By Zyanya Camargo Díaz, Mexico.
Translated from French by Jessica Sutton.
Content warning: This article contains mentions of rape and violence which may be distressing.
Every day I try to convince myself that I am a privileged young woman, living in an unhappy country. I have access to free University education, I can freely choose the clothes I like to wear, and thanks to the help of my mother, I am able to obtain contraception – knowing as I do, that I will never be a supposed “good mother”. In short, I seem to possess the kind of liberty a huge number of Mexican girls and women will never be able to enjoy. But, each time I read the news, each time there is an “urgent meeting” at my University, I realise that my liberty is only an illusion.
Of course I acknowledge that I don’t live in an environment as hostile as indigenous women; women erased from history, dispossessed of a legacy. Or women who have been influenced by a violent religious upbringing which they are forced to accept. I know that I am ignorant, that I have never lived in these communities. I am therefore unable to talk about the situations these women live each day as if I knew them. But today I speak only for myself and for all the women who might be able to identify with my situation, always being conscious of these alternate perspectives.
I live in Mexico City, the capital of my country, a city which presents itself as being tolerant, and even proud of, its diversity. Around 20 million people share this space currently. Everyday, we have to learn how to live with millions of people around us without going crazy, in a city which is huge, chaotic and definitely hostile. Add to that having a vagina? Well, then you have to put in double the effort. Living in Mexico City as a woman, is becoming simply a question of life or death.
Writing this is very painful. I see my country being ripped apart by violence, corruption and indifference. Writing this is painful because, sometimes, I find myself losing my strength, my hope. I am a young student, and I could be killed simply because I don’t have the body of a man.
Each day in Mexico, 10 women don’t get to return home. Each day, 10 women are killed, while only 1.5% of those who commit femicides are brought to justice. There is no justice here. Somewhere in my country, each day, 10 bodies are found, in the road, in a lake, in the middle of nowhere. 10 bodies, who may be raped, tortured, burnt, left in pieces. I think to myself, tomorrow will I be found out there? What about my mother? What about my friends? Just imagining it rips any courage from me. I’m afraid. I tremble.
Yes, I can choose the outfits I like to wear, but I can’t wear them without weighing the risk of being watched, touched, raped. I’m afraid. I tremble.
Yes, I can go to the most prestigious University in Latin America without paying a cent. But it’s a university that, in the last two years, has seen the loss of 6 female students to violence, without seeming to care. Can you imagine? Six femicides, and most of the perpetrators are still walking free. And yet where are Aidée, Jenifer, Miranda, Graciela, Sol et Lesvy ? I’m afraid. I tremble.
Women in Mexico are forced to become ghosts, having to reduce themselves almost to nothing, just to survive. And this fight isn’t just for Mexico, for this feeling that our country has betrayed us. This fight is for us, women. It is for the 10 women who tomorrow, won’t return home. I’m afraid. I tremble. But I yell, I write, because I exist, and so do these women.
Day after day our sisters are killed, but we become closer to each other. We are afraid, and we tremble, but we listen to each other, we come out into the road to demand our right to live. We may have feelings of fear and hate, but we resist, and share with other women the courage we still have in us. We continue, slowly but surely, while the fear and hate falls back, and we will continue until life returns to my country from the shadows.
Read the original text in French below:
About the Author:
Zyanya Camargo Díaz is a language and modern french and francophone literature student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She was selected as the representative of Mexico at the 2019 LabCitoyen conference in Paris on “Women’s Rights: Equality and Citizenship”, where she spoke about global problems of violence against women. She has participated in several conferences on the political, cultural and social role of literature. She helps organise the Coloquio de Letras Modernas: de estudiantes para estudiantes (Conference of Modern Letters: by students, for students) – this year this conference was dedicated to literature by women and non binary people. Currently, Zyanya works as a English to Spanish translator, and as a French teacher.