Javier Fernández’s 17-year-old daughter Daphne was kidnapped outside a club and raped by some of her former schoolmates in 2015. Mr. Fernandez said that for months after he learned about what happened to his daughter he refused to go to the police. Not because he didn’t want justice; in fact, justice was all the single father wanted for his youngest child, according to the Washington Post.
“I wanted to kill them all.”
But Daphne’s father knew that he couldn’t rely on the police in Veracruz, Mexico, to punish the guilty. He believed the police would humiliate his daughter and endlessly delay her case.
“The last thing the system of justice provides is justice. I just didn’t trust the authorities. I knew they would fail us.”
— Tanya Pretorius (@fetsiboomsticks) March 31, 2017
Instead, Mr. Fernandez decided to meet with the men, which included the three alleged perpetrators, the driver of the vehicle, and their well-to-do parents. During those taped meetings he demanded apologies on behalf of his daughter, and the young men complied.
“I regret what happened,” one said, his words captured on video. “I did great harm.”
“I don’t doubt it happened and we made a mistake,” another said. “We were wrong.”
It was Mr Fernandez’s hope that these apologies would help his daughter move on from the trauma, but in fact, things got worse. Stories of his daughter’s “promiscuity” started on social media and spread like wildfire. For Daphne, those days were simply a “kick in the stomach.”
“If I’ve gone out drinking, if I have worn short skirts like the great majority of girls my age, that’s why they’re going to judge me? For that reason, I deserved it?”
Realizing that things were now out of control, Mr. Fernandez and Daphne filed a police report against some of the city’s wealthiest families. And as he had expected, their case lay idle for months; that is until Mr Fernandez took matters into his own hands and released the men’s taped confession to the news media. Of course this sparked national outrage, and arrest warrants were finally issued.
A couple of months ago, 21-year-old Diego Cruz was extradited to Mexico from Spain, where he had fled after the alleged assault, and so the first trial began. In their statement, the four accused rapists deny they admitted to the rape and say Daphne voluntarily got into the Mercedes because “she wanted the party to go on.”
— Rich Dayman (@CrossfitRich) March 29, 2017
There was a point when Daphne believed that she might finally get something that looked like justice, but sadly her father was right. The judge found that Cruz had touched the victim’s breast and penetrated her with his fingers, but that did not make Cruz guilty of assault because he acted without “carnal intent.”
He also found that Daphne was never “helpless” even though she was forced into the car. And so, Cruz was declared innocent. Two others accused in Daphne’s rape case are awaiting trial, while the fourth was not indicted.
Daphne tried picking up the pieces of her life and went back to university, but she was thwarted by severe anxiety attacks. She eventually withdrew from university and returned home, then moved to live with her sister in Europe.
“I just want this to end,” she wrote on Facebook.
The story of Daphne’s rape and the judge’s decision has caused much unrest in Mexico, and perhaps that’s because this story is very familiar. A whopping eight out of 10 people living in Veracruz say they live in fear, and that’s because the Zeta drug cartel has a near-monopoly over the state.
It appears there’s very little difference between the rich and the government, and the government and the criminals. Fifteen journalists have been killed since 2011, and hundreds of people have simply disappeared. Father Alejandro Solalinde is a human rights advocate and he called the city “a factory of forced disappearances.”
It is therefore not surprising that very few people trust the justice system and that very few report an attack. According to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, only one in 10 attacks were reported to local authorities in 2014.
And according to the National Institute for women in Mexico, 80 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. Perhaps this is because a mere 4.5 percent of criminals in Mexico face sentencing. Many victims say they didn’t report a crime because they didn’t want to waste their time!
It seems that women in Mexico are the most vulnerable and the hardest hit, and are being abducted, raped, and killed in record numbers. Women become “territory” to be conquered in conflict zones, and rape is just one tool used to intimidate the local population and rival gangs. The number of women killed in the biggest drug battlegrounds of Mexico jumped 500 per cent between the years 2001 and 2010, and thousands of others have simply disappeared.
Ana Güezmez is the country’s representative to the United Nations Women.
“Violence against women isn’t an epidemic, it’s a pandemic in Mexico.”
The Telegraph reported on the “outrage” in Mexico because a Mexican man was cleared of the sexual assault of a schoolgirl because “he didn’t enjoy it.”
The alleged attackers, Diego Cruz, Enrique Capitaine Marin, and Jorge Coahuila are all sons of wealthy businessmen from southern Veracruz. Judge Anuar González gave his public ruling last Monday and found Cruz not guilty of sexual assault, saying that the assault was committed without carnal intent. And even though he knew the victim had been forced into the car belonging to one of her alleged attackers, the judge ruled that she was “never helpless.”
Estefanía Vela Barba is an activist on gender issues and a law professor in the legal studies department at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.
“He sexually touched her, he vaginally penetrated her, but because he didn’t enjoy it, it’s not sexual abuse? Since there was no pleasure in the act, it was intended to cause humiliation. They were touching her, they were bothering her, so for the judge, if the intention wasn’t pleasure, it’s not sexual assault. There’s no disputing the facts. It’s not some crazy woman saying this, it’s coming from the judge’s mouth and he’s saying that if they vaginally penetrate you against your will, it might not be abuse.”
The rape case has prompted demonstrations in support of both the alleged victim and the young men on the streets of Veracruz. One of the young men is a son of a former local mayor.
— LiesOfThePatriarchy (@LiesOfTheP) March 30, 2017
The Los Angeles Times has reported that Judge Anuar Gonzalez Hemadi’s ruling last Monday has been widely criticized in Mexico. In fact, this case, and its outcome, has sparked outrage across Mexico.
It’s being cited as a symbol of the failure of justice in sexual assault cases, and the impunity of the powerful elite in Mexico.
The rape victim was a 17-year-old senior at an exclusive Catholic high school, and had attended a party with some of her classmates. As she was preparing to leave she was forced into a black Mercedes by Diego Cruz and three of his friends: all are sons of politicians or wealthy businessmen. The victim claims she was assaulted by Cruz and Jorge Coahuila whilst in the car, and that she was later raped by Enrique Capitaine Marin at his home.
It’s believed that authorities only acted this time because pressure was put on them by extensive media coverage and the marching of feminist activists who demanded justice.
Not surprisingly, the victim’s father reacted angrily to Cruz’s acquittal, saying that the judge has set a dangerous precedent by ruling that no crime was committed when Cruz abused his daughter.
“Imagine, any adult can touch any person, of whatever age, and go free by saying it was not lascivious, and that there was no intent to have sex.”
[Featured Image by ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock]