After a string of gruesome killings of women, feminist activists here began wondering: What if we all just disappeared?
Mexico is about to find out. Women across the country are being urged to skip work next Monday, stay off the streets and purchase nothing for 24 hours.
The March 9 national strike, which is being promoted as #UNDIASINMUJERES, or “a day without women,” is meant to deliver an economic punch to cast light on what activists describe as a crisis of violence.
“We want to make visible the violence that women suffer in every space in this country,” said Arussi Unda, a spokeswoman for Las Brujas del Mar, a feminist collective that is helping organize the strike. “We want to punish the system.”
What began as a fringe movement has in just a few weeks morphed into a major cultural moment, with well-known actresses, writers and politicians promoting it and some of Mexico’s largest companies showing their support by giving female employees the day off.
It’s all evidence of the growing visibility of the feminist movement in Mexico, where activists have been going beyond #MeToo denunciations of sexual harassment and violence and embracing much more radical forms of protest.
At the National Autonomous University of Mexico, students have for months occupied several buildings to protest the killing of a female student and alleged sexual harassment by professors.
Last year, women spray-painted national monuments in Mexico City and broke windows at the attorney general’s office after a teenage girl alleged she had been raped by four police officers.
And last month, after the abduction and killing of a 7-year-old girl and the death of a young woman whose husband disemboweled her and skinned her corpse, masked women splashed blood-red paint on the doors of Mexico’s National Palace, accusing the government of not properly investigating femicides, a term used to classify certain homicides targeting women.
Of the 35,558 homicides recorded in Mexico last year, 3,825 of the victims were female. A total of 1,006 killings were officially classified as femicides, based on a variety of criteria, including whether the victim’s body showed any signs of sexual violence and whether there had been a “sentimental” relationship between the victim and the killer.