Natalia Beristain Noise on Netflix is a heartbreaking Mexican drama that follows the attempts of a mother, Julia (Juliette Egurrola), to find her daughter, Gerturis, who has been missing for nine months. During her journey to find her daughter, Julia realizes that the trauma she is going through is not the only one, as many people across Mexico have gone through the same thing due to high rates of femicide in the country. Femicide refers to the killing of women because of their gender, although the definition may vary depending on cultural context. Having already accumulated millions of hours on Netflix, Noise is a screaming and traumatic protest against the crimes faced by women in Mexico, where 10 women are killed every day according to official figures.
Noise delves into this grim reality of Mexico through Julia’s story as an ineffective policing system, inherent cultural misogyny and widespread corruption prevent missing women from being found in time, only to be found dead in graves municipalities and vacant lots. Over the years, the numbers have only increased. From 427 female victims in 2015 to 1,004 in 2021, the rate of femicide has doubled unabated in the near future as authorities continue to turn a blind eye. In 2021, nearly 1,000 female deaths were identified as femicide, and the rate is only rising. As recently as 2022, the death of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old law student, was followed by large protests by women holding signs reading “Mexico is a mass grave”. The situation has only worsened as authorities have continued to blame the victims without acknowledging or identifying the larger problem that has existed since the problem of femicide in Mexico entered the public debate.
Femicide in Ciudad Juárez was just the tip of an iceberg
The femicides in the cities of Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, which took place between 1993 and 2005, brought the notorious issue of business in Mexico to the forefront of the international scene when Amnesty International reported that more than 370 young people women and girls had been killed since 1993. The term “systemic sexual femicide” originated to refer to the pattern of abduction, sexual violence, torture and murder that was noted in all of these deaths. It was subsequently found that in almost 30% of cases, the perpetrators of the violence were men known to the women. This statistic sheds light on crimes that go beyond drug cartels and organized crime, as it shows that women are exposed to a subordinate position to that of men due to the gender inequality etched in the Mexican society.
Many of the bodies were found to have been exposed to the same pattern of horror, which included rape, strangulation and murder. While the disappearances and murders of women were part of life in Ciudad Juárez, a center for criminals and drug cartels, the discovery of eight corpses in a mass grave in November 2001 attracted greater attention. Many of the victims of these attacks are women and girls who come to maquiladora factories to work in extremely inhumane and exploitative conditions.
The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 expanded the maquila industry in cities like Ciudad Juárez. Hence, women started migrating to the cities to work as cheap labor in these factories as the opportunity to find financial freedom was extended to these women. But danger awaited them in ravines and deserted plots as the government and authorities continued to acknowledge crimes against women in most reported cases. In all these cases, botched police investigations marred by irregularities allowed the perpetrators to roam free while the women feared for their lives.
Femicide cases in Mexico continue to rise
A study by a government commission, formed following the Chihuahua murders, found that the number of feminicides was underreported because data was not properly recorded, with many Mexican states not even keeping a distinction between victims by sex. The work of the commission led in 2007 to the general law for women’s access to a life without violence. Three years later, femicide was added to the federal penal code. However, statistics suggest there is little respite for women who continue to be victimized by femicide. The number of feminicides has doubled in the past eight years. More worryingly, 11.6% of femicide victims are minors.
The 2017 rape and murder of 24-year-old Diana Velázquez, which received widespread media attention, further substantiated systemic issues with investigating crimes after they occurred, let alone preventing them. Diana had left her home to make a phone call before being found raped and murdered outside a warehouse later that day. The ensuing investigation proved to be an example of the failure of police procedure – one of the reasons why crimes against women have continued in many Mexican states. Diana’s body was first identified as a male body by police, and her clothes – the main evidence of the DNA collection – were misplaced.
In the case of Debanhi Escobar, the government inquest suggested she died after falling into a water tank and receiving a single blow to the head. However, a second autopsy commissioned by her family revealed that she had been sexually assaulted. Debanhi’s father accused the attorney general’s office of leaking the report to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Debanhi’s disappearance and death has led to widespread protests with thousands of women coming together to demand justice for Debanhi and women like her being murdered for no reason. The fact that Debanhi has been exposed to a campaign of shame further reflects the dire situation women face in the country in which they are blamed for their own dire fate.
Many sociologists, who have studied the femicide epidemic that gripped Mexico, have identified the inherent cultural misogyny and slavish treatment of women as one of the inherent factors responsible for the disease. He directly contributed to the creation of a system that does not take crimes against women seriously. Noise reflects the same problem as a system of flaws and inefficiencies have largely contributed to the threatening situation. Over the years, the number of femicides has only increased, followed by more protests. More than 800 protests have taken place in Mexico against gender-based violence since 2020.
The feminist movement has grown over the years with organizations such as Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa AC, which means “Our Daughters Back Home”, working to bring attention to rampant feminicides in cities such as Ciudad Juárez. But official figures continue to present a growing problem. According to Al Jazeera, more than 24,000 women are missing according to official government figures. While the socio-cultural causes of feminicide have made it a problem that will continue to haunt women in Mexico for the foreseeable future, it is quite clear that the negligence shown by the government and authorities has only made the situation worse. . The motto Ni Una Más, which means “Not another”, has become a slogan of frustration for women in Mexico. As the struggle of women for women continues in Mexico, the growing and endemic problem of femicide reflects a peril deeply rooted in the country’s psyche.
Now that Noise has racked up millions of viewer hours, hope it raises awareness about this persistent and troubling issue.