This article was originally published by Jorge Rocha on Aztec Reports, a sister publication.
On the night of April 3, Maria Fernanda Contreras texted her mother for the last time, letting her know that she was returning home after meeting a former colleague; right after that, the 27-year-old disappeared.
Concerned for Ms Contreras’ well-being, her family began searching for her in her hometown of Monterrey, providing authorities with information they could find but not receiving much help from the police.
The disappearance of Ms. Contreras is far from being an isolated case in Mexico. In Monterrey alone, 199 people have disappeared in the first months of 2022, including 62 women who have not yet been found.
Violence against women in Mexico is a well-known reality. According to the latest report from the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances on Mexico, 748 women have disappeared in 2022, an average of seven women per day so far this year.
Disappearances and femicides in the country have sparked outrage among Mexicans tired of the violence, and many blame authorities who seem indifferent to the problem.
Hugo Contreras, Ms Contreras’ father, immediately sought to find his daughter the day after she disappeared, alerting authorities to the last recorded location of her phone. Mr. Contreras staked out the address of his last whereabouts for 24 hours, expecting authorities to help to no avail.
Authorities ignored Mr. Contreras’ calls and reportedly ignored evidence relating to the location of the phone. After three days, authorities finally found the body of Ms. Contreras, which showed signs of abuse, inside a residence in the same area where the phone was said to have last been located.
In Monterrey, where 24 women have gone missing in the past 30 days, Governor Samuel Garcia downplayed the role of authorities in the recent spate of gender-based violence in his state by saying women have gone missing in Nuevo Leon due to ” mental health problems .”
However, data shows that femicides in the country are on the rise. In 2021, Mexico reported 977 femicides, increasing the 949 recorded in 2020. For the first few months of 2022, reported femicides stood at 155 as of February 28.
According to the latest study by the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico (REDMI), girls seem to be the most affected by disappearances among minors.
Since 1964, when records began to be kept, 82,328 children have disappeared. Of this total, 19.9% (16,378) remain missing to date, with women accounting for 55.2% of these cases.
Since the beginning of the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018, around 14 children have disappeared every day in Mexico, totaling 19,445 minors reported missing over three years, 55.26% of them young girls.