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Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

Ghouls are talking about the fantastical Tigers Are Not Afraid. A journey through the eyes of children surviving the very real ghost towns of a Mexican town overrun by violence and corruption. There is a strength and power for resistance in youth imagination. Prepare to have your heart broken.

Sources in episode:

In Tigers Are Not Afraid, A Dark Fantasy Amid Mexico’s Drug War - NPR

Mexico: Murders Women Rise Sharply As Drug War Intensifies - The Guardian

Mexico’s Missing Girls Canal - The Guardian

How Mexican filmmaker Issa López defied expectations with ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’ - LA Times

The Haunted Street Children of “Tigers Are Not Afraid” - The New Yorker

How you can help make a difference: 

Info on Mexican Femicide - Washington Post

Mexican Feminist Group

ACLU - Border Crisis

Abolish ICE - AFSC

Campaign to Shut Down Berks - Pennsylvania ICE Center

Shut Down Berks Campaign - Free Migration Network

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Horrors in Mexico: Femicide and Missing Children

Kat Kushin

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Tigers Are Not Afraid is an emotional film with a lot of violence against women and children. The film is written and directed by Issa Lopez who says she was inspired by reality to make the film. In an article from NPR In Tigers Are Not Afraid, A Dark Fantasy Amid Mexico’s Drug War, the director explains some of what inspired the film.

There's a universal fascination with the figure of the drug lord, and with the cartels, and a certain type of romance even, which is terrible, that has emerged from it," she says. "But nobody is talking about the children left to their own devices because their parents have been taken, their parents were displaced or sometimes killed. Nobody is addressing this as the proper war it is. And I felt that we needed that story; someone needed to do it.

After doing some research on my own, the information I found was heartbreaking. The brutality against women and children in the film is based on very real things that are extremely horrific. In an article from the Guardian, Mexico: Murders Women Rise Sharply As Drug War Intensifies, a report from Mexico’s interior department states the annual femicide rate in 2016 was 4.4 per 100,000 women. The report goes on to state that of the 52,210 killings of women recorded over a 32 year period, that a third of that number took place from 2010-2017. The article states that the rise in killings of women coincides with Mexico’s militarized offensive against drug cartels which was launched in late 2006 by then-president Felipe Calderon. The highest violence rates and femicide rates take place in areas with high crime, and high drug cartel presence. Many of these murders take place after kidnappings and done outside of the home. Women being murdered in public is said to indicate how they are culturally and systemically devalued.

The study also said that while the vast majority of male homicide victims are killed with firearms, many femicides continue to be by “the most cruel means” such as stabbing, beating and strangling, which it said reflects misogyny.

“This means there has not been success in changing the cultural patterns that devalue women and consider them disposable, allowing for a social permissiveness in the face of violence and its ultimate expression, femicide,” the report said.

The horror of this continues, with the disappearances of girls and women across mexico. In an article Mexico’s Missing Girls Canal, there is focus on Edomex, which is claimed to be the powerhouse of Mexico city’s modernization. However it is also a place entirely unsafe for “Edomex is no-man’s land; it doesn’t exist to the outside world,” said Cynthia Galicia, a legal expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

This is stated because 1,258 girls and women have been reported missing in Edomex between 2011-2012. 53% of that number were children aged 10 to 17. To make matters more horrific, over 448 women have been murdered in the state, their mutilated bodies left and displayed in public places like roads, parks, and shopping areas. This is not the first instance of this, where 379 women were sexually assaulted, murdered and dismembered in Ciudad Juarez, their bodies left in the desert.

Edomex, according to Cynthis Galicia is a "poor state, people are anonymous, and there are no campaign groups, so it has remained invisible.” A big issue being the lack of investigations and accountability for the groups murdering these women and children. In fact, less than 5% of murders, a small handful of trafficking cases, are successfully prosecuted in Mexico. Activists in Mexico are worried if there will ever be justice or reckoning of the Edomex killings, or if that is even possible. The lack of criminal justice presence in these communities, as well as a lack of stored DNA in Mexico, makes convictions and justice seem impossible. In fact, the lack of criminal justice in these areas makes it near impossible to know for certain why this violence is increasing, and how bad it truly is.

Women are fighting back now in Mexico as a call to end this violence. There have been protests and groups of women fighting back against this systemic issue.