MEXICO CITY — The gruesome murders this month of a woman and a girl in Mexico have shocked the nation, triggering a groundswell of outrage punctuated by near-daily street protests, unbridled fury on social media and growing demands for incisive government action against gender-based violence. The outcry over their deaths is forcing a reckoning in a country that has long wrestled with violence against women, analysts and activists say. Inthe Mexican government recorded 1, incidents of femicidethe crime of killing women or girls because of their gender — a 10 percent increase from The overall of women who die violently in Mexico has also increased, rising to 10 killings per day in from seven per day inaccording to the Mexico office of U.
The western Mexican state of Sinaloa is home to the country's most powerful and bloody drug cartel. The money it generates has left its imprint on the relationships between narcos and young women - and fuelled a local obsession with plastic surgery.
Trading sex for cosmetic surgery in mexico's narco capital
On the desk in her clinic in the city of Culiacan, Dr Rafaela Martinez Terrazas has a stack of applications from potential clients - women wanting surgery. Most of them ask for procedures associated with what has become known as the "narco-aesthetic". A woman with this hyper-feminised, exaggerated silhouette is often referred to as la buchona in Mexico - especially if she has a taste for flashy, deer goods and has a narco lover.
But very often much younger women come - even minors under 18," says the doctor.
The women and teenagers might come for a consultation with their mothers or friends. Others arrive with a man, or alone. And I have various gentlemen who call me and say, 'Hey, doctor - I'm going to send you a girl to operate on.
Now doctor, you know what I like. Don't take any notice of what she says - that's what I'm paying you for,'" Martinez says. This man has sent maybe 30 women to Rafaela Martinez for surgery. Often the payment is made in cash.
That's because the economy here in Sinaloa - restaurants, bars, hospitals - depends on drug-trafficking. Martinez tries to counsel women whose operations are paid for by a lover.
Sometimes they say, 'It's fine, whatever he wants. So they must choose what they want - not what he wants. In her consulting room, the doctor sees the evidence of semi-contractual, often temporary liaisons between men and women. These are personal relationships in Sinaloa shaped - some would say misshaped - by drug trafficking.
Pedro is a powerfully built man in his 30s who does not want to be identified. He describes himself as a personal trainer, and moves in drug-trafficking circles in Sinaloa. Your wife is someone who will be at home looking after your children. The other women you have are more like trophies. A post shared by Emma Coronel Aispuro therealemmacoronel. The rise and fall of a drug kingpin's wife. More than anything it's lust," he says.
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She's looking for a sponsor. And these informal contracts may not only be for surgery. In Sinaloa, where poverty is rife and life precarious as a result of the presence of so many armed groups, a "godfather" may bring a woman not only comfort, but also protection. This is what Carmen again, not her real name was looking for when she made a pact with a narco.
She lives in Culiacan, Sinaloa's biggest city, but comes from a poor, rural area, where as she was often hungry. I remember my grandmother said, 'But you're justwhat are you going to do?
I can work. Carmen moved to Culiacan, and stayed with one of the many families linked to organised crime. But in this house she was sexually assaulted. Carmen took a chance and confided in a man she met. I can walk around anywhere in Culiacan, and I feel super-protected that nothing's going to happen to me.
She doesn't know how many other women have a similar relationship with this same man.
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Carmen is bold and determined. This is a young woman who dreams of going to university and starting her own business, and she has calculated that the way to achieve her goals in Sinaloa is to succumb to the whims of a man she also identifies as extremely dangerous. When I meet him there's talk about mafia, about business - that scares me," she says. And he might not want to do me harm, but he could have me disappeared whether he's bad or not. Carmen is under pressure from her narco-godfather to have plastic surgery to transform her petite figure.
So far she has managed to avoid being taken to a doctor's consulting room. Narco culture's obsession with plastic surgery has leaked into Sinaloa's wider society. Billboards advertising surgeons and their wares appear all over Culiacan, assuring prospective clients they can pay with credit if they do not have ready cash. It's not uncommon for a teenage girl to receive new breasts or a remodelled nose for a birthday or Christmas present.
Men too are nipped, tucked and lipo-suctioned. Janette Quintero, who runs a large hair and beauty salon, has had more than 20 surgical procedures.
For a woman, having surgery is the most beautiful thing in the world - to change things that you don't like about your body," she says. I wanted to be like the others.
Now she says fashion is changing - some women are having the size of their bust and bottoms reduced. But Gabriela also not her real namea year-old single mother with her own business, is not among them. She's very happy with the uber-feminised curves she paid for herself after the break-up of a relationship. Those procedures have raised her self-esteem, she says, even if they have not yet helped her attract the new partner she is looking for. While many women in Sinaloa go through a phase of wanting to be a narco's girlfriend, Gabriela says, she now wants a different kind of man - "someone who's intelligent, a worker, and who's loyal".
It's part of the culture," says Gabriela, philosophically.
Women put up with it while they're supported financially - eyes that don't see, a heart that doesn't feel,". Narco culture has fostered the idea that women are property "owned" by men, says Maria Teresa Guerra, a lawyer who has spent decades advocating for women in Sinaloa. And this increases the risk of violence against women, she believes, whether that is violence from a narco lover or his enemies.
The narcos send a message that women belong to them," Guerra says. In Sinaloa twice as many women are killed using firearms than in other Mexican states. He paid for her cosmetic surgery.
When she was killed, the assassins aimed their bullets at her breasts and her hips - the parts of her body the narco had invested in. How easy is it for a woman to say 'No' to a narco? There's no serious fight against organised crime - there's still complicity. It's the narcos who are protected, not women. Carmen, who is committed to a dangerous liaison with a cartel heavyweight, may not quite have understood this.
Or at least, she refuses to engage with it. And she does not know how much longer she will be able to resist his entreaties to visit a surgeon to enlarge her breasts or make her bottom bigger. But you do not cross the men with guns in Sinaloa.
Image source, Getty Images. Ulises Escamilla. I explain to them that after a while he won't be their boyfriend any more, but their body will be theirs for the rest of their lives.
What is 'la buchona'? The origin of the term is contested, but it is used to refer a look that includes a surgically enhanced hour-glass figure, flashy clothes and expensive accessories Narcos favour la buchona girlfriends - but many women who adopt this style do it simply because it's fashionable, not because they have links to drug-trafficking The Kim Kardashian look above has sometimes been called buchona.
A woman might say, 'OK, my body's yours for six months if you pay for the operation'.
A narco's wife. View this post on Instagram.
And there is something more basic at work too. Pedro has paid for plastic surgery for two women. A deal is done. The relationship became sexual. Image source, Alamy. Janette Quintero. In my 20s, I was the woman with the most pronounced bottom in all of Sinaloa! But those qualities may be scarce in Sinaloa. Image source, US Attorney's Office.
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