The killing of Ingrid Escamilla last weekend has gripped the nation and ignited a fresh round of protests over Mexico’s high levels of violence against women.
On Friday, demonstrators hurled paint at the entrance to the National Palace to protest Escamilla’s death and other “femicides” — murders of women because of their gender. Additional protests were planned for Friday evening and Saturday.
Escamilla’s case shocked Mexicans not only because her death was so gruesome but because it was so publicized. Photos of her mutilated body were leaked to two tabloids. One of them, Pasala, headlined a photo spread, “It was Cupid’s fault.”
Mexicans struck back on social media, insisting that Escamilla should be memorialized not by such ghastly photos but instead by beautiful images. Thousands of people posted or shared pictures of flowers, rainbows and animals, using hashtags such as #IngridEscamilla and #IngridFotos.
“You deserve to be remembered for who you were, not what they did to you,” said Twitter user @itsamonbebe, who posted nature pictures.
Prominent figures including the writer Valeria Luiselli and Mexico’s ambassador to Washington, Martha Bárcena, joined the campaign.
Escamilla’s husband confessed to the crime, according to media reports. The city’s public security department confirmed his arrest.
Mexicans have voiced increasing frustration with violence against women. The country recorded more than 1,000 deaths classified as femicides last year, part of a historic high of 35,588 killings. Women have marched in scores of protests in the past two years over gender-based killings, rape and harassment. In recent months, they have launched strikes at universities throughout the country to protest sexual violence.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador touched off another round of outrage this week when he upbraided a journalist for asking about femicides as he was telling a news conference about a special government raffle.
“I don’t want femicides to distract from the raffle,” he said.
On Friday, he said he was not dismissing the problem. “As I have said, we are against femicides,” he told reporters. “We are doing things every day to guarantee peace and tranquility.”
López Obrador’s faux pas came after the country’s attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, sparked an uproar by suggesting that femicides should not be considered a crime separate from homicides. In the wake of the denunciations, the government backed off the proposal.
On Friday, Valentine’s Day, dozens of women tossed red paint and sprayed graffiti on the front entrance of the National Palace, the president’s home and office. They insisted López Obrador apologize for his remark and demanded an end to impunity. Less than 10 percent of femicides in Mexico are solved.
“Today we are all Ingrid Escamilla,” one protester told journalists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to stress the collective action.
Nineteen states and Mexico City have declared gender violence alerts, which impose emergency measures and are also aimed at raising awareness.
Demonstrations against violence against women have become more aggressive as women have sought to focus attention on the issue. Last year, marchers in Mexico City destroyed bus stops and smashed windows as part of their protests.
In another sign of women’s frustration, thousands of them jammed Mexico City’s central plaza, the Zocalo, in November to chant a Chilean protest song, “A Rapist in Your Path,” that has become a feminist anthem throughout Latin America.