Women’s Issues Cloud the New Year

Anne Marie Mackler, FNS Editor


Two Women Murdered In First Weeks Of New Year

Unfortunately the new year started in Cd. Juárez with the murders of two more women. María Estela Martínez was murdered by her boyfriend, and Patricia Monroy Torres was allegedly the victim of a drug trafficking kidnapping and execution. Although one of these two murders has been solved, and the other has likely resolutions, this brings the number of women murdered in Cd. Juárez since March of 1993 up to 173, according to the NGOs, and the majority of these crimes remain unsolved.

María Estela Martínez, 33, an exotic dancer in downtown Cd. Juárez, was found strangled to death in her car at the Central Bus Station on the southwest side of the city on Monday, January 11 . Her boyfriend, Víctor Hinojosa Reyes, 28, who was the last person seen with her on Sunday, January 10, was arrested on January 12 by Special Police Task Force to Investigate the Murders of Women.

Hinojosa, who was a bouncer at the same bar that Martínez worked, says that he and Martínez were fighting in her car at the bus station and that she was drunk. He took her by the throat and thought she had passed out because she was known to have heart failure. He left her in the car assuming she would revive, and he left the bus station on a coach to Zacatecas, allegedly to see his family. He was arrested there and flown back to Cd. Juárez.

Martínez danced as a means to support her three children, ages 6, 8 and 11.

Patricia Monroy Torres, widow of Jesús Márquez, “Chuy el Gordo,” alleged drug trafficker, was kidnapped from her home on January 8. She was found dead on Tuesday, January 13, in the hills surrounding a southeastern neighborhood of Cd. Juárez. Torres was killed execution style with two shots to her head, her mouth taped and her face covered with a white towel.

According to an anti-kidnapping task force of the police, there are two theories regarding this murder. Jesús Dario Saenz, “El Xerox,” after serving his sentence for killing Patricia Torres’ husband in 1995, was released last October from prison. According to police reports, agents believe that Torres was being harrassed by El Xerox because he blames her for his conviction.

Additionally, the police also believe this murder may have been related to drug trafficking. Apparently, Oscar Holguín Ronquillo, a manager at a local night club, and the victim’s boyfriend, had not yet paid a $400,000 debt for a recent delivery of 14 kilograms of cocaine. It is believed that 5 armed men entered the couple’s home demanding payment. They allegedly took jewelry, cash, two cars and Patricia Torres for payment of the debt.

Once again the State Attorney General hired a team of criminologists to investigate the continuing crimes. The team from the National College of Criminology were to begin their investigation in late January.

Sources: El Diario, El Norte

Issues Surrounding Prostitution Debated

Prostitues in Cd. Juárez were a source of headlines early in the new year as issues were debated including the health risks of this profession, sanitary control of the work and the overall impression this line of work leaves on residents. Due to the economy, prostitution is on the rise on the border as women, according to El Diario, can make more money working on the streets than they can in the maquiladoras.

In an effort to assist women who work as prostitutes, the Mexican Federal Association of Health Care Providers (FEMAP) distributed over 30,000 condoms to prostitutes and their clients early in 1999. They will also provide general health awareness and access to health care at the Family Hospital in Cd. Juárez as a first stage of implementing a new health education project for prostitutes in the city.

But María Teresa Zorilla, coordinator for the México Health Commission, says that the commission wants to combat the “prostitution problem” (the term apparently refers generally to the profession) by interviewing prostitutes and finding out what they did before they took up this profession and why they chose to do this work. She says that the commission’s plan is to control this problem and educate prostitutes to find another source of income. The commission hopes to call for the help of other organizations familiar with the industry.

Victoria Caraveo, president of the feminist group Women For Juárez (Mujeres Por Juárez), is one of many agreeing with the position that official health control over prostitutes is necessary because both the prostitutes and their clients are at risk.

However, Esther Chávez Cano, president of March 8 (8 de Marzo), another feminist group, ademantly defends the rights of prostitutes against sanitary control. She believes that it is not necessary for the prostitutes to be checked medically because FEMAP is doing a good job educating and assisting prostitutes regarding health issues. Additioanlly, Chávez says that it would be humiliating for prostitutes to be checked by authorities.

On the other hand, business owners and residents of the downtown area, particularly La Paz Street where many prostitutes run their businesses, opened the new year with complaints about the women. Many believe that the prostitutes should be relocated because of the negative effect prostitution has on the downtown ambiance. Residents question the hygiene, health and social activies of the women working in the area. “It is uncomfortable to see these people every time you go by this street (La Paz). The police should get rid of them,” said Carla Estrada, a student.

According to the president of the Citizens Committee Against Deliquency (Cocilude), Luis Gutiérrez said that municipal police receive at least five dollar payments from prostitutes on a daily basis as a payoff for allowing the prostitutes to continue with the illegal work.

Chávez Cano, in an editorial published in El Diario on January 14, firmly states her belief that prostitution is not the “easy job” some would think, and that many women lose their lives health or both, in addition to suffering daily humiliation, all as a result of trying to make a living.

According to Chávez there should not be a fight for the “sanitary control” of prostitutes but effort towards de-penalizing the “crime” and putting an end to the prosecution of women in this profession. Political justice should be sought against the clients, pimps, trafickers, hotel management, police and doctors that take advantage of and violate the human rights of these women.

Sources: El Diario, El Norte

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