Say what you will about Eve Ensler and her work. I don't care if you like it; it has changed lives. Directing the Vagina Monologues was one of the most important things that I have ever done.
In the past decade, over 400 women and girls have been killed or disappeared in Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. Many of the victims were raped, mutilated and tortured. One of the victims was a six-year-old girl. In 2004, V-Day dedicated its annual Spotlight to the missing and murdered women of Juarez, placing the issue in front of millions in the U.S. and internationally through the over 2000 V-Day benefit productions and the 7,000 strong V-Day and Amnesty International March on Juarez. Two years after V-Day went to the streets of Juarez, progress is starting to be made as the international community and the U.S. and European governments begin to recognize and address these crimes against humanity.
In the past month alone, several steps have been taken to raise awareness about the issues affecting the women and girls of Juarez and to assist in ending them.
V-Day Mexico City
On Tuesday, May 9th, V-Day returned to Mexico, with Eve Ensler, Jane Fonda and Salma Hayek joining the Mexico City cast of The Vagina Monolgues for a special V-Day production benefiting groups working on the ground to protect and assist the women of Juarez.
The sold out event brought the issue to millions of women and men throughout Mexico and the world via press conferences and news coverage in numerous Mexican and International news services such as Noticieros Televisa, TV Azteca, Reforma, El Universal, BBC, Associated Press, and more. Proceeds from the event were donated to four groups in Juarez, all of whom were represented at the performance: Casa Amiga, a crisis center that provides free, confidential, and professional services to people who experience physical, emotional, or sexual violence; Fundacion Maria Sagrario, a group working to improve the conditions and safety within the community, such as electrification of streets leading to the maquiladoras, among other necessary issues; Justicia para Nuestras Hijas, a group coordinating a grassroots postcard campaign to send to government offices demanding justice and legitimate investigations into the murders; Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, a group focusing on legal and social justice through three projects: scholarships for children and young relatives of the assassinated women, an internet radio station and employing lawyers from Mexico City to handle such cases.
In addition to the worldwide publicity that this production brought to the issue, the event also resulted in a plan of action to demand that the Mexican government investigates and prosecutes the perpetrators of past crimes, while agreeing to more vigourously investigate and prevent future crimes. Activists will create a platform of demands for protection and conviction that will be signed by prominent members of the Mexican society, including international star Salma Hayek, and publicly presented to the Mexican presidential candidates and governmental officials at an international press conference. Upon signing, and during the election, there will be a period of accountability - should the signee not meet the demands highlighted in the petition by the timetable agreed upon, there will be a demonstration in the streets of Mexico City.
European Parliament hearing denounces femicide in Guatemala and Mexico
On Wedneday, April 19th, 2006, the European Parliament's Committee on Human Rights and its Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality came together for two-days of hearings and debates regarding the systematic murder of women in Mexico and Guatemala, and the obvious impunity against the perpetrators. Statements and testimonies were heard from both countries and representatives of civil society and two intensive debates took place between Latin American and European politicians of various political affiliations and members of women's and human rights networks.
As a result of these two days, a final statement was issued calling for the Mexican and Guatemalan governments to honour the international agreements and treaties they have signed on human rights and against violence and discrimination against women. It also calls on the Mexican government to apply its national and constitutional laws and refrain from the detention of any person charged on the basis of confessions made under torture. It also calls on multinational companies to take steps to protect their women workers, since many of the young women who were murdered were working in maquiladoras.
House Passes Solis' Juarez Resolution
Resolution Expresses Support for Families of the U.S. Border City
In Washington D.C., on Tuesday May 2nd, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved House Concurrent Resolution 90 (H. Con. Res. 90), legislation authored by Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis to address the disappearances and murders of more than 400 women in Juarez, Mexico.
"We are one step closer to bringing justice to the families of Ciudad Juarez," said Congresswoman Solis. "Passage of this important measure signifies strong U.S. Congressional support for the families of Juarez and the need to address this tragic human rights situation. Binational cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico will help bring an end to the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez and closure to their families," Solis said.
H. Con. Res. 90 condemns the ongoing abduction and murders of young women in Juarez and the city of Chihuahua in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico; expresses condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims; and proposes a set of actions to investigate and prevent the crimes. For the past three years, Congresswoman Solis has been working to bring more attention to the brutal murders of women and girls Juarez, a city located just minutes from the U.S. border.
The next step in the legislative process is for the Senate to pass an identical resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 16, was introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and has 18 cosponsors, including four Republicans.
For more information, please visit: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/ca32_solis/morenews3/juarez.html."