'Yesterday I was killed but worse was the humiliation which came after'

  • 9 March 2016
Picture of murdered women Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Even though María Coni and Marina Menegazzo were murdered together, some questioned why they were "travelling alone".

A Facebook post written from the perspective of two murdered South American female backpackers has gone viral as part of a backlash against alleged victim blaming.

The post was written by Paraguayan student Guadalupe Acosta in response to some of the reaction to the killing of two young Argentine women in Ecuador. Following the murders, some people online appeared to question whether the backpackers had, by their actions, brought the crime upon themselves.

The post has been shared more than 700,000 times since it was posted on Facebook. In it, Acosta imagines events from the perspective of the victims, María Coni, 22, and Marina Menegazzo, 21.

"Yesterday I was killed … but worse than death was the humiliation which came after," it begins.

According to the police account of the murders, the two Argentine tourists had run out of money in Ecuador when they met a pair of men who offered them a place to stay. But before the next morning, police say, José María Coni, 22, and Marina Menegazzo, 21, were dead - allegedly murdered by the men they thought were doing them a favour. The bodies were stuffed into plastic bags. Two men have reportedly confessed to the crime.

It might have been a brutal, but sadly all too common crime story. But the story fuelled a larger discussion in the days after the killings, after some of the people commenting online questioned why the women were "travelling alone"

That phrase in Spanish - #viajosola - was soon trending on Twitter, with around 5,000 mentions in the past few weeks. Many pointed out that the women of course weren't travelling alone - they were together at the time - and defended not the victims but the idea of solo female travel.

"The first time I travelled alone was when I was 16, I've done so many times since, even after I got married. And I will not stop doing #viajosola," one woman commented. Another tweeted: "I want to do travel alone without the fear I'll be punished for it."

As reported by BBC Mundo (in Spanish), a prominent Argentine psychiatrist questioned why the women "took a risk". Although he later clarified he didn't mean to blame anyone but the alleged perpetrators for the murders, he was caught up in the backlash.

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Acosta told BBC Trending she was moved to write her poem post reading online comments which seemed to blame the victims.

"These kinds of comments are often heard in Latin American countries when the murder of a woman happens."

In her poem one of the victims rails against the "useless questions" that are asked of female victims. "What clothes were you wearing? Why were you alone? Why would a woman travel without a companion? You went into a dangerous neighbourhood, what did you expect?"

Acosta said she was surprised by how widely her post, which ends with a feminist rallying cry, was shared.

"There are hundreds of laws under which (women) are treated as equals. But while that's the law, the real world is something else," she says. "We must all start practicing more empathy, put ourselves in the heads of others and try to understand. Only this way will we achieve real change."

Blog by Mike Wendling

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