Vagina News usually covers the United States, simply because that’s where your host lives, and the US provides more than enough that warrants attention. But we’re breaking that rule today.
I’ve been watching The Bridge, a drama about US and Mexico police working together to solve cases involving the disappearance and murder of several women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It’s based in truth; Ciudad Juarez has been known for years as the “capital of murdered women”; home to the disappearance, rape, torture, and/or murder of hundreds of women since 1993, with little effort by law enforcement to catch the perpetrators. Many activists and others believe the Juarez murders are an example of femicide, or the killing of females by males because they are females. (The term is also used to refer to the impunity with with perpetrators are allowed to operate.)
The area is home to dozens of factories and assembly plants – of maquilas – owned and operated by multinational corporations, that draw women from all over Mexico who are looking for work; many of the victims were employees. The maquilas often operate 24 hours a day, and the women employed there live in remote areas with no electricity or public transportation, so they often wait in dark, isolated areas for a factory bus. There have been several theories and arrests over the years, one of the most recent being that the women of Juarez are being preyed upon by factory bus drivers. Which brings us to last week.
On August 28, a woman reportedly dressed in black and wearing a blonde wig boarded a bus in Juarez and shot and killed the driver, Jose Roberto Flores Carrera, at point blank range. The next day, a woman fitting the same description did the same thing to driver Freddy Zorate Morales. (Some witnesses report hearing the victim say “You lot think you are so tough” or “You guys think you’re real bad, don’t you?” before firing.) Shortly after the second shooting, several news agencies received an email from someone calling themselves “Diana, Huntress of Bus Drivers,” saying:
“…I myself and other women have suffered in silence but we can’t stay quiet anymore… We were victims of sexual violence by the drivers on the night shift on the routes to the maquilas… I am the instrument of vengeance for several women….”
A Facebook account created on August 31 under a similar name was also found.
It’s been suggested that the name Diana refers to La Diana Cazadora, a statue in Juarez of a Roman goddess that stands naked, long-haired, and holding a bow. Police have released a sketch of the suspect, the story has received lots of international press, and half of the city’s bus drivers (as well as many passengers) are staying home out of fear.
The story is developing, so for now I’m left thinking about the causes and effects of vigilante justice, and the deep role of misogyny in the long, tragic history of women in Juarez, and in the coverage of that history and this latest twist. I’d love to hear your thoughts.