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May 6, 17

Mexico: After Campus Femicide, Thousands March on UNAM

On the night of Wednesday May 3, Lesvy Berlín Rivera Osorio was strangled to death with a telephone cord on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. Her body was discovered hanging from the cord of a telephone booth near the Engineering Department by campus security at around 7 a.m.

The Twitter account of Mexico City’s Public Prosecutor’s Office (PGJDF) – the authorities that will be investigating her murder – did not tweet out any solid evidence or possible motives for the murder. However, they did put out tweets suggesting her lifestyle was the cause of her own death, implying that her romantic relationships, alleged drinking, and her decision to live with her boyfriend, all made her a person with questionable morals. Hours later, Mexico City’s Attorney General, Rodolfo Ríos, issued an apology and stated that those tweets were not “appropriate” and “contrary to the protocols and principles of the PGJDF.”

Given this response from the state in a country where seven women a day are murdered on average, women rapidly responded with a viral social media campaign using the hashtag #SiMeMatan, “if they kill me”, describing how they would be criminalized if they were murdered.

“I’m a Colombian in Mexico, with enough sequins and animal print in my closet for the Attorney General to say it was because I’m a whore.”

“If they kill me, I hope the police (and media) focus on my murder and not on my clothes, my studies, my job or who I sleep with.”

“Know what’s worst about the #SiMeMatan hashtag? Behind every tweet is a woman terrorized because she knows they can kill her.”

On Friday, May 5, thousands marched through UNAM in honor of Lesvy and all victims of machista violence, condemning the ongoing femicides occurring with impunity in Mexico.

Lesvy’s mother, Aracely Osorio, was present at the march on Friday and spoke briefly about her daughter, the way her case has been publicly handled, and also the fact that attorneys had told her that her daughter committed suicide and it was not an act of murder:

“My daughter, like any young person, had the right to decide, and I would like it if this was pointed out, like any young person has the right to decide, over their life and over their activities. She decided to live independently from us, with her boyfriend. I was going to see her for coffee, I was going to go to her house…when I got this news. And far from feeling sad, I felt indignant, because there have been many cases and I’ve seen that their investigations are used to create a smokescreen, saying that my daughter had done it to herself and taken her own life.”

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Scott Campbell is the author of the "Insumisión," which was a featured column on It's Going Down and currently writes news and analysis on social movements and struggles, with an eye towards Mexico.

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