Ciudad Juarez: Heaven for Femicides
“Maquiladora” stems from the Spanish verb “maquilar”, which means “to assemble”.
According to the Business Dictionary, Maquiladora is a Mexican 'twin plant'
manufacturing program under which specialized production facilities can import
components free of duty for in-bond storage into Mexico, then use them for assembly,
and subsequently re-export them as finished products to the United States (4).
According to 2004 figures, Ciudad Juarez is hosting around 275 to 500 assembly
plants and employing between 173,642 and 250,000 workers, with another 10,000
workers located across the border in El Paso, Texas(5). Employment rates in Ciudad
Juarez are close to 100%; but this figure does not directly impact the decrease in
poverty, as it can be illustrated by the slum expansion in the outskirts of the city. Sixty
percent of Mexican workers live below the poverty line, which is defined in México as
earning less than USD$1.95 per day. Most maquila workers earn only an average of
$24-55 (US dollars) per every 45 to 50 hour work week. These wages are also
approximately 5 to 10 times less than the amount earned by workers in neighboring El
Paso, Texas (6).
In addition to the above, maquiladoras heavily rely on a female workforce. 80% of
the workers active in maquilas are women, seemingly because women are more docile,
laborious and are willing to work for less pay than men. In general terms, women occupy
the lowest paid ranks in the maquila industry and their superiors are always male
individuals (6). Due to an inherent patriarchal social model in Mexico, women are
expected to follow orders given by their male counterparts. As such, they are supposed
to be less ambitious and hence creates an environment ripe for females being paid less
than their male counterparts for equal or similar work.