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Thousands of Mexican women plan strike to protest soaring rate of gender violence

"A Day Without Women" strike in Mexico
"A Day Without Women" strike in Mexico 06:54

London — Thousands of women in Mexico are planning to stay home from work on Monday as part of a nationwide strike to protest the country's high rate of violence against women and girls. The strike is aimed at highlighting the number of women who are murdered in Mexico — approximately 10 per day, according to government figures. 

Thousands more women and girls have gone missing in Mexico as the overall murder rate in the country in 2019 hit its highest level since record-keeping began.

On Sunday, International Women's Day, 80,000 people marched through Mexico City, according to official estimates, while smaller protests took place across the country.

"In Mexico it's like we're in a state of war; we're in a humanitarian crisis because of the quantity of women that have disappeared or been killed," Maria de la Luz Estrada, coordinator of the National Citizen's Observatory of Femicide, told The Associated Press.

Widespread protests

Protests began in February after the murder of Ingrid Escamilla, a 25-year-old woman allegedly killed by her boyfriend. The suspect, who has been arrested, reportedly confessed to mutilating Escamilla's body with a knife and flushing parts down the toilet.

Photos of a skinned corpse, apparently leaked by police, were published by local media and sparked widespread anger. The words "femicide state" were written by protesters in red across the door of Mexico's National Palace.

Shortly after that, the body of a 7-year-old girl named Fatima Cecilia Aldrighett, who was last seen leaving her school with a stranger, was discovered, sparking more protests. Her family argued that Fatima could have been found alive if authorities had responded appropriately. 

"What are they going to do without us if they are killing us?"

According to reports, some major companies in Mexico have encouraged their employees to take part in Monday's women's strike. The Coparmex business confederation, which has more than 36,000 member companies, urged participation despite projected losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to The Associated Press.

Some schools cancelled bus services that rely on female nannies escorting children out of their homes, The AP reported, and some asked fathers to step in and teach classes to replace striking female teachers.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said government employees could join the strike, but he has also accused political opponents of trying to undermine his administration by exploiting Mexico's security problems, the Reuters news agency reported.

"What we want to provoke is that they see that if we're not there, the city won't circulate," Viviana Mendez, a lawyer and mother who planned on taking part in Monday's strike, told The AP. "There are many of us. What are they going to do without us if they are killing us?"

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