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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-26-00

Brutal Murders Continue in Juarez: Women Workers Targeted

Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, just across the Rio
Grande from El Paso, Texas, has experienced
immense growth in the last 10 years, but it has
also become the site of the brutal raping and
killing of over 200 young women and girls, as
young as 12 years old-all workers in the city's
maquiladoras, mostly U.S. assembly plants
and factories. Since 1993, young women and
girls in Ciudad Juarez have been raped,
strangled, crushed, and abandoned in vacant
lots; most of the murders are unsolved and
poorly investigated.

Manufacturing in Ciudad Juarez flourished
following the 1994 North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which brought
over 200 American companies to the border
town in search of cheap wage labor-about 40
cents per hour. According to the Washington
Post, there are now over 3,000 factories in
Juarez, and all take advantage of "low labor
costs, no independent unions and no
requirements to meet U.S. Occupational
Safety and Health Administration standards."
In addition, these companies, including big
American brand names like Ford, Motorola,
and General Electric, do not provide
adequate transportation from the city's
industrial complex to the workers'
residences-mostly squatter settlements made
up of shacks fashioned out of discarded
scrapwood and cardboard from the
maquilas.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has
spoken out on this issue, meeting with the
Secretary of Commerce, urging pressure
against the industrial leaders. Thus far, little
change has been made. Women still walk
home on unpaved roads with poor or no
lighting, and fall victim to attackers. And the
feminist movement in Juarez, led by Esther
Chavez, has tried to bring attention to this
deplorable situation. Chavez was a speaker at
Feminist Expo 2000.

The Washington Post this Sunday and today
featured a story about one particular maquila
worker, 12-year-old Irma Angelica Rosales,
who was murdered in broad daylight after
leaving a factory that manufactures wiring for
General Electric, Amana, Frigidaire, and
Maytag. She traveled to Juarez with many
dreams: she wanted to wear "city" clothes,
earn her own money, help her parents
financially, and become more independent.
Her death has implicated local bus drivers, a
group of whom confessed to killing Rosales.
The Washington Post also reports that a
recent meeting of industrial leaders resulted in
a resolution to install more street lamps,
among other safety measures.

Media Resources: The Washington Post - 25 June 2000


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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