Last Wednesday, a woman wearing a blonde wig boarded a bus in Ciudad Juarez in Northern Mexico, put a gun to the driver's head, and pulled the trigger. The next day, an individual appearing to be the same woman did it again. According to emails that someone claiming to be the perpetrator sent to Mexican media over Labor Day weekend, the killings are vengeance for a series of sexual assaults:
Over the weekend, media outlets began receiving emails from the address "Diana the hunter of bus drivers."
"I myself and other women have suffered in silence but we can't stay quiet anymore," the email said. "We were victims of sexual violence by the drivers on the night shift on the routes to the maquilas," a reference to the border assembly plants that employ many residents in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. "I am the instrument of vengeance for several women."
The newspaper Diario de Juarez reported that a witness quoted the killer as telling the second victim, "You guys think you're real bad, don't you?" before shooting him.
The AP's Ricardo Chavez reports that the "vigilante claim is considered one of the working hypotheses in the crimes." Dating back to the early 1990s, thousands of women in Juarez have been killed, and hundreds of those murders remain unsolved. In 2012, Damien Cave of The New York Times reported that the conviction rate for acts of violence against women in Juarez is appallingly low:
Even as overall violence here declines, new clusters of slain women are continually being discovered.
Mexican authorities have made promises to prioritize cases like these for years, and in the wake of international pressure, prosecutors now argue that more of the killings are being solved. But arrests and convictions are exceedingly rare. For the victims found in the mass grave in the Juárez Valley, even the most basic details were still a mystery months later: forensic teams said they were not even sure how many women were buried there.
To many, these women are now part of what looks like a slaughter with peaks and valleys, but no end. In the state office opened a few years ago to investigate violence against women, desks are perpetually covered with stomach-turning case files.
Prosecutors and police may not have been able to do much of anything about violence against women in Juarez, but they've pledged to bring down "Diana the hunter of bus drivers."
Top image: Friends and family members of missing girls and women attend a public hearing with the governor of Chihuahua in Ciudad Juarez February 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez)