Have you ever thought of all the women that are murdered daily just because they were born a woman? Have you ever thought that at any moment that woman could be you, or your sister, or your own mother?
Femicide is a very big felony globally, and it happens very often. According to data from the United Nations, 66,000 women and girls are murdered every year. In Mexico, femicides also occur too often, and neither the population nor the authorities pay enough attention to this very important issue.
The word “femicide” comes from the Latin word “femina” (woman) and -cide, after homicide, originally in the elementary sense “the killing of a woman,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.
Femicides have always been present in Mexican history, but their importance and their frequency have changed over time. The first femicide ever treated in Mexico was Mariana Lima’s case, which was first thought to be a suicide in 2010. It is very important because it opened the doors to talking about the issue and realizing that femicide is an actual occurrence.
It is significant to note that before Lima’s case femicides were not described in court using the word “femicide.” Even though the case was tried as a homicide, it was called “homicide of women for reasons of gender.”
Talking about a femicide or what leads our country to have so many femicides is very rare in Mexican society. There are many reasons why femicide occurs, but we are going to focus on the following main reasons: male chauvinism, gender inequality and ignorance of self knowledge.
Perhaps the principal reason why femicides are not discussed is male chauvinism. We have to accept reality; we live in a matriarchal but male chauvinist country. In a way, motherhood is a big deal in Mexico and it is really respected, but in other ways the habits that are passed down through generations are the manners of male chauvinism.
The worst part is that a big source of where children learn male chauvinism is their mother and grandmother. And even though Mexico has improved in terms of women’s rights, contraceptives, a decrease in fertility rates and an increase in the number of women working and studying, we still cannot call ourselves a male chauvinism-free country. Some men are actually saying that they are not male chauvinists, that they “let” their wives work and study.
Sadly, women’s submissiveness to their husbands is still seen as something positive. The most popular songs in our country talk about how women are objects to men, and women still sing along with them. The fact that women are still considered to be homemakers even though they can now work means that their top priority should always be taking care of their homes and families.
Another clear example of how male chauvinism is found in our everyday lives is how a guy can flirt and kiss a bunch of girls and he is recognized as a “hero,” but if a girl does the exact same thing she has the completely opposite result. In some of these examples, we can spot how women embrace male chauvinism too.
Though it is not as bad as it used to be, and male chauvinism is not connected to physical violence as much anymore, what is leading the way nowadays is psychological violence towards women. Threats, intimidation, underestimation and constant judgements in relation to women’s lifestyle choices are some of the fears that come in a woman’s mundane life. Male chauvinism is deeply set in Mexico’s roots, but we need to raise our voices and destroy the taboo that has been established.
Gender inequality is also a real thing in Mexico and is one of the main reasons femicides are not discussed enough. It is a fact that the daily salary for women is 14% less than men’s. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), in 2017 women earned 30% less than men. It is a fact that women in Mexico work an average of 607 minutes a day compared to men’s 580 minutes, taking into account the activities in the home, and women are still seen less productive.
One woman for every 10 men has a place on boards of directors, but gender inequality is not just found in the workplace; it is in our houses, our schools, streets, publicity, social media and more. Countless people in Mexican society state that gender inequality does not exist anymore and even when they realize how gender inequality still exists in our ordinary lives, they say they are things that will never change because we will never be equal. Those kinds of thoughts are what lead our country to be negligent about femicides.
What is self knowledge, and why would it be a reason for femicides? Self knowledge is something that is not talked about or taught in Mexico, but it should be. Even though most people think they already know themselves, they actually do not. A person is more than a body, more than his or her outside knowledge, more than his or her likes and dislikes.
But what does this have to do with femicides? A lot. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion and regulate emotion in the self and others. This means people need to be taught how to express their feelings, know why they feel them, or analyze what life event caused them to feel this way. In schools, people are not taught to learn about themselves.
The system in our country teaches children intellectual intelligence. We cannot say that this information is not important, but by not teaching people from an early age about their self knowledge we confront problems like femicide. There is a great quote that says, “The more emotional intelligence, the less gender violence.”
It is entirely true. There are lots of people, especially men, that have an unresolved issue with a woman (mom/family member/friend/teacher/girlfriend) in their childhood that led to them growing up and participating in gender violence. Emotional intelligence needs to be taught. We can save lives by knowing ourselves.
Femicides are not taken seriously right now, and if they are not taken seriously in the future they will just keep happening more and more. Girls and women are losing their lives. We, as girls, cannot stay quiet. We cannot stay with our arms crossed when women are being murdered every hour. We need to find solutions.
We need to establish emotional intelligence classes within the Mexican education system. My proposal is to step up our game in schools by creating a mandatory class in emotional intelligence from kindergarten to high school. We have to start with the newest generations, but we cannot leave the old ones behind because at the end of the day the older generation are the ones who raise our youth.
That is why I also propose to teach adults about emotional intelligence and how to raise children who do not display male chauvinism. Also, we have to take the taboo away from mental issues, just like we need to do for misogyny, and start talking about how to control them. We need to show Mexico that we have the same rights as everyone else, and we need the same opportunities, too. We have to force the authorities to punish wisely. We need to raise our feminine voices.
We need to start breaking taboos and start talking about them. We need to solve this issue. I can say I am disappointed in our country, and I am not the only Mexican woman who feels this way. We should change the way Mexican women live in fear. We, as Mexican girls, deserve more. We need to raise our voices until we are heard.
And we will accomplish whatever we set our minds to because we are women and we are strong. Women represent power. We will prove Mexico and the world wrong. We can stop this terrifying act. Together we can do anything. We are going to do it for ourselves, for our mothers, our sisters, our friends, our daughters and for every single woman in this country.
We were born women and that is not a weakness, it is a super power. We can make history. We are equal, we are brilliant, we are amazing. We are women, and we are going to show the world that they cannot put us down. All of us, with the spirit of the deceased behind us, are not going to let another woman down.
I am proud to call myself a woman, and nothing and no one is going to make me change my mind.
The writer is a Grade 9 student at the Tlalpan campus of Colegio Peterson in Mexico City.