What you need to know about the 43 disappeared students in Mexico

What happened?

On September 26th, 43 students from a rural teaching college in the Mexican state of Guerrero  were “forcibly disappeared” by local police in a series of violent attacks that killed several students. It’s widely assumed that the police were collaborating with organized criminals in the area, but it’s unclear exactly who ordered the attack. According to Laura Carlsen at CIP Americas, “the line between organized crime and government in the city was long ago erased by collusion between the two.” 

How are people responding?

Mexicans are hitting the streets. October 2nd in particular saw thousands of people in Mexico City protesting the disappearances while commemorating the 46th anniversary of the massacre of at least 30 – probably more – students in the Tlatelolco area of the city. The Zapatistas and other Mexican states are standing in solidarity with the students. Overall, the Ayotzinapa disappearances are highlighting the horrific violence that Mexico has been dealing with for years now.

What’s feminism got to do with it?

Ruby Johnson sums it up at the Young Feminist Wire:

“The targeting of young people who are standing up for their rights, mobilizing for change, is not unique to Mexico, historically or today. As the world watches the Umbrella Revolution unfold in Hong Kong, young people stand strong, protesting peacefully, drawing on art, music, and solidarity to demand democracy. All over the world, young people have had a role in the waves of change and uprisings, seen recently in Cambodia, Egypt, Tunisia and more. Young women have been at the forefront of these movements.”

Too often women from marginalized identities face persecution just for speaking out against oppression. In Central America women human rights defenders face violence from the state, and sometimes social stigma from their own communities for their activism.

In addition, Mexican women suffer from uncontrolled violence and the merging of organized crime and the police state in a way that men do not. Too often they are treated as pawns or collateral damage in violent conflicts caused by men. Just look at Juarez, Mexico, where thousands of women have been killed or gone missing, many of whom were punished for speaking out against the violence.

When women protest the Ayotzinapa disappearances, they are taking huge risks to speak out against a state that thinks their lives do not matter. It’s our job to globally bear witness to that kind of courage. Follow the protests at #Ayotzinapa and #AyotzinapaSomosTodos  (We Are All Ayotzinapa).

Juliana believes paying attention is part of solidarity.

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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