MEXICO CITY — Organizers estimate that over 10,000 people attended a march yesterday in Mexico City as part of a national day of protest to denounce gender-based violence, from street harassment to femicide and economic forms of violence against women.
Sunday’s march began in the State of Mexico’s Ecatepec, which according to the United Nations surpassed Ciudad Juárez in 2014 as Mexico’s most dangerous area when it comes to femicide and other crimes against women.
Many protesters wore purple, and carried homemade signs that announced their reasons for attending. Some signs honored women who have been victims of kidnappings or murder.
Activists organized protests in over 40 cities throughout the country yesterday for the so-called #24A day, including actions in Oaxaca and Juárez.
Many attended to speak out against forms of sexism that manifest themselves on an everyday basis for Mexican women.
“I came today because I’m sick of the street harassment that I’ve been putting up with since I was an infant,” Tania Gómez, a 24-year old recruiter from Mexico City told the News. “And of being more vulnerable merely for the fact that I’m a woman.”
Gómez, who walked with the feminist collective Fondo María, said the march was the first public demonstration she had ever attended, and that being able to express herself publicly on these issues felt positive.
But she was unsure how much the day’s actions would make a difference.
“We have a really chauvinist culture, so it’s difficult to think that the men will change at some point.”
The United Nations estimates that between 1997 and 2014, 15,000 rapes were reported in Mexico, and that only 20 percent of them saw any legal resolution — painting a picture of grave impunity.
The march was organized at a time when violence against women has been much in the news in Mexico. Journalist Andrea Noel’s public afternoon assault in the Condesa neighborhood has coalesced conversation about street harassment in the capital, and the case of the “Porkys” rape club in Veracruz has brought attention to the country’s date rape problem.
Sunday morning, protesters caravaned in vehicles from Ecatepec to the Indios Verdes Metrobús station on the northern edge of Mexico City. They then took buses to arrive at the Monumento a la Revolución, where thousands of other protestors welcomed them.
From there, the entire group marched on foot down the capital’s central boulevard Paseo de la Reforma, to the Ángel de la Independencia monument.
The day’s mood switched between joyful and somber.
Protesters came from a broad spectrum, from multi-generational heterosexual families who marched while pushing strollers, to a lesbian mother’s contingent, to separatist groups who wore balaclavas.
A large number of protesters were men.
One protester carried a piñata that had been labeled “rapist.” When her contingent, arrived at the Ángel, they formed a drum circle and smashed the effigy with bats, some chanting rhymes that promised comically violent fates for those found to be abusing women.
Within the march, many typical divisions that divide women’s groups appeared to have fallen away.
Sara Magili, 34, is a Mexico City vendor who was selling candies from a basket she carried with her at the march.
“Well, I came here for the issues,” she told The News. “But you still have to work.”
A trans woman, Magili was proudly marching shirtless.
“I was up there marching in front, with the all-women contingent,” she said. “I was scared that [the people in charge of the march] were going to push me to one side. But they didn’t, which I thought was kind of amazing.”
Though her experience at the march had been positive, she stayed focused on the seriousness of the issues that had brought her there that day.
“Unfortunately many of our trans sisters keep being raped,” she said. “They keep being denied work. And that’s a really intense kind of violence.”
“I’ve lived openly as a trans woman for five years. It’s not easy. But we have to arrive at some kind of equality.”