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Deaths in Ciudad Juárez
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Deaths in Ciudad Juárez

In recent times, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, a Mexican borderland city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, USA, has gained world-wide notoriety for more than a decade of serial murder of young women. Although authorities do not know for sure when the women of Juárez began to die in such large numbers, it was during the 1990s that the situation first came to public attention.

More than 360 bodies have been found so far, the youngest being a five-year-old girl. The Mexican police have made several arrests, the first being that of an Egyptian-born chemist, Abdul Latif Sharif (born in 1947), who had been responsible for several rapes in the United States before moving to Ciudad Juárez in 1994 to escape a deportation hearing in Texas. Since his arrest and imprisonment for a murder of a young maquiladora worker in 1995 the police have arrested two groups of men whom they allege Sharif was paying from behind bars to rape and murder on his behalf in an attempt to establish his innocence of the crimes. Despite the arrests of Sharif and his alleged co-conspirators, however, the killings have continued, leading the Mexican police and the public in general to consider many theories, among them that the real killer or killers are still on the loose or that the original killer or killers are in jail and copycats have moved to the area since. There are also accusations that there has been a conspiracy of silence and cover-up by Mexican politicians bribed by the killer or killers. Many of the victims were prostitutes, others were women who worked in the city's many maquiladoras, and many more, like the five-year-old victim, were very young girls who probably had no way of defending themselves against a larger and stronger attacker.

The United States police, according to newspaper reports, have offered help in finding the suspect or suspects in the deaths of these women. In addition, many equal rights and feminist groups have organized vigils in memory of the dead women, as well as public talks to make more people aware of the suspicious deaths of these women, and plans are said to be being made for a movie called Bordertown examining the crimes and starring Jennifer Lopez as an investigative journalist trying to discover the truth behind the crimes.

In 2004, Sally Field and other famous Hollywood actresses went to Ciudad Juárez to speak about women's rights and demand justice for the dead women.