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Students raise awareness about murders in Juarez

On March 18, a bloody but unidentified 14-year-old girl ran down the streets of Juarez, Mexico. She was sexually assaulted and nearly strangled to death by a maquiladora (sweat shop factory) bus driver named Jesus Guardado Marquez. While this girl escaped death, many other women in the city are not so fortunate.

Beginning in 1993, over 400 women between the ages of six to 6 either disappeared or were discovered raped and murdered in Ciudad Juarez. Though more female corpses are uncovered every day, poor police documentation of the crimes cripple efforts to stop the violence and factories cannot afford security for their female workers.

Seeking to expose the injustice of Juarez women, a Mills club called the Femicides Delegation to Ciudad Juarez will fly to Ciudad Juarez during Spring Break.

The Femicides Delegation began when Jessica Marquez, a contact from the non-profit organization called Mexico Solidarity Network (MSN), met juniors Jessica Mosqueda and Daisy Gonzales, two members of a Mills activist club called Mujeres Unidas. After hearing about the situation the two volunteered to work with MSN.

"We feel this: MSN best represents our mission and helps spread our knowledge of the impunity that is inflicted on these young Maquila workers… as the sayings goes, 'an injustice to one women is an injustice to all women,'" said Gonzales.

Eight other members joined after they filled out an application based on questions from MSN. One member, senior Megan Wheelehan, said that she first became interested in Juarez's situation while talking to a factory worker in Tijuana. She said, "My reaction was mostly concerned with the actual living conditions caused by the maquiladoras … I felt linked to the system, because they were from the U.S. After thinking and reflecting about the situation, I felt that I had the responsibility as an activist and as a human to educate myself."

The 10 women will arrive in Mexico on March 18 where they will stay with family hosts provided by the MSN organization. After that, MSN provides an itinerary and will assign a licensed guide to accompany them throughout the trip, especially when the women will be "exposed to the risk and disparity of the Maquila worker."

"Our goal is to return to Mills and provide a firsthand account and presentation of the femicides in Juarez and the negligence of the United States and the state of Chijuajua. More importantly, we hope to create networks of awareness within the Mills community and the greater outside community," Gonzales said.

Another member, freshwoman Ixquel Sarin, also wants to spread the word on the Juarez murders. "I have been studying the femicides for the past two years, and it is very important for me … to spread awareness of the impunity that is implemented among these young women who come from indigenous areas simply … to gain a livable wage in the maquiladoras," she said.

The girls have no illusion about the potential danger they are in. "We understand that the trip will be risky in its own right, but we are confident that we will be safe. Furthermore, the Mexico Solidarity Network ensures our safety and well-being while on the trip," Gonzales said.

The Femicides Delegation strives for Mills sponsorship, however, they are organizing fundraisers and donation boxes in case sponsorship does not occur. The club has already raised money for the Femicides fund by selling pizza at the Mills Explosion, and other events will include a Valentine's Day gram, a silent auction, a dating game and film documentaries that discuss the femicides through the viewpoint of female factory workers.

The Femicides Delegation aims to raise at least $10,000 to cover all expenses. They are trying to raise additional funds to donate to the families of the victims in Juarez.