A rash of natural disasters has torn through parts of North America and the Caribbean in recent weeks. Hurricane Harvey’s death toll is still rising in Texas, damage from Hurricane Irma is still being assessed, and much of Puerto Rico is without power and adequate food and water, finding itself on the brink of a humanitarian crisis after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Mexico City is also reeling after a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit earlier this month. Its current death toll sits at 344 people. Many, including celebrities, are making large monetary donations to assist in recovery efforts, while others are working in more local, on-the-ground ways.
A group of Mexico City women calling themselves the Feminist Brigade are doing just that, setting out to search for people buried in rubble following the deadly quake. These women want all of the earthquake’s victims to be recovered and paid tribute, even those who are poor and may have lived on the margins of society.
“We are women defending women,” one of the Brigade’s volunteers told Broadly outside of a collapsed factory at Chimalpopoca and Bolivar in the working-class La Obrera. “The people in this factory are women, and they are immigrant women in a country where they are very much discriminated against, in a country that doesn’t care much about them. Knowing the treatment that they face in the factories, it was up to us as feminists [to come help].”
The Feminist Brigade, who, according to Broadly, initially rallied via Facebook groups, is focused first on finding female — and largely undocumented immigrant — workers. An Instagram video shows the rubble of the factory site which, according to the LA Times, housed a textile factory, a toy factory, a clothing wholesaler, and a tech distributor.
The building was quickly bulldozed and the search for survivors called off, even as recovery at other sites continued. Other factory workers say that the total 23 people found — 21 dead and two alive — is nowhere near the 50-100 workers that would most likely have been in the building at the time of the earthquake.
Memorials for the seamstresses of the Chimalpopoca factory now cover the site. Graffiti covers the remaining shreds of walls and floors.
“The life of a seamstress is worth more than all of your machines!”
Have you been following the news and recovery efforts in Mexico? Let us know @BritandCo.
(Photos via Rafael S. Fabres / Getty)