Terrorizing Women

Feminicide in the Americas

Terrorizing Women

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: 13 photos, 2 line drawings, 12 tables Published: June 2010

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Law > Human Rights

More than 600 women and girls have been murdered and more than 1,000 have disappeared in the Mexican state of Chihuahua since 1993. Violence against women has increased throughout Mexico and in other countries, including Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Law enforcement officials have often failed or refused to undertake investigations and prosecutions, creating a climate of impunity for perpetrators and denying truth and justice to survivors of violence and victims’ relatives. Terrorizing Women is an impassioned yet rigorously analytical response to the escalation in violence against women in Latin America during the past two decades. It is part of a feminist effort to categorize violence rooted in gendered power structures as a violation of human rights. The analytical framework of feminicide is crucial to that effort, as the editors explain in their introduction. They define feminicide as gender-based violence that implicates both the state (directly or indirectly) and individual perpetrators. It is structural violence rooted in social, political, economic, and cultural inequalities.

Terrorizing Women brings together essays by feminist and human rights activists, attorneys, and scholars from Latin America and the United States, as well as testimonios by relatives of women who were disappeared or murdered. In addition to investigating egregious violations of women’s human rights, the contributors consider feminicide in relation to neoliberal economic policies, the violent legacies of military regimes, and the sexual fetishization of women’s bodies. They suggest strategies for confronting feminicide; propose legal, political, and social routes for redressing injustices; and track alternative remedies generated by the communities affected by gender-based violence. In a photo essay portraying the justice movement in Chihuahua, relatives of disappeared and murdered women bear witness to feminicide and demand accountability.

Contributors: Pascha Bueno-Hansen, Adriana Carmona López, Ana Carcedo Cabañas, Jennifer Casey, Lucha Castro Rodríguez , Angélica Cházaro, Rebecca Coplan, Héctor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba, Marta Fontenla, Alma Gomez Caballero, Christina Iturralde, Marcela Lagarde y de los Ríos, Julia Estela Monárrez Fragoso, Hilda Morales Trujillo, Mercedes Olivera, Patricia Ravelo Blancas, Katherine Ruhl, Montserrat Sagot, Rita Laura Segato, Alicia Schmidt Camacho, William Paul Simmons, Deborah M. Weissman, Melissa W. Wright


Terrorizing Women facilitates a transdisciplinary and transnational dialogue through its contributions from feminist researchers; women’s rights and human rights advocates; legal scholars; and witnesses who are writing from and about Latin America’s growth in murders, disappearances, and other forms of violence against women. . . . [It] will especially be pertinent for readers interested in the complexities of feminist movements to combat gender-based violence. [It] engages discussion, through its specific sites of interrogation, about social movement work on violence in a neoliberal context of politics, economics, and culture; how it is limited or co-opted; and where it is able to recuperate and sustain commitments to justice.”
— Soniya Munshi, Women's Studies Quarterly

Terrorizing Women is a rich casebook for activists, lawyers, scholars and teachers of both undergraduate and graduate students in fields ranging from gender studies and anthropology to human rights law, political theory, and social justice and citizenship studies. Writing from across another border, in Canada, it is the hope of this reviewer that the insight, critique and creativity of this remarkable volume can provide fuel and inspiration for citizens and analysts to address the phenomenon of the hundreds of ‘missing Aboriginal women’ in this country.” — Sally Cole, Crime, Law and Social Change

“A well-written and thoughtfully organized edited volume. . . . Terrorizing Women is among the most illuminating collections on the study of contemporary violence as it intersects with gendered racism, the exploitation endemic to neoliberal capitalism, and the complicity of nation-states in rendering women’s bodies vulnerable to violence in the formal and informal markets of capital and misogyny.” — Molly Talcott, Contemporary Sociology

“This volume is a great resource for anyone interested in Women’s and Gender Studies, Latin American Studies, or Human Rights Studies.”
— Jenell Navarro, Women's Studies

“This volume synthesizes a growing interest in examining the way in which gender shapes violence by focusing on violence against women.” — Sarah England, Latin American Perspectives

“. . . Terrorizing Women is a vivid account of the complex interrelations between multiple factors that permit and encourage feminicide. By showing the enormity and deep roots of the problem of violence against women in Latin America, Terrorizing Women also allows readers to understand why feminicide has continued virtually unchecked for decades.” — Laura Jennings, Social Forces

Terrorizing Women is a timely and essential read for people concerned about gender violence in intersection with multiple forms of injustice. Scholars, activists, legal experts and relatives of women murdered or disappeared expose feminicide as a complexly-layered social problem that demands urgent action. Insightful conceptual introductions by editors Rosa-Linda Fregoso and Cynthia Bejarano, and by feminist activist/academic/politician Marcela Lagarde y de los Ríos, are followed by useful analyses and concrete suggestions aimed at stopping feminicide and advancing justice.” — Barbara Sutton, International Feminist Journal of Politics

“[T]he range of Latin American and trans-border authors and disciplinary perspectives . . . combine to convey a sense of informed and urgent feminist debate. If one insight can be distilled from the case studies and scholarly analyses, it comes from Julia Huamanahui. As her brother-in-law rapes her he gloats: ‘Even if you scream, no one will hear you’. Years later, abandoning hope of legal recourse for her pregnant sister’s brutal murder, for which the husband is the only suspect, Julia concludes: ‘I think that for a person who is poor, there is no justice’. This book offers some possible alternatives to such lonely terror.” — Deborah Eade, Gender and Development

“Fregoso and Bejarano seek to introduce a human rights framework to our understanding of misogynistic murders. . . . The book makes the point that feminicide must be analysed within local and global networks of complicity. . . . The great value I see in this book is that it extends the conversation about femicide/feminicide beyond Mexico and into the rest of the Americas.” — Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Times Higher Education

“The writing here is . . . often urgent and disturbing. It always conveys the message that export-led economic development strategies and neoliberal restructuring plans, privatized police and justice systems, and the cultural and practical legacies from civil war and military dictatorship produce gendered perpetrators, victims, and cultures of impunity. Recommended.” — L. D. Brush, Choice

“Anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of gendered violence and the phenomenon of feminicide in Latin America must read Rosa-Linda Fregoso and Cynthia Bejarano’s Terrorizing Women. The book’s powerful contribution is to bring together the diverse voices of scholars, human rights lawyers, and activists, whose analyses help us better understand the structural and legal norms which give rise to the escalating violence against, and murders of, women.” — Karen Musalo, founding director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Hastings College of the Law

“The concerted emergence of feminicidio finally traces the deep hollow of an absent international crime and a silent human rights violation. Now, fundamental inquiries must surface. Should the Genocide Convention be re-drafted to suppress, pursue, and punish feminicidio? Isn’t a peace that is only defined by the cessation of armed conflict one that can tolerate feminicidio? Isn’t securing transitional justice a perpetual ‘State’ for females? The authors’ piercingly astute observations disintegrate illusory historical, geographical, political, and sexual frontiers that confine us and assign us ‘partial human rights status.’ Yes, we rise to your siren.” — Patricia Sellers, former legal advisor for gender-related crimes, Office of the Prosecutor, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

“This one-of-a-kind book presents a collaborative hemispheric conversation among feminists responding to a crisis of overwhelming importance. It is a call to action from the field, a provocation for a new kind of knowledge and a new kind of activism. It is a book about history that will itself make history.” — George Lipsitz, author of American Studies in a Moment of Danger


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Rosa-Linda Fregoso is Professor of Latin American and Latino studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of meXicana Encounters: The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands and Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture.

Cynthia Bejarano is Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick, School of Law. She is the author of Que Onda? Urban Youth Culture and Border Identity.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface. Feminist Keys for Understanding Feminicide: Theoretical, Political, and Legal Construction / Marcela Lagarede y de los Ríos xi

Acknowledgments xxvii

Introduction. A Cartography of Feminicide in the Américas / Rosa-Linda Fregoso and Cynthia Bejarano 1

Part I: Localizing Feminicide

Testimonio: Eva Arce 45

Violencia Feminicida: Violence against Women and Mexico's Structural Crisis / Mercedes Olivera 49

The Victims of Cuidad Juárez Feminicide: Sexually Fetishized Commodities / Julia Estela Monárrez Fragoso 59

Territory, Sovereignty, and the Crimes of the Second State: The Writing on the Body of Murdered Women / Rita Laura Segato 70

Getting Away with Murder: Guatemala's Failure to Protect Women and Rodi Alvarado's Quest for Safety / Angélica Cházaro, Jennifer Casey, and Katherine Ruhl 93

Femicides in Mar de Plata / Marta Fontenla 116

Femicide and Sexual Violence in Guatemala / Hilda Morales Trujillo 127

When Violence against Women Kills: Femicide in Costa Rica, 1990–99 / Montserrat Sagot and Ana Carcedo Cabañas 138

Feminicide in Latin America in the Movement for Women's Human Rights / Adriana Carmona López, Alma Gómez Caballero, and Lucha Castro Rodríguez 157

Part II. Transnationalizing Justice

Testimonio: Julia Huamañahui 179

Obedience without Compliance: The Role of the Government, Organized Crime, and NGOs in the System of Impunity That Murders the Women of Cuidad Juárez / Héctor Domíguez-Ruvalcaba and Patricia Ravelo Blancas 182

Innovative Transnational Remedies for the Women of Cuidad Juárez / William Paul Simmons and Rebecca Coplan 197

Global Economics and Their Progenies: Theorizing Femicide in Context / Deborah M. Weissman 225

Searching for Accountability on the Border: Justice for the Women of Cuidad Juárez / Christina Iturralde 243

Photo Essay: Images from the Justice Movement in Chihuahua, Mexico 263

Part III. New Citizenship Practices

Testimonio: Rosa Franco 273

Cuidadana X: Gender Violence and the Denationalization of Women's Rights in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico / Alicia Schmidt Camacho 275

Feminicidio: Making the Most of an "Empowered Term" / Pascha Bueno-Hansen 290

Paradoxes, Protests, and the Mujeres de Negro of Northern Mexico / Melissa W. Wright 312

Testimonio: Norma Ledezma Ortega 331

References 335

Contributors 367

Index 371
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4681-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4669-2
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