bondage of women oppressed by misogyny.

Several participants in the processions through Ecatepec have been victims of violence themselves or have lost loved-ones.

Performer Diana Ceballos’ 14-year-old cousin was raped and stabbed to death by an ex-boyfriend of the teenager’s mother. He confessed via text message to the mother immediately after the 2014 murder. Even so, it took three years to clinch a jail sentence against the perpetrator. He brought throngs of supporters to court hearings, and flashed snarky, intimidating smiles at the victim’s family.

“It’s surprising how justice can’t be named,” reflected Ceballos. Ceballos realized the importance of speaking out for victims and became an advocate.
For nearly an hour, the procession wound past houses interspersed with taco stands, butcher shops and beauty parlors — demanding justice for felled women like Briseida.

The procession halted at the end of the street that Briseida once lived on. There, Ceballos and three other women twirled to melancholy violin music before casting off the ropes and shreds of fabric. “I’m Briseida, and I’m here to demand justice!” they shouted in unison.

Ceballos presented Briseida’s mother with a bouquet of red roses and said: “Mom, you did well.” The mother’s chin quivered as she fought back tears. Soon, two more mothers of murder victims had wrapped their arms around her, and the women cried together as brass instruments struck up banda tunes.

Briseida’s mother cast her eyes toward a blue sky and said: “Wherever you are, daughter, I love you.”

The experience was cathartic, said older sister María José Carreño, who feels like she wasn’t able to grieve in the chaos after the murder.

It fell on María José to identify the body, which she was able to do because of a tattoo on an upper arm. Briseida’s body had been charred and dumped on the street.

Briseida Carreño was last seen alive at a cousin’s party in the company of her boyfriend of three months.

Initially the boyfriend said and did all the right things. He was polite and talked about moving in together, along with Briseida’s two children. But Briseida’s sisters soon noticed that her vibrant spirit was being stamped out.

She began to dress more conservatively, almost like a grandmother, abandoning a flirty style of bare shoulders and fitted clothes. The boyfriend was very jealous, they say, constantly checking on her and insisting that Briseida only leave the house with him. The couple seemed to argue constantly.

The family is convinced the boyfriend killed Briseida. He’s currently in prison, awaiting trial.

“She went out like anyone else who wants to have fun with the person who supposedly loved her. But we didn’t imagine that he was going to be the one to cut her life short,” said María José. “She fell in love with the wrong person.”


Botswana bans hunters after killing of research elephant

Updated 16 min 50 sec ago

Botswana bans hunters after killing of research elephant

  • Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi sparked global controversy when he lifted a ban on elephant hunting in May
  • Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching
GABERONE: Botswana’s government has revoked the licenses of two professional hunters who shot dead a research elephant and then destroyed its collar to try to hide the evidence.

In a statement late on Saturday, the environment and tourism ministry said that professional hunters Michael Lee Potter and Kevin Sharp had surrendered their licenses after shooting the elephant at the end of last month.

Their nationalities could not be immediately established. Potter was banned for an indefinite period and Sharp for three years. Neither hunter was available for comment.

“In addition, the two hunters will replace the destroyed collar,” the ministry said. “The Ministry will work with the hunting industry to ensure that the necessary ethical standards are upheld.”

The shooting recalled the killing of ‘Cecil the lion’ by an American hunter in neighboring Zimbabwe in 2015, also an animal that had a research collar and was supposed to be protected. His death provoked outrage on social media.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi sparked global controversy when he lifted a ban on elephant hunting in May. The ban had been installed five years earlier by his predecessor, Ian Khama, an ardent conservationist.

Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to 130,000 from 80,000 in the late 1990s.

Officials in the southern African country say the animals are causing problems for farmers by ripping up their crops, so hunting is necessary to reduce their numbers.

The mostly arid country the size of France has a human population of around 2.3 million, and its expanses of wilderness draw millions of foreign tourists to view its wildlife.