Debanhi Escobar killings: Hundreds of women protest after missing 18-year-old law student is found dead

Hundreds of women marched through downtown Mexico City and its suburbs on Sunday to protest the horrific death of an 18-year-old law student in the northern city of Monterrey.

Protesters also marched in the rugged suburb of Nezahualcoyotl, where two women were killed last week. The protesters, mostly women, carried signs with “No to harassment” and “Mexico is a mass grave.”

Protest following the death of Debanhi Escobar in Mexico City
A woman holds a drawing of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old law student whose body was found submerged in a water tank inside the grounds of a motel in the northern state of Nuevo Leon as they take part in a march to demand justice for the victims for gender-based violence and homicide in Mexico City on April 24, 2022.

QUETZALLI NICTE-HA / REUTERS


In Mexico City, the march was largely peaceful unlike many previous women’s rights demonstrations in recent years. The protesters did not spray slogans on the angel, a high stone, monumental shaft commemorating the country’s independence.

Instead, the small missing posters taped on the one that each described a woman’s disappearance. Many of the posters depicted Debanhi Escobar, whose body was found Thursday in a cistern at a motel in Monterrey, almost two weeks after she had disappeared.

Marchere shouted “Justice, justice!” and carried a banner with the text “24,000 missing” about missing women. In total in Mexico, the number of missing people of all genders has risen to over 100,000.

Activists say police and prosecutors have been slow and ineffective in investigating the cases.

These criticisms were reinforced when the father of Debanhi Escobar said the authorities had searched the motel several times. But it was only before workers reported a foul odor from an underground water tank that investigators finally found her body. She had died of a blow to the head, apparently shortly after she was last seen on April 8.

Her case shocked Mexico because the young woman was left on the side of a highway late at night, allegedly after a taxi driver tried to caress her.

The case made headlines because of a gruesome photo taken of the driver who was supposed to get her home that evening.

The driver, who worked for a taxi app, took the picture to show the 18-year-old got out of his car alive on the outskirts of Monterrey. There she was, a young woman standing alone at night next to a highway, wearing a skirt and high sneakers.

The picture seemed to speak of the young woman’s enormous vulnerability and self-confidence – or desperation.

No one saw her again until late Thursday, when investigators managed to pull her body from the 12-foot-deep water tank near a pool at the roadside motel.

Protest following the death of Debanhi Escobar in Monterrey
A woman holds up a reward poster during a protest following the death of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old law student who disappeared on April 9 in the midst of a wave of women’s disappearance in Nuevo Leon’s state, in Monterrey Mexico on April 22, 2022.

STRINGER / REUTERS


On Tuesday, Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Garcia said he would increase funding and resources to help combat gender-based violence, Reuters reported.

“We are working very hard to solve the causes of this problem, and I want to be very clear: to the rapists and those who commit genocide, and all those who hurt the women in Nuevo Leon, we know we will find them and punish them. to the full extent of the law, “Garcia said in a Facebook post.

Critics are concerned that even when authorities are encouraged to act by public outcry, investigations are rarely timely or effective.

Investigators said 200 people used drones, search dogs and security camera footage reviews to search for Escobar, even though her body was not far from where she left the taxi.

Homicide has increased in recent years in Mexico, rising from 977 in 2020 to 1,015 in 2021. These were just cases classified as “feminicides”, a legal term used in Mexico when women are killed because of their gender. Kills on women are generally much higher.

The disappearance of women remains high, with around 1,600 reported missing so far this year. Officials say 829 of them are still listed as missing and 16 were found dead.

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