Pope Francis in Mexico: Will he tackle the issue of femicide?

In the build up to the Pope's visit to Mexico, the families of female murder victims are asking whether femicide will be addressed by the Pontifex.

A woman walks past graffiti on a street during a demonstration to demand policies to prevent femicides on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 25, 2015. The graffiti reads "Not another (woman) less".Reuters

The government of one Mexican state, Jalisco, issued a "gender alert" on Monday after it was revealed that at least eight of its municipalities have reported an increase in femicide over the past four years.

It is a prevalent issue in Mexico, and one that many women hope will be tackled by Pope Francis.

"We deserve that the pope makes a statement about femicides," said María Antonia Márquez, the mother of a femicide victim. If he doesn't, it will be "one more that does not listen to us, dead or alive... it's like we are second-class citizens."

Márquez's daughter was killed in 2004. Just two days before, Márquez had received a call from her 23-year-old daughter who said she was planning to leave her abusive husband. "Everything will be all right. I will still find the love of my life," she said.

However, two days later, she was murdered. Her two children watched as she was strangled to death, according to Buzzfeed.

Femicide is a technical term that not all female murder victims fall into the bracket of. It refers to the murder of a woman because of their gender. For a woman's death to be considered femicide, one of the following must have happened: the victim was isolated before her death, she was sexually abused or her body was left in a public place.

Since 2010, there have been 922 cases of femicide just in the state in which Márquez lived.

Violence is high on the Pope's agenda, said Monsignor Eugenio Lira, who will coordinate the Papal visit. However, it is unlikely that femicide will be touched on specifically because "other people who have suffered other forms of violence will feel excluded, like they are not taken into consideration."

However, activist groups are fighting for its explicit inclusion. They argue that Francis has a responsibility to address it, because "the one who has not recognized, who makes invisible, who has not made a statement, who has in a way been an accomplice, is the Catholic hierarchy in Mexico," Ana Yeli Perez, a legal adviser to the National Citizen's Observatory on Femicide said.

The visit is an opportunity for Pope Francis to show that he does not shy away from big issues, Jose Barba, the head of a group of former Legionaries of Christ who were sexually abused by a priest, added.

"If the Pope doesn't talk about the dead women of Juárez it means that intentionally, definitely, he doesn't see it as productive," said Barba. "It's too much of a hot potato."

The National Citizen Femicide Observatory said that at least seven women are killed every day in Mexico.