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Hayek and Fonda demand justice in Ciudad Juarez

Originally published in:
Associated Press

Kimberly N. Chase
MEXICO CITY – Prior to their appearance in a Tuesday performance of the off-Broadway hit “The Vagina Monologues,” Jane Fonda and Salma Hayek demanded that Mexico resolve the deaths of more than 300 women murdered over the past decade in northern Mexico.

The Hollywood stars accompanied “Monologues” author and actress Eve Ensler, who has staged previous performances of her play in Mexico City, to advocate for better security in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.

All three performers blamed governmental corruption for the ongoing violence.

“This year, right now, we are going to turn the situation around,” Ensler said. “The government has not done the work it should be doing.”

Ensler said “The Vagina Monologues” elevates the value of women and their bodies.

“If you held a woman's vagina sacred, if you held a woman sacred, you couldn't murder her or rape her or mutilate her or hurt her,” Ensler said, referring to domestic violence and other crimes, including genital mutilation of women in Africa.

The actresses appeared in the theater of the Hotel NH in downtown Mexico City. Ensler and Fonda spoke through a translator, with Hayek jumping in to clarify certain points.

Hayek spoke passionately about the problems she sees in her home country.

“It's really an embarrassment,” she said. “In 10 years, it's not possible to secure this area?”

The Veracruz native said she has taken time off from her film career to advocate for women's rights, and she vowed to continue her fight until justice is achieved in Ciudad Juarez.

“We won't let them rest,” she said, referring to the authorities.

Fonda also said that the police should have been more effective.

“I realize how terrible it is when corruption runs through a state, right down to the police,” she said. But Fonda added that she also thinks U.S. corporations have a stake in the low factory wages of the city, where citizens cannot afford sufficient street lighting and guards to create a safe environment.

“We have work to do in our own country as well,” she said.

Nearly half of all Mexican women report physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse by their partners, according to Mexican government statistics.

All proceeds of Fonda and Hayek's performance were to benefit organizations that help the women and girls of Ciudad Juarez.

In Mexico alone, “The Vagina Monologues” has been staged before 800,000 spectators in 100 cities.

Internationally, the work has been seen in 81 countries and is a collaboration of V-Day, an international initiative to stop violence against women.

“I hope this gala will be the event that ignites the Mexican people,” Ensler said.