Encarni Pindado

MEXICO CITY — For the thousands of Mexican mothers who have lost a daughter, Mother’s Day is a sad affair.

Of the tens of thousands of Mexicans who have gone missing since the start of the drug war, many are young women between the ages of 13-19. Femicides are a major problem; approximately seven Mexican women die violently every day, according to the Women’s National Institute of Mexico. Most cases are never properly investigated.

Over the past four years, the mothers of the dead and disappeared have been congregating at the “Mother’s Monument” in the heart of the Mexican capital to remind the rest of the country that this holiday is a day of mourning for many.

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This year was no different. On Sunday, mothers from different states across Mexico gathered in the capital to demand an end to femicides and mass disappearances.

A group of teenagers show their backs as a form of protest; "Not one more," referring to the thousands of disappeared.

Violence in Mexico has increased dramatically since 2007, and last year saw the most forced disappearances since the start of the drug war, according to government figures. From January to October of last year, a total of 4,832 people were reported missing.  More than 22,300 have been disappeared since 2007.

"Where are they?"

According to an investigation by Mexican newspaper El Universal, women account for 70 percent of disappeared Mexicans between the ages of 13 - 19 in the State of Mexico.

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Sandra Luz Martínez traveled to Sunday's march with her sister and their children to protest the case her missing niece Andrea, who disappeared one day after school. The family turned to the police, but were told not to worry; that Sandra had probably run away with her boyfriend. They never learned of her whereabouts.

Sandra and her family.

“Why are we looking for them?" the mothers chant. "Because we love them.”

“It’s just a day full of sorrow and anguish,” said Carolina Manzano, whose daughter disappeared in 2012 from a shopping mall in the center of Mexico City. She fears her daughter might be a victim of sex trafficking.

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“She has specific characteristics; age, a physical appearance that seems to appeal to sex traffickers," she said. "It doesn’t matter where she is or what has happened to her, I will always look for her."

Erika de la Piedra Manzano disappeared in 2012 in Mexico City while walking out of a shopping mall.

Mothers from all over the country arrived at Mexico’s emblematic monument, The Angel of Independence, at around noon to deliver speeches demanding that the government do more to help victims.

“Some mothers are left sick, both mentally and physically after experiencing so much pain. They have poured all their resources into looking for their missing loved ones. This is why I’m here, representing every single one of them,” said Adela Alvarado,  who dressed as a clown to raise awareness.

Adela, mother of Monica Alejandrina, dresses up as a clown to raise awareness.

Alvarado’s daughter, Monica Alejandrina, disappeared in December 2004 on her way to college. Alvarado suspects the police were involved. She said her family was threatened and had to move after she started to ask too many questions about her missing loved one.

Freelance Photographer.
Interested in social justice, human rights, women voices, travelling and learning.
Currently working on a project about women migration from Central America and Mexico to the US.