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Violence and Activism at the Border

Gender, Fear, and Everyday LIfe in Ciudad Juárez

By Kathleen Staudt

Publication Year: 2008

Between 1993 and 2003, more than 370 girls and women were murdered and their often-mutilated bodies dumped outside Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua, Mexico. The murders have continued at a rate of approximately thirty per year, yet law enforcement officials have made no breakthroughs in finding the perpetrator(s). Drawing on in-depth surveys, workshops, and interviews of Juárez women and border activists, Violence and Activism at the Border provides crucial links between these disturbing crimes and a broader history of violence against women in Mexico. In addition, the ways in which local feminist activists used the Juárez murders to create international publicity and expose police impunity provides a unique case study of social movements in the borderlands, especially as statistics reveal that the rates of femicide in Juárez are actually similar to other regions of Mexico. Also examining how non-governmental organizations have responded in the face of Mexican law enforcement's “normalization” of domestic violence, Staudt's study is a landmark development in the realm of global human rights.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Inter-America Series


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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xvi

Throughout thirty years of teaching and research in political science, my life passions have addressed government responsiveness to women and gender inequalities. Searching beyond policy rhetoric, I focus on policy implementation, or the lack thereof, and on change, drawing on evidence-based research and collective action: women’s movements, ...

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Chapter 1. Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Framing Perspectives

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pp. 1-28

The world’s attention has focused on Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, at the northern border of Mexico, as the ghastly, premier center of female homicides in the twenty-first century. For more than a decade, grisly reports and documentaries have emerged about the murders of young women, raped and mutilated before death. Theories abound over who is doing the killings. Some attribute the murders to psychopathic serial killers and gangs. Others decry organ harvesting (the 2003 pretext for the Mexican...

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Chapter 2. Culture and Globalization: Male Backlash at the Border

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pp. 29-50

Violence against women has touched most people in the world, through their own experiences or those of their mothers, daughters, sisters, and/or friends. Violence against women occurs in many forms, from rape, sexual assault, and battering to psychological and verbal attacks including Sexual and other physical violence is now considered a crime in most ...

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Chapter 3. Women Speak about Violence and Fear: Surveys and Workshops

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pp. 51-71

Thus far, I have contextualized the border, framed and documented violence against women in the Americas, and considered gender performance as a conceptual tool for understanding changing power relations between men and women, activism against violence, male backlash, and responses from government. In this chapter I will ground the...

Appendix 3A: Research Design

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pp. 72-73

Appendix 3B: Brochures Distributed to Participants

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pp. 74-78

Image Plates

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Chapter 4. Framing and Mobilizing Border Activism: From Femicide to Violence against Women

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pp. 79-109

Since the mid-1990s, a tiny network of activists in Ciudad Juárez has fomented a denser cross-border organized movement and eventually a looser transnational movement of people horrified at the city’s infamy, femicide, and police impunity. Movement growth and transformation wrought tensions surrounding representations including issue...

Appendix 4A: Fiction or Nonfiction?

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pp. 110-111

Appendix 4B: V-Day 2004 Proclamation, City of El Paso

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p. 112

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Chapter 5. Government Responses to Violence against Women

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pp. 113-142

Activists can raise awareness, and nonprofit staff can offer counseling and shelter, but neither group is equipped to intervene in conflict, to investigate and prosecute crimes, or to protect public safety in homes and streets. Those tasks belong to police forces, prosecutors, and the criminal justice system, institutions embedded in the state. In this chapter I offer another perspective on comparative institutions that respond to violence against women in flawed ways, threatening women’s lives and...

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Chapter 6. Toward Eradicating Violence against Women at the Border: Conclusions

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pp. 143-159

This book is dedicated to the problems of and active resistance to violence against women on both sides of the border. In it I have examined domestic violence and as well as female homicide. One-quarter of women experience physical assault at the hands of their partners, and hundreds of women have been killed in Ciudad Ju


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pp. 159-160


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pp. 161-178


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pp. 179-184

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794351
E-ISBN-10: 0292794355
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292716704
Print-ISBN-10: 0292716702

Page Count: 212
Illustrations: 24 halftones, 8 color images, 4 charts, 2 tables, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Inter-America Series
Series Editor Byline: Howard Campbell, Duncan Earle, and John Peterson, series editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 648336527
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Violence and Activism at the Border

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sexual abuse victims -- Mexico -- Ciudad Juárez.
  • Women political activists -- Mexican-American Border Region.
  • Human rights -- Mexican-American Border Region
  • Homicide -- Mexico -- Ciudad Juárez.
  • Women -- Crimes against -- Mexico -- Ciudad Juárez.
  • Police misconduct -- Mexico -- Ciudad Juárez.
  • Migrant labor -- Mexican-American Border Region.
  • Victims of violent crimes -- Mexico -- Ciudad Juárez.
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