Sydney Action for Juárez

Guest post by Sydney Action for Juarez and featured photo by Micaela Rios Meza.

Sydney Action for Juarez (SAfJ) was formed in late 2009 to alert Australians to the brutal crime of femicide or woman-killing.

Join our facebook group here.

Ciudad Juárez on the USA-Mexico border is a lawless place where hundreds of young women have been savagely raped, tortured and murdered in the last two decades. Most of these crimes are unsolved and the perpetrators enjoy impunity.

There are women in Sydney doing something about it. SAfJ builds on feminist activism in Sydney’s Latin American community and includes Latina and Anglo women.

We are part of a global initiative (Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Italy, Spain, USA), seeking to end the crime of femicide.

SAfJ are co-producing The Vagina Monologues and Women of Sand, a play about Juarez, for International Women’s Day. You can support SAfJ by attending the event on the evening of March 10 2012. Please join us!

More info is here, and you can book by calling 02 8094 8310.

In 1993, retired accountant Ester Chavez, 59, decided she had read one too many news report about the bloodied, battered bodies of young women turning up in the desert on the outskirts of town. “The women of Juárez are not just Juárez’s dead”, she said, “they are the world’s dead, for they were killed simply because they were women”.

A collection of her work is hosted here.

Chavez made herself very unpopular by keeping the news clippings, pestering police and officials, comforting victims’ families, and leading street marches. Chavez died from cancer in December 2009 but her enduring legacy is an international movement.

SAfJ contributes to Mexican efforts to deal with the violence:

  • We have raised funds for organizations in Ciudad Juárez that assist families left behind by the murders.
  • We have scripted and produced a video on gender-based violence for a conference in Ciudad Juárez, reported in the press there and circulated online.
  • We have been in contact with feminist activists in Mexico and have helped publicize their work in international forums.

You can meet and speak with SAfJ at IWD 2012, and will have a presence together with the Latina feminist group Collectivo Mujer at the picnic.  Look out for our pink crosses! As well as the plays, we plan to have a presence at a conference on gender issues later this year in Mexico.

SAfJ has brought the issue to public attention in Australia. We have:

  • Marched at IWD 2010, 2011, held street demonstration “Crossings”, reading the names of the murdered women and proliferating the symbolism of pink crosses adopted by families and activists in Ciudad Juárez.
  • Provided material for newspaper articles and radio reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and ABC.
  • Arranged a fundraising concert, Poetry Night “Mujer Voz – Woman’s Voice” and theater performance of “Vagina Monologues” in Spanish.
  • Presented at union and community meetings, and conferences.
  • Staged performances of the play “Women of Sand” about the femicide (in English) – including a live reading, and a radio performance on SBS.
  • Built a Commemorative Altar at public forums.
  • Held film screenings with discussion forum – Sydney Latin American Film Festival, Sydney University, and concert performances of music from Latin America.

We remember the victims of femicide. We denounce the Mexican government’s inaction. We insist the perpetrators be brought to justice. We express our solidarity with Mexican women. Together we demand an end to the violence and impunity.

Thanks to Raewyn Connell for contacting F and co-ordinating this post.

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