Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre and Ingrid Escamilla were murdered in Ciudad Juarez and Mexico City within two weeks—sparking outrage across the nation and on social media.
Cabanillas, 26, was a women’s rights activist and artist who was part of a collective called Hijas de su Maquilera Madre, which defends women’s rights, ecofeminism, gender equality and assists families of victims of women who have disappeared in the area. She was reported missing on Jan. 18 by her friends after she did not return to her home after a night out and later found shot dead in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.
Escamilla, 25, was brutally murdered shortly after, by her partner, on Feb. 9. According to reports, he partner skinned her, removed her organs and dumped them in a sewer drain to hide the evidence. Photos of her gruesome death were printed in a local newspaper.
The two deaths are part of a long line of femicides in the country—and now, activists are rising up to say enough is enough. After Escamilla’s death, the hashtag #niunamas began to trend on Twitter, where many people expressed their anger not only for the deaths of Cabanillas and Escamilla, but the violence against women in Mexico that has escalated since the early 1990s.
Many factors contribute to the epidemic levels of violence against women in Mexico, much of it stemming from machismo and patriarchal attitudes about women’s agency. Escamilla’s death mirrors the murder of anthropologist Dr. Raquel Padilla Ramos in November of 2019 in this way: Padilla Ramos was killed violently murdered by her partner, and the reason behind it was his desire to control her body and sexuality.
People protested and marched in cities across Mexico on Feb. 14—including Aguascalientes, Cancun, Mexico City, Durango and Guanajuato—calling for justice and the attention of the Mexican government to the epidemic of gender-based violence. Activists in El Paso, Texas, which is right across the border from Juarez, also organized a demonstration in solidarity with their neighbors.
Within the last five years, femicides in Mexico increased 137 percent, according to Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz. In 2019, 1,006 cases of femicide were reported, compared to the 912 cases that were reported the year before.
The mayor of Mexico City condemned femicide in a tweet following Escamilla’s death, saying justice will be sought.