Says Amnesty International, "... since 1993 more than 370 young women and girls have been murdered in the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua -- at least a third suffering sexual violence -- without the authorities taking proper measures to investigate and address the problem".
The story of how Mexican authorities have tried and failed to solve the crimes is long and convoluted. Many believe that police corruption and involvement with organised crime is the reason for this failure. But the question remains: who's killing all of these women, and why? It can't be a single maniac -- it would be a full-time job for him. And with so many murders, the likelihood of one intended victim surviving and leading the police to the man should be close to 100%.
I can't help but think of this in archaeological terms. What are 370 shallow graves containing mutilated young women? They are, of course, the material record of a cultural custom. Not individual insanity -- cultural insanity. A considerable number of people in Ciudad Juárez clearly cultivate a custom that entails the kidnapping, torture and murder of poor young female factory workers from the countryside. A rationally chosen demographic: the only people likely to miss the women have very little influence in society. And of the people involved with the custom, only a few are likely to commit the actual atrocities. The rest protect them.
So, who are the bearers of this insane subculture? Well, according to the media, there are rumours of coke-fuelled revels among the local mob when big business deals have been closed and delivered. What better time to initiate new members with the special sacrament that ties them securely into the group?
I'm a cultural darwinist. Cultures are experiments. Sometimes the random mutations we love to make up turn up traits that aren't adaptive in the long term. In Ciudad Juárez, this process has produced a particularly ugly cultural mutant.
[More blog entries about juarez, Mexico, murder, crime; mord, brott, Juarez, Mexico.]