Jose Luis Castillo is arguably the most vocal and controversial activist in the Juarez anti-femicide movement. He can be seen all over the city wearing a set of homemade banners with the image of his daughter Esmeralda Castillo Rincon. Esmeralda disappeared in 2009 at the age of 14, just before her quinceañera. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Nov. 2, 2014.
Inside one of the many bars where prostitution is practiced openly. It is in places like this that many of the young women are last reportedly seen alive. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Nov. 2, 2014.
Femicide, broadly defined as the killing of women, is alarmingly common in the border town of Juarez in Mexico; according to Amnesty International, between 1993 and 2005 around 370 women are reported to have suffered violent deaths, and this figure has doubled between 2005 to 2011. Often motivated by robbery, gang wars, and sometimes coinciding with sexual assault, Ana Güezmes, the local representative of United Nations Women told Al Jazeera that “Femicides are a pandemic in Mexico”. This phenomena has gained international recognition in recent years, largely down to the absence of government intervention, though it was a topic which lacked visual representation until recently. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, photographer Gabriel Romero had for years known about the murders of young women in Juarez, though he hadn’t visited the place personally until 2014. It was then that he started to learn about the horrific reality of femicide in this part of the world. The families of the deceased are desperate for information from a government that has done very little to stop this culture of violence.