Women demonstrate in Mexico City against murders and disappearances

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hundreds of women marched through downtown Mexico City and its suburbs on Sunday to protest the…

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hundreds of women marched through downtown Mexico City and its suburbs on Sunday to protest the horrific death of an 18-year-old in the northern city of Monterrey.

Protesters also marched through the tough suburb of Nezahualcoyotl, where two women were killed last week. Protesters, mostly women, carried signs reading “No to harassment” and “Mexico is a mass grave”.

In Mexico City, the march was largely peaceful, unlike many previous protests for women’s rights in recent years. Protesters failed to spray-paint slogans on the Angel, a large monumental stone well commemorating the country’s independence.

Instead, they pasted small missing posters on them, each describing the disappearance of a woman. Numerous posters depicted Debanhi Escobar, whose body was found in a motel cistern in Monterrey on Thursday, nearly two weeks after he disappeared.

The demonstrators chanted “Justice, justice!” and carried a banner reading “24,000 missing” about missing women. Overall 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 cases.

These criticisms were reinforced when Debanhi Escobar’s father said authorities searched the motel multiple times. But it wasn’t until workers reported a foul smell coming from an underground water tank that investigators finally found his body. She had died from a blow to the head, apparently shortly after she was last seen on April 8.

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

The case made headlines because of a haunting photo taken by the driver, who was due to take her home that evening.

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

The image seemed to speak to the enormous vulnerability and self-confidence – or despair – of the young woman.

No one saw her again until Thursday evening, when investigators managed to pull her body from the 12-foot (4-meter) deep water tank near a roadside motel swimming pool.

Critics are troubled that even when authorities are prompted to act by public outcry, investigations are rarely very timely or effective.

Investigators said 200 staff members used drones, search dogs and critical security camera footage to search for Escobar, although her body lay not far from where she exited the taxi.

Murders of women have increased in recent years in Mexico, from 977 in 2020 to 1,015 in 2021. These were only cases classified as “feminicide”, a legal term used in Mexico when women are killed because of of their sex. Overall, murders of women are much higher.

Disappearances of women remain high, with around 1,600 missing reported so far this year. According to the authorities, 829 of them are still missing and 16 have been found dead.

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