"Tell me how you live with so much pain?” asked Marisela Escobedo Ortiz. "I can’t keep living this way. I don’t want to live anymore."
Norma Ledezma Ortega took Marisela’s hands in hers and said, "Marisela, pain is never going to leave. It’s going to be with you until the last day of your life so make it your ally."
Norma of grantee partner, Justicia para Nuestras Hijas, remembers the pain in Marisela’s eyes that day. "I saw a tired woman, but I saw a mother who was going to fight against adversity, against the same death that awaited her."
A few weeks later, Marisela was assassinated outside of the governor’s office in Chihuahua, Mexico, while she was protesting the release from prison of her daughter’s murderer, Sergio Barazza. Marisela became an ardent women’s human rights defender after the violent death of her daughter Rubi, whose body was found burned and dismembered in a garbage bin. Norma and Marisela met after judges freed Rubi’s murderer, in a meeting with other mothers who were seeking justice from government officials. The two exchanged phone numbers and Marisela decided that lawyers from Justicia para Nuestras Hijas would represent her case.
On International Human Rights Day, we remember Marisela Escobedo Ortiz. We honor her courage, love for her family, and commitment to justice.
"Remember her as the mother who died as she wanted to, fighting and demanding justice for her daughter Rubi," said Norma. "Remember her so that her death isn’t in vain. She will serve as an example of unconditional love, fighting against the worst enemy: injustice and impunity."
Femicide is one of the most serious problems facing women in Chihuahua. Since 1993, the city has seen a wave of unsolved murders. Victims as young as six have been raped, tortured, murdered, and abandoned. Hundreds simply vanish. Global Fund for Women supports women who are at the front lines responding to these horrific crimes, like Justicia para Nuestras Hijas, an organization of family members of women who disappeared or were murdered. The group locates missing women and girls and seeks justice for survivors and their families.
Since 2002, Justicia para Nuestras Hijas has carried out 50 investigations, litigated four cases against alleged murderers, presented three cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and won six convictions. As a result of their work, 30 forcibly disappeared women have been found alive. In 2005, Justicia convinced the state government to hire a team of forensic anthropologists to identify the remains of women in the state of Chihuahua; as a result the remains of more than 30 women were identified.
"The love for Rubi and the radical decision to not stop fighting for justice that she so yearned for has been an example to follow," said Norma, reflecting on Marisela’s impact on Justicia para Nuestras Hijas. “Marisela was the woman who died a fighter but she didn’t lose the war, she only lost the battle.”