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Latest update : 2016-02-19

Mexico: Ciudad Juarez, the city of missing women

Ciudad Juarez, which Pope Francis has just visited, was long considered the most dangerous city in the world. A city plagued by cartel wars, drug trafficking, violence... and femicides. In the past few decades, thousands of women have been murdered. The bodies of hundreds of them have been found buried in the desert, horribly mutilated. These crimes remain unsolved to this day. Our reporters returned to Ciudad Juarez to meet the mothers of these missing women, who are fighting for justice.

In Ciudad Juarez, some mothers are searching for their daughters and others are mourning them. According to authorities, nearly 1,500 women have been murdered in the city, on the Mexican border with the United States, since the mid-1990s. But Paula (pictured), the mother of Sagrario, who was killed in 1998, is convinced there were many more. When the phenomenon began, in around 1993 or 1994, families were often afraid to speak out and left the city without seeking justice.

In the media today, this wave of femicides no longer receives the same coverage as it did in the late 1990s. However, the problem is far from solved: since the beginning of the year, the authorities admit that eight more young girls have disappeared.

Although various theories abound and there have been many investigations, the mystery of the missing women of Ciudad Juarez has never been solved. Those arrested claim their innocence.

In this city where bars and table dancing attract Americans in seach of less regulated sexual services, where Mexican criminals readily cross the US border a few kilometres away to escape local justice, and where it is now proven that head honchos of prostitution rings have benefited from the complicity of the local police, the girls keep disappearing, one by one, in silence.

By Matthieu COMIN , Laurence CUVILLIER

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