It is always a terrifying ordeal for a woman to muster the strength to flee an abusive relationship. Throw in the violence that permeates Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, as a result of the “war on drugs,” and the decision to seek refuge at a shelter can seem heroic.
Irma Casas Franco, director of Casa Amiga, a women’s shelter in Ciudad Juárez, will talk about the work she and others are doing to help women and children who are suffering from extreme forms of violence as they are caught in the crosshairs of the war during a special presentation on Tuesday, March 19, at California State University, Northridge. Her talk will take place at 7 p.m. in the Whitsett Room, room 451 of Sierra Hall, located on the west side of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
“Casa Amiga has been the only shelter for abused women and children in Ciudad Juárez for more than a decade,” said journalism professor, Kent Kirkton, director of CSUN’s Institute for Arts and Media, one of the sponsors of Casas Franco’s visit. “The first year Casa Amiga was established, the shelter handled 255 clients. By the beginning of the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ in 2007, the clinic was already treating more than 27,000 cases a year, even when women were warned not to visit the shelter.”
Casas Franco will provide an assessment of how the violence will continue to affect women and children in very specific ways, and the urgent need for more legal, psychological, educational, and humanitarian aid from allies and people who care about the status of women in Ciudad Juárez.
Irma Guadalupe Casas Franco started working as a volunteer in Casa Amiga when it was established in 1999 while she was attending university and getting a degree in psychology. By 2005, and after finishing her master’s, Casas Franco became a full-time psychologist, and one year later, she started directing Casa Amiga’s psychology unit. In 2008, she directed the operations of the shelter and, in 2009, Casas Franco became Casa Amiga’s director, the position that she holds today.
Her visit to CSUN is being sponsored by the Institute for Arts and Media as well as CSUN’s Department of Psychology, Women’s Research and Resource Center, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and Department of Chicana/o Studies.