efe-epaBy Marti Quintana Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

In Ciudad Juarez a group of women sure of their rights are defending their lives and liberty in this city on the US border where femicides have doubled over the past two years.

"Last year more than 90 were killed," the coordinator general of the NGO Red Mesa de Mujeres of Ciudad Juarez, Imelda Marrufo, told EFE, adding that the "impunity" of these crimes, which in Mexico is around 98 percent, encourages attacks against women.

Violent crime continues to hound this city in Chihuahua state where the Juarez, Sinaloa and New Generation Jalisco cartels fight to control the illegal drug trade.

According to a recent Red Mesa de Mujeres report, from 1993 to 2017 more than 1,600 women were murdered here.

The worst years were 2010 and 2011, with 191 femicides each. Then, after a gradual decline, the number of women slain in this city of 1.5 million inhabitants went from 57 in 2016 to 92 in 2017. In Spain, meanwhile, a country of close to 50 million inhabitants, 48 women were killed last year by macho violence.

Women not only have femicide to fear but also kidnapping, domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual slavery. "It's the fruit of a misogynous culture," Marrufo said.

Complaints are investigated by Chihuahua's Prosecutor's Office Specialized in the Woman, an agency create "expressly" to comply with a protocol of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Cottonfield case, where the bodies of eight missing women were found early this century.

"We deal with domestic violence in all its forms: economic, psychological and any kind of physical violence that affect women," the Specialized Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Silvia Najera said.

On the positive side, the Red Mesa de Mujeres and the Specialized Prosecutor's Office noted the Alba Protocol for finding missing women, with a percentage of success of 98 percent. The remaining 2 percent, Najera said, are usually women escaping from the domestic violence in their homes who "even head for somewhere outside the state."

Surprising, however, is the difference of data between the two organizations. The Specialized Prosecutor's Office reported 20 femicides in 2016, a figure that went up to 41 in 2017. In other words, the number of murders also doubled, but there were fewer.

And at least half of those cases ended up in court, the spokeswoman said, which is to say, the suspects were arrested and tried for murder.

In the Fray Garcia de San Francisco neighborhood, the NGO helps women organize a community defense group.

For them, violence is more than a statistic. "We're always afraid if our daughters go out alone," said Dora Ferman, a saleswoman with four children.