When Rubi Hernandez realised her 14-year-old daughter Iris was missing, she did not wait the mandatory 72 hours before going to the police.
In the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, mothers of the "disappeared" have learned to move quickly.
Ms Hernandez went on a one-woman PR campaign to publicise her daughter's disappearance.
"We called all the local radios. We used the internet. People were putting up posters," she said.
Iris disappeared on May 2, 2005. Two days later police handed her mother the young girl's earrings.
The police had not bothered to remove the charred pieces of ear still attached to them.
It was almost all that was left of the 14-year-old, whose body had literally melted away after being thrown in a rubbish bin and covered in lime.
Iris Hernandez became a statistic in Juarez's bloody profile.
With a population of just 1.5 million, Juarez has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Young women are targeted in sadistic sexual violence known as "femicide".
In 2008, state authorities reported 86 slayings of women.
The homicide rate for women in Juarez far exceeds the Mexican national average and is three times that of Tijuana, a border city of comparable size, according to a recent Inter-American Commission Report.
Eight women have been killed this year.
Ms Hernandez told her story to a Walkley-award winning radio documentary-maker, Colm McNaughton, who has recently returned from Juarez.
He was there producing a piece for ABC Radio National's 360 Documentaries series.
"This is not a place you walk into lightly," he said. "There are no white people hanging around in these areas."
When asked to describe the place, McNaughton borrows a quote from Dante: "The air trembles," he said. "It's a scary place."
He asked three people to act as his guide but all refused. He says one person told him: "To be with you is a death sentence."
Three Mexican journalists were reported murdered in January of this year.
One border, different worlds
Juarez is nestled on the Mexico-US border. Its closest neighbour on the other side, El Paso, boasts one of the lowest crime rates in America.
Juarez, by comparison, is a lawless wasteland, home to some of Mexico's most notorious drug gangs.
It is also home to a massive manufacturing sector that has sprung up around exports to America.
Clothing and electronic goods factories mushroomed when Mexico signed the North America Free Trade Agreement.
It was also around this time the authorities began finding women's bodies in drains, fields and the desert.
It is easy to see why journalists are unpopular in Juarez. They draw attention to the unprecedented drug-related violence consuming the city.
What is less clear are the motives behind the murders of hundreds of young girls like Ms Hernandez's daughter Iris.
Some say the deaths are linked to domestic violence and prostitution.
Others speculate the women have been murdered for their organs to sell on the black market in the US.
Others believe the killings are part of grisly initiation ceremonies for members of Mexico's drug cartels.
McNaughton says a number of factors converge to create a climate of fear in which young, slim, dark-skinned women are preyed upon.
"It's a form of terror. And it's visited upon some of the most vulnerable and the most unorganised," he said, referring to the mostly migrant factory workers of Juarez.
Their poverty exposes them to greater risk of abduction as they travel home from long hours in the factories.
Since 1993, more than 350 women's bodies have been found sexually abused, mutilated and dumped.
While the exact figure is unknown, Rupert Knox, a researcher on Mexico with Amnesty International's London office, puts the figure close to 450 women.
"The commonality behind those crimes is the misogyny - the targeting of women because they're women," Mr Knox said.
He agrees with the use of the term "femicide" to describe the killings.
"The institution of the state is not acting in a way to protect women when they have information available, and that's the key to Juarez's femicide," he said.
"Because it's not just the act of murdering women, it's where the state is implicated in its negligence."
A "missed opportunity"
In 2004, the Mexican government commissioned a federal task force to look into the killings.
This was considered a positive step after years of bungled efforts in which police dismissed the murders as unrelated.
However, one year after the investigative unit was established, Ms Hernandez had little confidence in the police.
She used the money raised in the search for Iris to send bone fragments over the border to El Paso for DNA testing.
Mexican authorities have made steps to address some of the flaws in their original casework.
"Bodies were misidentified, autopsies weren't carried out and remains were simply jumbled together so that you could never determine the cause of death," Mr Knox said.
But he says, due to a lack of political will, the Mexican government's special task force failed.
He said there was a belief among the people of Juarez that ongoing negligence on the part of authorities meant the investigation was destined to fail.
He describes the special task force as a "missed opportunity".
In December last year a court found the response of the Mexican authorities was totally inadequate.
The Inter-American Commission Report says the fact much of the violence against women goes unpunished means it will continue to happen.
Last month Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a shift in strategy.
In Ciudad Juarez, he would hand more power to the federal police rather than the army, in a bid to stem the femicide and counter the hold of the narco gangs.
Ms Hernandez was seven months pregnant when Iris was abducted. Her youngest daughter is now five years old. For her sake, let's hope the president succeeds.