In Juarez, women disappear into thin air, their fate left unknown. Unless, of course, their captors decide to reveal their lifeless bodies, along with clear evidence of how they were brutally tortured and murdered, heinously raped, their bodies torn to pieces or burned. These events represent a terrible grief for our society. Is there no way to motivate those who possess the power to do something?
It does not seem that the desperation and fear of families that live with such uncertainty, as they watch their daughters leave home without knowing if they will return, provides sufficient motivation to affect the will of anyone to put a stop to these events.
To date, these crimes have gone unpunished. There are no attempts to find these missing women… and no one is held accountable for the continuing murders and disappearances. Therefore, we invite the government to take action, to stop ignoring the grave events that continue to occur unchecked along this border.
Furthermore, we call upon ourselves to stop being accomplices to this situation. We desperately call upon anyone with a conscience to make even the most minimum effort to support our fight against these femicides that seem to have no end. Each one of us, in our own circumstances, can participate. You can impose your own limits, but the violence in this city does not seem to know any borders.
The murder of young and poor women was first documented in the city of Juarez in 1993 ... In 2001, its terror extended to the city of Chihuahua ... Where, and when, will it end ...?
Marisela Ortiz, Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa A.C.
Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, A.C., is a civil association founded by the relatives and friends of young women who are either missing or have been killed in the State of Chihuahua in the past decade. It was formed in February 2001 as a result of failure to fulfill the calls for judicial justice, the inaction of the government, the violation of human rights, and the recurrent inattention to victims.
The femicides in Juarez have placed us, the families of the victims, in a vulnerable situation. To begin with, we are impoverished families. This alone brings serious challenges to everyday life. However, to this, we must add the tragedy of losing our daughters, an event that has drastically changed our lives. The result is serious damage to our emotional well-being. Facing a situation that we do not largely understand, we search for knowledge related to the crimes committed against our daughters. We demand justice for those actions. Both actions bring with them a series of steps and procedures that augment our emotional stress. Moreover, these processes weigh heavily upon the few economic resources and assets at our disposal. As a whole, these circumstances seriously undermine our well-being, and our households are severely impacted by both emotional and physical stress.
Despite our persistent demands, and the fact that this problem is now 10 years old, there is still no institutional support for the victims or their families. It is our belief that Juarez, its institutions, and the country at-large have a social obligation to our families. We have been plundered, defamed, and had our most basic rights violated. These violations include the invasion of our privacy and family life that have been accomplished through a forcible attack that has stigmatized us for what has happened rather than acknowledge the violation of our rights to human security, or the discrimination of women and families, such as those that represent Nuestra Hijas de Regreso a Casa.
The consequences of this problem have dimensions that require specific action as well as individual attention. However, they also require the assistance of social networks, a fact that has favorable impact our group. Nonetheless, our organization seeks to provide social support in this border town, so that cases of serial femicide in Juarez, as well as the disappearance of young women, will never return.
A large number of people and organizations have shown their solidarity with our cause through their equal participation. Those efforts provide us with a great deal of support. Therefore, we wish to thank them for their efforts in eradicating impunity and violence against the women of our community and the world, and for their support in favor of a just and democratic society and government.
Who We Are
"Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa” (Bring our Daughters Back Home) is a civil association founded by the relatives and friends of young women who are either missing or have been killed in the State of Chihuahua. Together, we face the loss of our daughters by adopting an active approach that allows us to leave behind our feelings of impotence. We denounce these events and call upon authorities to respond to our demands for justice.
Our organization first emerged in early 2001, when the murders and disappearances of women, that had been taking place since 1993 in Juarez, extended to the city of Chihuahua. There, five young girls disappeared within a two-month time span. In an effort to find help, these parents reached out to the larger community. The deaths and disappearances of women and young girls is constantly increasing. NHRC brings together families from Juarez, as well as the hundreds of other people, both nationally and internationally, who have learned of our cause through our efforts: human rights activists, professionals, artists, academics, psychologists, etc. Regrettably, NHRC’s affiliations continues to increase as new families are affected by the disappearance and murder of their daughters.
Victims of these crimes are young women of humble origins. The majority of the time, they are abducted, held captive, and subjected to heinous sexual violence before being killed and left in abandoned lots.
In some cases, their remains are found by transients, sometimes within a few days, other times, years later. In other cases, women are never found, and their relatives have to live with the permanent anguish of not knowing their fate or whereabouts.
It seems that the perpetrators of these crimes choose young women because they have no economic or social power. They are often employed as maquiladoras (factory workers) by the industrial giants that dominate the economy of Juarez. They are also waitresses, students, or employed in other informal markets. Most live in precarious circumstances, and at times, with children to support.
Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Bring Our Daughters Back Home) is an organization of family members and friends of young women who have disappeared and been murdered. It began in February 2001, with a series of public protests sparked by the helplessness and anger associated with the loss of a loved one under such horrible circumstances. In this particular case, it was the disappearance and murder of Lilia Alejandra Garcia Andrade, a young woman whose body was dumped in a vacant lot after she had been severely tortured for five days, and ultimately, strangled.
As more families joined the struggle, these demands, little by little, became what is now Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa. The time had come to begin filing proceedings that would respond to the needs of judicial justice.
The work of the NHRC has been both solemn and responsible. We have elevated the topic of the femicides in Juarez to a national and international level, focusing on not only on disseminating the horrendous and painful facts of these events, but also the search for a solution. Moreover, upon exhausting all legal avenues within the Mexican judicial system, we have sought, in alliance with other organizations, to take our petitions outside of the country. It is our intention to have these cases investigated by the International Court of Human Rights, thereby putting an end to this terrible massacre of women as well as the impunity that surrounds these crimes.
The founders of this organization are Marisela Ortiz (Lilia Alejandra’s teacher) and Norma Andrade (Lilia Alejandra’s mother). Although the authorities and government have chosen to ignore their protests and public complaints, their voices have resonated among the people. As such, they have attracted other families who are also seeking help to find their forgotten daughters. Daughters who, simultaneously with the disappearance and murder of Lilia Alejandra, were kidnapped by unknown assailants in the city of Chihuahua (March 2001).
Once our numbers increased, the next step took us beyond protests and complaints. It was at this point that we began the process of filing institutional procedures; processes that we hoped would reveal the truth and provide us with the justice that up until now had been inaccessible.
Thus, the mission of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa is to seek out both legal and social justice. In other words, we want the authorities and the various levels of government to assume responsibility for this problem, one that is both serious and painful, and not only injures our families, but also society as a whole.
We, the families who participate in this movement, have turned our pain into strength. We have not only confronted the brutal murder of our daughters, but we have also endured the inept, intransigent, corrupt, concealed, and indifferent attitudes of officials and authorities.
Therefore, we find it difficult to put into words the wrenched pain of learning that our young daughters were killed under such circumstances. It leaves an ever-lasting and immense suffering that renders us unable to fight back the sea of tears that accompanies our very thoughts of them; when we see their belongings, or gaze into their photograph. The mere thought of our daughters’ last moments, tortured and killed, only increases our own torment and anguish. We live without living.
This is how our organization began: as a means to turn our indignation, pain, and anger into a force capable of confronting and enduring an inept bureaucracy full of corruption, inefficiency, and complicit officials. Moreover, we stand together against the impunity of political and economic powers as we seek the justice that continues to elude us. Finally, we fight as one to decrease the causes of so many absurd deaths, such as those of our daughters.
Our primary goals seek to, among other things:
• Strive for the administration of justice, expeditiously and according to law, in compliance with international precepts.
• Promote forms of social justice and equity, with the integral promotion of all human rights, not only of victims of femicide.
• Report timely and truthful to the local, national, and international community on developments related to domestic violence, violation of human rights, and the inquiries into our family’s cases.
• Integrate forms of denunciation and lobbying for the efficiency of the international system of human rights protection.
• Support families who are in the same situation as our community of families, promoting actions that assist in the search for their missing daughters and generate information that assists in the preliminary investigations of the public prosecutor.
• Conduct programs that promote emotional health and care for the relatives of victims, utilizing a holistic view of human rights in the areas of food, health, education, adequate housing, and all that is necessary to lead a dignified and secure life.
• Conduct awareness-raising events and public education against these criminal acts, gender violence, and the defense of human rights of women.
• Ongoing training on topics of Human Rights, judicial proceedings, penal system processing, law, and Human Development.
Although our actions began back in February 2001, registration of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa as a Civil Association as stated in Act 11375, occurred in May 2003, and exists in the notary no. 3 Lic. Sergio Granados Pineda, in Chihuahua, Chih. This was due to a lack of resources and the belief that seeking justice for the murders and forced disappearances of our daughters was a legitimate right that did not require permission. Nonetheless, we ultimately chose to formalize our actions and made the decision to become a Civil Association.
Ways to Participate
Responsible participation and solidarity with the actions planned by NHRC, in accordance with one’s availability.
Design and implementation of a variety of programs that are focused on the recovery of emotional and physical health – Of particular concern is how families can recuperate from these painful events (psychologists, doctors, therapists, etc)
We would also appreciate workshops, refresher courses, and training in Knowledge Management, Gender, Human Rights, Legal, Self Esteem, Leadership, etc. Additionally, we welcome diverse therapies that help to strengthen the mothers of these victims in their struggle for the defense of their rights and their search for justice.
Distribution and reproduction of graphic material on our campaigns, as well as the distribution of leaflets related to investigations of the missing.
Dissemination of material and volunteering in social management.
Accompanying families to judicial and legal proceedings in order to accelerate their processes.
Legal and psychological advice.
Attention to physical health.
Project development work for foundations.
Traslation by Rochelle Trotter, PHD