Fátima’s killing is the latest in a string of brutal crimes against girls and women stirring enormous public outrage directed at Mexico’s president and other top officials. Last week, Ingrid Escamilla, 25, was found stabbed to death and partially skinned. That crime prompted a wave of protests in Mexico City; President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was accused of brushing them off.
In the midst of a fundraising campaign linked to the sale of the presidential plane, he chastised a reporter who asked him about the attacks on women: “I don’t want femicides to distract from the raffle.”
But with the discovery of Fátima’s body over the weekend, pressure on the government is mounting. The hashtags #JusticiaParaFátima and #FatimaVive were trending on Twitter in Mexico City; Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the “outrageous, aberrant, painful” crime would “not go unpunished.”
It’s unclear who killed the girl. Authorities said they were looking for an unidentified woman captured on video picking her up at school and appearing to take her away in a white car. They’ve circulated a wanted poster with a police sketch of the woman and offered 2 million pesos — about $108,000 — for information.
Fátima’s family has blamed the government for not reacting sooner, when she was reported missing.
“Fátima is not with us because the protocols were not followed, because the institutions did not give the attention they should have,” the girl’s aunt Sonia López told reporters over the weekend.
Ernestina Godoy, Mexico City’s prosecutor, said the process of identifying the girl’s body was complicated by her family circumstances. The girl’s father has dementia, and her mother has a mental illness, Godoy said.
López Obrador attempted to link Fátima’s death to what he called a deeper erosion of values. He said Monday that femicides are a product of the “selfishness and accumulation of wealth in a few hands left by neoliberal policies.” He asked protesters not to vandalize the National Palace, as they did last week, when they painted the words “Femicide state” on its walls.
The request only further infuriated Mexicans already appalled by the stream of violence. Protesters returned to the palace Tuesday with signs that read “Moralizing is not the solution.”
Later Tuesday came Fatima’s funeral. A crowd carried Fatima’s coffin from her home. Others carried white and pink balloons.
Some children put toys atop the casket. Fatima’s older sister cried as she spoke.
“This is a very difficult time,” she said. “What I want is justice for my sister. The person who did this is unforgivable, just has no heart.”
In Mexico’s National Congress, the opposition National Action Party proposed creating a special committee for femicides, claiming a “state of national emergency.”
Josefina Vázquez Mota, president of the Senate Committee on Children and Adolescents, said data from Mexico’s Children’s Rights Network shows seven girls and boys disappear in the country every day.
Mexico suffered 35,588 homicides last year, the most since the government began tracking those statistics. More than 1,000 of those deaths were categorized as femicides — the killing of women or girls for their gender — but some analysts say the actual number is much higher.
Crimes against women have touched some of the country’s wealthy and powerful. Abril Pérez Sagaón, the wife of Amazon’s former top executive in Mexico, was shot to death in November, weeks after accusing her husband of domestic abuse. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In other cases, the public servants who were meant to protect women have been implicated. In at least two cases last year, Mexico City police officers were accused of raping young women — once in a patrol car and once in a museum.
Sheinbaum, the first female mayor of Mexico City, accompanied Fátima’s mother to file charges Monday.
Gabriela Martínez contributed to this article.