Justice for Our Daughters in Mexico


September 18, 2016

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be female. In 2015, 6 women were murdered every day. Unfortunately, entrenched corruption and a culture of machismo—which considers women second-class citizens—mean that the majority of cases of gender-based violence are never investigated.

Nine years ago in Juarez, a 16-year-old named Paloma became one of these victims. When her mother Norma returned home from work, she found Paloma missing, and immediately rushed to the police to report her disappearance. Her concerns fell on deaf ears, however, when the police suggested she had merely ran away to join a gang. Then, a few weeks later, Paloma’s body was found. Far from giving Norma closure, this tragic discovery only highlighted Mexico’s rampant police corruption; the officer investigating the case was found planting evidence on one of Paloma’s ex-boyfriends.

Taking matters into her own hands, Norma approached other grieving families and founded Justice for Our Daughters, an organisation which supports relatives of disappeared women to obtain justice. Supported by a seed grant from the Fund for Global Human Rights, Justice for Daughters has gone on to do formidable things. The Fund’s support helped them not only to attract significant media attention to the femicide crisis, but enabled them to hire the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team to analyse the remains of 26 women who Norma believed had been incorrectly identified by police. The organisation then collaborated with the UN High Commission on Human Rights and criminology experts to exonerate five victims’ family members who were tortured into confessing responsibility for murder. They did all this with only a £13,000 budget.

Norma is a fantastic example of the kinds of activists we work with on a daily basis: ordinary people that are often driven by their own personal struggle to help others facing the same. This story also demonstrates what a little money can do in the fight for human rights. With only £13,000, Norma’s organisation has helped countless families receive the closure they so desperately needed, and continue to work tirelessly to ensure that one day, women will not be allowed to simply “disappear.”