Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

Capitalism and Anti-Woman Terror

Correction Appended

Reprinted from Women and Revolution pages of Workers Vanguard No. 812, 24 October 2003

We reprint below a translation of an article printed under the Mujer y Revolución (Women and Revolution) masthead from Espartaco No. 21 (Fall-Winter 2003), newspaper of the Grupo Espartaquista de México (GEM), section of the International Communist League.

In the last decade and a half, some 500 young women have disappeared in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; among these cases 370 are registered homicides showing a pattern of torture, mutilation, rape, burning and/or strangulation of the victim. Most were dark-skinned, thin, and had long hair. Many worked in maquiladoras [foreign-owned factories producing for the export trade]. Several groups of victims’ relatives have organized to try to find the disappeared and not let them be forgotten. A recent report by Amnesty International, as well as several books that have been published, have detailed negligence on the part of the government and the police in investigating these crimes. After receiving acclaim in Europe and parts of the Americas, the powerful documentary Señorita Extraviada [Young Woman Missing], produced by Lourdes Portillo in 2001, was finally shown on Mexican television in September.

Ciudad Juárez, a border city in the state of Chihuahua, is known for these brutal anti-woman crimes, but unfortunately what is happening there is not unique. Articles in different local papers in the maquiladora zone in the north of the country and even in cities like Monterrey testify to several cases similar to those which continue to be reported in Juárez. On September 15 La Jornada reported that “the homicides of young poor women, with traces of rape, are mounting in Argentina, southern Spain and Guatemala. Impunity is the norm and official responses range from inefficiency to hints of complicity.”

There has been a series of statements about the dead women of Juárez which blame the young women for what happened to them! Francisco Barrio, former governor of Chihuahua and current coordinator of the PAN’s [governing National Action Party of President Vicente Fox] congressional deputies, said that the killings happen because “the girls move around in certain places, hang out with a certain type of people.” Jorge López Molinar, former assistant attorney general of Chihuahua, said that the possible solution would be the “self-application of a curfew.” On September 27 a man found the body of a woman who had been strangled with a purse belt; she was semi-naked with her pants and underwear below her knees and her blouse above her breasts. The body was that of 29 year-old-Erika Pérez. The Chihuahua attorney general, José Silva Solís, declared that “she was not sexually attacked and died of an overdose”!

Anyone who knows something about Mexico knows that male chauvinism rules in this country of capitalist exploitation and oppression. The church inculcates the subservient role of women; there is no democratic right of abortion; violence against women happens in six out of every ten homes. Working-class and peasant women are doubly oppressed, as the slaves of slaves.

Víctor Ronquillo, in his book Las muertas de Juárez (1999) [The Dead Women of Juárez], describes the hatred against women and notes that the murders represent a threat to every woman:

“The way in which the bodies are abandoned, the traces of torture, the vestiges of a personal rite: the right breast cut off and the left nipple bitten off. Fire immolates the victim. All this reveals a message whose designated recipients are the next victims.”

The Border Zone: Imperialist Superexploitation

In 1960 Ciudad Juárez was a small town of 250,000 inhabitants on the border with the U.S. Today, it has a population of over 1.2 million people, attracted by the possibility of maquiladora factory jobs. After the end of the U.S. bracero program, which functioned as an escape valve for the unemployment crisis in Mexico, the Mexican government opened the first free-trade zone in 1965. Foreign investors who set up a factory in Mexico near the U.S. border were exempt from tariffs (for the parts they imported) and didn’t have to pay other taxes. This was extended in 1994 with NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], which converted all of Mexico into a source of enormous imperialist profits based on the miserably paid labor of Mexican workers. The Mexican, American and Canadian sections of the International Communist League wrote in a joint statement in 1991: “While strengthening the U.S. bourgeoisie against imperialist trade rivals, an FTA [Free Trade Agreement] will also subject the working masses of the Americas to greater exploitation. We call on Mexican, U.S. and Canadian workers to join in opposing this anti-labor pact” (see “Stop U.S. ‘Free Trade’ Rape of Mexico,” WV No. 530, 5 July 1991).

The right-wing clerical government of Fox and his band of seminarians ensures that Mexico is a very attractive place for foreign investment and for Mexican blood-sucking bosses while it attacks the rights of all working people and of specially oppressed sectors of society such as indigenous people, women and homosexuals. The privatization of nationalized industries being sought by Fox would hit millions with hunger and unemployment. The economic recession has already caused the closing of many maquiladoras and massive layoffs, especially in the border zone. Between the year 2000 and mid 2003, 700,000 (one out of every ten!) jobs have been lost in Mexico’s manufacturing sector (El Norte, 1 September). This occurs in the context of the worst unemployment crisis in six years. Women, who in general occupy the least skilled and more easily replaceable jobs, are the most affected.

Women in the Maquiladoras

Guillermina Valdez Villalva, founder of the Center for Orientation of Working Women in Juárez, said:

“When the plants first came to the city, we always expected them to hire the unemployed male. But very soon we discovered that...young women between the ages of 16 and 21 were the only ones hired.”

— Quoted in Women and Revolution No. 34, Spring 1988, “Class Struggle in the ‘Global Sweatshop’”

Work in the maquiladoras is characterized by its mechanical and repetitive nature. What matters is to have agile fingers, to be young and to be in great need in order to be willing to withstand the worst. A large component of women who work on the border left their peasant and/or indigenous communities with the hope of no longer being subjected to the family nucleus, although they usually send part of the money they earn to their parents or siblings. Also living in the border zone are men and women who tried to cross into the U.S. to work and didn’t make it or were deported.

Sandra Arenal’s book Sangre joven [Young Blood] recounts a series of conversations with women workers who express their strength and anger over their experiences upon arriving at the maquilas [factories]. Stories are told about supervisors who decide to have the personnel strip every now and then to make sure they haven’t stolen some of the clothing they sew. A woman worker in the electronics industry has to solder 2,000 tiny, barely visible parts in one day. Pain caused by repetitive movements and diseases caused by work materials are common.

“My sister started to work at SILVANIA on 30 January 1974, and from there she went to TUBOS ELÉCTRICOS in 1981 and then to the HONEYWELL plant in Juárez, where she died. The cause of her disease, according to the hematologist who saw her at the hospital, was that she was anemic in the fourth degree due to acetone, which is the substance she had handled daily at work.... She was only 30! During her funeral I heard that around the very same time another woman worker had died.”

A 22-year-old woman who had already spent six years in the maquilas said she had “outlasted others.” Her finger bones are deformed and on both hands she has an enormous yellow-brown callus from the tip of the thumb, over the back of the hand, to near the wrist. Looking at her hands with sadness, she says: “They will not pay me for my hands!”

The Origins of Women’s Oppression

In our article “Capitalist Exploitation and Anti-Woman Terror” (Espartaco No. 13, Fall-Winter 1999), in which we analyzed the attacks against women in the Ciudad Juárez maquiladora zone, we explained:

“We communists fight to end the oppression of women, an inheritance of the social backwardness maintained by the bourgeoisie. We stand out in our fight for full equality for women and their complete integration into the workforce. We call for equal pay for equal work and for free, safe abortion on demand as part of a free, quality health care system. But the eradication of women’s oppression requires an immense leap forward in the existing material conditions—and this can only be achieved through a socialist revolution not only in Mexico but by means of the creation of an internationally planned economy based not on capitalist profit but on the fulfillment of everyone’s needs. In other words, the liberation of women cannot be realized separate from the emancipation of the working class.”

One of the ironies of history is that the special oppression of women is linked to one of the first social advances: the development of technology beyond what was necessary for the minimal subsistence that characterized hunter-gatherer societies. Agriculture, metallurgy, domestication of animals and other revolutionary advances made possible the existence of an idle ruling class living off the work of others. The institution of the family, which demands monogamy and women’s domestic slavery, emerged to ensure that the inheritance of property passed through the male line. Male-chauvinist ideology, propagated by the ruling class through government institutions, the media and religion, serves to justify the subjugation of women.

With the growth of capitalist industry, the entry of women into the workforce in factories has taken them out of their isolation in the home and provides a prerequisite for their emancipation: participation in social production. However, under capitalism, this means adding wage slavery to domestic slavery. The complete liberation of women from this double oppression can only take place through the replacement of the family with the socialization of domestic work. The expansion of the productive forces laid the basis for the socialization of domestic work, but this will not happen under capitalism because the family plays an important economic role for the bourgeoisie. In a socialist system things would be very different. The planned economy would allow the replacement of the economic functions of the family with 24-hour childcare, and collective laundries and kitchens. For women’s liberation through socialist revolution!

Police Terror and Illusions in the State

Lilia Alejandra was the 17-year-old mother of a three-year-old boy. She worked for the maquiladora Servicios Plásticos y Ensambles in Ciudad Juárez. Her body was found wrapped in a blanket on 21 February 2001 in an unlit empty lot which she crossed every night to get home from work. The forensic doctor explained to her parents, when they went to identify the body, that there were signs of physical and sexual violence and that the cause of death was strangulation. The same day that Lilia Alejandra didn’t come home, the neighbors around the empty lot had called the police to report that a woman was being beaten and raped by two men in a car. A police car arrived at the site only after the neighbors made a second call, and it still took over an hour. The car had already left.

Various investigations and testimonies point to the nefarious role of the police, “special prosecutors” and government agencies. We completely solidarize with the demands for justice from the families of the victims and from organizations like Mujeres de Negro [Women in Black] and Casa Amiga [Friendly Home]. Simply seeking some justice can turn one into a target of attack. A secretary at Casa Amiga, which provides psychological support services and carries out investigations about the crimes, was shot down in the doorway to the organization’s office.

But the desperation that the disappeared and murdered women’s families live with, the indignation that many people around the country feel, and the fear among women workers of becoming “one more” victim is channeled into a deadly illusion: the idea that with more police presence the anti-woman crimes will stop.

The solution is not pressuring the state —the armed bodies of men that one class uses to maintain its hegemonic power over another—to function better. It is necessary to understand the social role of the capitalist state in assuring capitalist domination over the working class. A key part of capitalist rule is the subjugation of women; anti-woman violence is inherently part of capitalism. The police, army and courts are, and will be, used to break combative strikes that stymie the bourgeoisie and to perpetuate the oppression of women.

The United Nations, that den of thieves whose sanctions killed 1.5 million Iraqis and set Iraq up for the U.S. attack, is now the “human rights” cover for an expansion of the repressive police force in Juárez. The UN sent a commission to Juárez which has recommended that the FBI train Mexican police. During the civil rights movement in the U.S., the FBI worked hand in hand with the fascist Ku Klux Klan to murder fighters for civil rights, even including four young black girls in a church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. This gives some measure of how grotesque the notion is that these imperialist agencies could defend women’s rights.

In the documentary Señorita Extraviada, there is an interview with a woman named María, who was charged with public disturbance along with others and taken to the Cárcel de Piedra prison in Chihuahua. There the police raped her and took her to a clandestine cell. After she was released, she reported the police, and although they were captured, they were never sentenced. In spite of the death threats she has faced, she tells of her experience at the police headquarters courageously and with tears in her eyes:

“And then one of them said, ‘Or what, do you want us to take you to Lomas de Poleo?’... he began throwing pictures of the girls at me: ‘Look at them, bitch, look at them, bitch.’... All of them were dragging her, through the bushes...there they rape her...they start beating the pictures you see them laughing at what the other is could see the [women’s] this, in pain, suffering, crying and yelling.”

The purpose of the police force as a whole, independent of the degree of moral corruption of the individuals who comprise it, is to carry out the violence and terror that the bourgeoisie needs to stay in power. Fighters for social justice must unite with the social power of the working class. No other force can end capitalism or the oppression and violence that it generates. We oppose calls on the bourgeois state to increase its police forces. No illusions in the armed fist of the bourgeoisie!

We are for the right of armed self-defense. Of course, the right to bear arms will not emancipate women, whose oppression is deeply rooted in the capitalist system and its fundamental institutions, and this emancipation can only be achieved through a socialist revolution. However, the right to bear arms makes an obvious difference in one’s capacity for self-defense. But the existing gun “control” laws in Mexico and other capitalist countries ensure that the army, police and criminals have a monopoly on arms. And it is precisely the police and the criminals that the women of Juárez fear, not only because of the murders, but also because of the role that they play in opposition to the organization of women workers in the maquiladoras.

The Struggle for Women’s Emancipation

Stopping this wave of terror is in the interest of the working class and the oppressed. Women make up 30 percent of the working class. They are a doubly oppressed layer of the proletariat maintained as a lower stratum and a reserve army of labor that the bourgeoisie uses to divide workers, keeping wages low and thereby increasing the exploitation of all. The future for women and their struggle for complete emancipation is linked to class struggle against capitalism.

We Spartacists fight to forge a revolutionary Leninist-Trotskyist party to intervene in social struggles and thus change the consciousness of the working class. Lenin wrote in What Is To Be Done? (1902), “Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers.” We seek to build a leadership of the working class that fights as a defender of all the oppressed. Lenin explained that the ideal revolutionary

“should not be the trade-union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.”

The most class-conscious militants in the unions should fight to mobilize the social power of the working class to fight against the oppression of women, to organize them in the unions with salaries and rights equal to those of men. They should fight for free, quality health care services, and for the right to free abortion on demand. They should fight to organize workers detachments to defend the women against these attacks. But the current union leaderships aren’t even interested in demanding buses to transport the personnel—a basic service—while many women workers in Juárez are murdered walking through solitary fields on their way to their jobs or back home. The situation of the working woman is, on its own, proof of the total bankruptcy, servility and male chauvinism of the union bureaucracy.

While a large portion of the workforce on the border and in the country in general is not unionized, the CTM [Confederation of Mexican Workers] is the main workers union in the maquiladora zone. Their pro-capitalist thug bureaucrats tied to the [former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party] PRI daily mobilize teams of thugs against labor struggles for better wages or union democracy and are sadly renowned for their “protection contracts” which are totally favorable to the bosses and signed behind the backs of the workers. It is obvious that the CTM heads couldn’t care less about the situation of working women. And aside from some inoffensive forum here or there that has more to do with protecting their “image” than looking for some favorable change for women workers, the “independent” bureaucrats who are loyal to the PRD [opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution] and to the inherently anti-woman capitalist system also do nothing to improve the situation of working women nor to unionize those who aren’t unionized.

The Fight Against Imperialism: For Proletarian Internationalism!

The woman worker of the maquiladora earns a miserable wage in a foreign-owned factory which produces exorbitant profits for the owners. The woman worker of Juárez sometimes takes two hours to get to work on foot because there aren’t even paved roads between where she lives and the avenues for the trucks that take the raw materials to the factories. The oil worker fears losing the minimal economic stability he has gained in the face of the threats of privatization and foreign investment. The campesino [peasant] can’t make a living anymore off his land because of the competition from American agribusiness. The indigenous woman is forced to beg in front of a huge bank headquarters into which she would never be admitted.

All of these victims of imperialist oppression should understand that the only hope for liberation is the mobilization of labor’s power against the entire capitalist system. While Mexican capitalists might feel resentful for having been left behind in the international fight for domination, they are no friends of the oppressed and cannot lead an anti-imperialist struggle. In fact, the national bourgeoisie couldn’t maintain itself without the help of their imperialist masters.

We revolutionaries base ourselves on Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, the basic premise of which is that in the epoch of imperialism the countries of belated capitalist development cannot attain the general level of economic productivity of the advanced countries. The productive forces are the scaffolding that supports the entire superstructure of legal, political, religious and cultural relations in society. While the oppression of women in the industrialized countries shows the limits of liberty and social progress under capitalism, in “Third World” countries like Mexico the situation of women is profoundly rooted in precapitalist “tradition” and religious backwardness. Thus, the fight for the liberation of women will be an indispensable motor force for revolution.

No wing of the bourgeoisie can play a progressive or revolutionary role. It cannot bring any significant advance for women and all of the oppressed. The fact that the bourgeois-nationalist PRD often poses as a defender of women is simply a testimony to the brutal ideological backwardness of its bourgeois opponents. An example of this was the scandal caused by the “Robles Law” introduced by the PRD in Mexico City a couple of years ago. While we defend this law, which grants the right to abortion in the case of deformation of the fetus or danger to the woman, against clerical attack, we note that the PRD has made clear its opposition to the unrestricted right to abortion. In general, the capitalist class opposes full access to abortion because it allows women some freedom from total subordination in the family structure.

The only way to be rid of the imperialist yoke and obtain elementary democratic rights for women and the oppressed is for the proletariat to take state power through a socialist revolution and reorganize the economy in a planned and rational manner.

The phenomenon of the maquiladoras clearly shows the potential power of the unity of workers in the U.S. and Mexico. They are part of a common industry with the same bosses. Conscious of the social power that the proletariat would attain through unification of its struggles, the American and Mexican bourgeoisies apply “divide and conquer” strategies. This obstacle to joint struggle of all the oppressed against their common oppressor comes in different forms in different countries, and one of the principal tasks of revolutionary parties is to combat these ideas that only serve the bourgeoisie.

Our comrades in the Spartacist League/U.S. know that the struggles of the workers against the bosses and that of blacks and immigrants against racism will advance together or fall back separately. In the U.S. it’s necessary to combat anti-black racism in all spheres, including among Hispanic immigrants. Our comrades also intervene for the working class to raise the slogan “Full citizenship rights for all immigrants!” (see “Oakland Labor-Centered Mobilization Defies ‘National Unity’—Defend Immigrants! Defend the Unions!” WV No. 775, 22 February 2002). In Mexico, bourgeois nationalism has been the main ideological obstacle for the working class in its battle against exploitation. It is necessary to combat the false consciousness of Mexican workers that their ally is the Mexican boss and not the American worker.

And in both countries we combat the anti-woman ideology that is a prop for the capitalist system which requires the subjugation of women. Only in this way will we be able to forge a revolutionary, proletarian, internationalist party with the capacity to finish off the capitalist system of exploitation, misery and terror once and for all. For women’s liberation through socialist revolution!

A Correction

On the Murder of Women in Ciudad Juárez

In their most recent issue of Espartaco (No. 34, Fall 2011), our comrades in the Grupo Espartaquista de México corrected a wrong position taken in print on the notorious murders of women in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, situated just across from El Paso, Texas. The correction centers on how we undercut our Marxist politics by embracing the bourgeois liberal framework of the Juárez campaign against “femicide,” thereby politically accommodating the feminists as well as the Catholic church. Of the three separate articles on this theme appearing in Espartaco over the last 12 years, one was translated and printed in Workers Vanguard in 2003 (see “Capitalism and Anti-Woman Terror,” WV No. 812, 24 October 2003).

Espartaco initially addressed the situation for women in Ciudad Juárez in 1999, several years after the implementation of the NAFTA “free trade” agreement brought a maquiladora factory expansion to Mexico-U.S. border cities. With cross-border commerce on the rise, the population boomed and women—mostly from poor, rural regions of Mexico—flooded the labor market. Ciudad Juárez soon became known for its economic immiseration, drug trafficking and crime. Alongside this, the homicide rate skyrocketed for both men and women.

Soon a campaign emerged surrounding the murders of women, some of whom were reportedly raped, tortured and even mutilated. The campaign encompassed a broad range of liberal and feminist organizations both in Mexico and the U.S., including NGOs, religious groups and so-called socialist groups. The famous 2001 documentary Señorita Extraviada [Young Woman Missing] by Lourdes Portillo early on popularized the idea that these murders were part of an organized conspiracy. In our article from 2003, we praised Portillo’s documentary and wrongly accepted as fact that these murders might be a result of a serial killer or a high-level government plot—or even possibly involve some kind of “ritual.”

The correction in Espartaco explains:

“As revolutionary Marxists we understand…that violence against women—including violent crime—is inherent to capitalism. Far from the tabloid stories of serial killings or an orchestrated terror campaign against women, this phenomenon is based on much broader social problems, including the growing level of criminal and state violence in the region throughout approximately the last decade and a half.”

In fact, according to liberal American writer Debbie Nathan—who critically analyzed some of the fundamental assertions of the Juárez “anti-femicide” campaign—in most of the 270 murder cases presented by Lourdes Portillo in her documentary, the killers were a relative or a partner of the victim (“Missing the Story,” Texas Observer, 30 August 2002). Espartaco further notes that the majority of the 3,726 women murdered in the whole of Mexico between December 2006 and October 2009 were victims of domestic abuse. Clearly, anti-woman violence is not unique to the border cities of the north; in the city of Toluca in central Mexico, the murder rate of women nearly triples that of Ciudad Juárez.

Today, Ciudad Juárez is considered one of the most violent cities in the world. The “drug wars,” which have claimed almost 50,000 lives in Mexico since 2006, have been the pretext for the Mexican government’s militarization across the country, leading to increased bloodletting and state repression against the working class and the poor. But contrary to the notion that women are being killed in disproportionate numbers, during the last decade and a half the murders of men have constituted the overwhelming majority of total homicides in Ciudad Juárez. One analysis based on death certificates and other data concluded that 942 men were killed between 1994-1997 while 143 women were killed in the same period. More recently, in 2010 out of some 3,000 total homicides in Ciudad Juárez 306 were women.

Since its inception in the ’90s, the “anti-femicide” campaign has called for increased military presence and government support to bring “justice” to the victims and their families. The correction in Espartaco states:

“The entire movement around Juárez has been characterized from the beginning by calls ‘against impunity,’ for the capitalist state to mobilize to protect women, to do ‘its job’ right, etc. Indeed, the perspective of massive police mobilization and draconian legislation supposedly aimed at ‘protecting’ women is a fundamental part of feminist ideology. In fact, one of the purposes of the term ‘femicide’—popularized by the reactionary bourgeois feminist Diana Russell, who made a career out of her anti-pornography campaigns—is to appeal to the authorities to strengthen penal legislation.”

The capitalist state—at its core the cops and army as well as the prisons and the courts—is the biggest force for violence in society. The central role of the state is to keep the ruling class in power through repression and terror. It cannot be reformed to act in the interests of the workers and the oppressed, including women.

The article printed in WV No. 812 correctly warned against deadly illusions in the state, but at the same time asserted that “we completely solidarize with the demands for justice from the families of the victims and from organizations like Mujeres de Negro [Women in Black] and Casa Amiga [Friendly Home].” These demands included calling for a “binational task force” of the U.S. and Mexican governments to investigate the crimes and for the declaration of a “national state of emergency” (i.e., the restriction of rights and the massive mobilization of the armed forces). As Marxists, we should not have, and cannot, solidarize with such demands.

The feminist organizations got what they asked for. In 2003, then-president Vicente Fox authorized the deployment of the Federal Preventive Police to Juárez. This set the stage for current president Calderón to put the city under military occupation in the escalation of the “war against el narco [drug trafficking].” The result has been a surge in brutal army abuses against labor and the poor—including illegal searches and arrests without cause, rape, sexual abuse, torture and killings.

Women’s oppression is not simply a question of backward ideology or the denial of democratic rights. Male chauvinism is propagated to justify the economic oppression and subjugation of women within the institution of the family. Espartaco explains how feminism views the main division in society as that between men and women as opposed to that between the exploiters and the exploited, i.e., between the classes. It goes on to observe that the “anti-femicide” campaign around Juárez promotes “the feminist perspective of the oppression of women as something that can be eliminated within the framework of capitalism by means of reforms and a change of attitudes, while extolling the bourgeois nuclear family, one of the fundamental pillars of women’s oppression.”

The centrality of the family in class society flows from its role in the inheritance of property along the male line, which requires women’s sexual monogamy and social subordination. For the working masses and the poor who have no wealth to pass on to new generations, the family serves to raise the next generation of wage slaves. Alongside other institutions such as the church, the family’s role is to teach respect for authority, enforce sexual “norms,” regiment the population (especially youth) and instill adherence to bourgeois morality.

In her 2002 article about Ciudad Juárez, Nathan observed that the campaign—which adopted a pink cross as its symbol—is imbued with the pious moralism rampant in Catholic-dominated Mexico. She stated:

“Infuriatingly, Mexico is still a place where politicians, police, and society in general love to hunt for reasons why a young woman who experiences sexual violence is a whore who ‘deserved’ to be raped and even killed. Things are probably even worse in Juárez, with its special hatred of prostitutes. The state governor during the 1990s, Francisco Barrio, said the city’s females were inviting their own murders by hanging out with the wrong crowd at bars. The state assistant attorney general, Jorge Lopez Molinar, blamed staying out late and skimpy dress. Between a rock and a hard place, families are thus loath to deal with the fact that many beloved daughters do go to cantinas, and many do communicate sexuality through their clothing. Yet to acknowledge this is to imply that one’s child is a slut undeserving of redress. It’s a cruel conundrum that has forced activists in Juárez to use a public rhetoric in which victims are all church-going, girlish innocents.”

By uncritically retailing the notions of the campaign around the Juárez dead, we in fact diverted attention away from the gruesome, everyday reality for women, i.e., the misery, abuse and social backwardness endemic to the capitalist system of exploitation and oppression. The liberation of women can be realized only with the victory of socialist revolution, which will lay the material basis to free women from age-old family servitude, eliminate all forms of social oppression and reorganize society in the interest of all. 

(Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 996, 17 February 2012.)

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