However, Mexican crime groups also earn huge profits in the prostitution industry and have forcibly kidnapped women to traffic them across the border into the U. “It’s the third most profitable market after drugs and small arms for organized crime,” said Teresa Incháustegui, former director of the National Women’s Institute in Mexico City and representative to Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies.“Paradoxically,” she told WMC’s Women Under Siege, “it’s a well-known phenomenon but at the same time very hidden, and many people think that authorities are involved with the trafficking of women.” Women face torture, rape, and murder at the hands of criminals and state agents while being transported from rural areas to larger Mexican cities and across the border.

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Trade barriers had been lowered, factories sprung up, and many rural Mexicans who formerly farmed for a living—including a significant number of women—were forced to migrate to border cities in search of work.

Over the next 20 years, hundreds of women—the Mexican newspaper —were tortured, raped, and murdered, their bodies often being discarded in the desert.

However, a silent, gendered war is also being waged against women throughout the country.

Women are being raped, strangled, and tortured, their bodies mutilated and discarded in desolate locations, sending a message to Mexican society: Women’s lives are expendable. Professor Rosa-Linda Fregoso of the Latin American & Latino Studies Department at University of California, Santa Cruz, explained to WMC’s Women Under Siege: “There is a common, grave mentality that wants to lump all the violence within the war on drugs and not to differentiate.

(The Mexican term “feminicide” differs from “femicide” because the translation of “femicide” in Spanish is simply Nenetzin Rojastells, an environmentalist from Petatlan in the southwest of Mexico, tells journalists her mother disappeared in December 2011 during a trip to Mexico City for a meeting on peace and security. The level of brutal violence being waged upon Mexican women seems misplaced in a country that is a 1981 signatory of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which the United States has yet to sign.

However, the combination of traditional, narrow gender roles, the growing normalization of violence, and the continued lack of political will and resources from the Mexican government have resulted in an enormous spike in sexualized violence against women.

Sexualized violence against women in Mexico has a long history that has been directly tied to state impunity—the lack of proper legal action—and, more recently, to drug cartels and organized crime.

Today, violence in Mexico is often associated with the shocking, public displays of carnage inflicted by warring drug cartels and the controversial steps taken by outgoing President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa to counter their growing influence.

When recently confronted by college students in Mexico City about the lack of justice surrounding the incidents, Peña Nieto was unapologetic and argued that he had used necessary force to restore public order.