Outrage after prosecutor blames a woman for her death

Women protest against male violence in Mexico
Image caption Women protest against male violence in Mexico

Thousands of women in Mexico have reacted with outrage on social media after the Office of the Public Prosecutor tweeted that the lifestyle of a young woman was to blame for her murder.

In the backlash women have been tweeting about how they would be accused of being responsible for their murders if the spotlight was turned on the way they lived their lives rather than the prosecutor putting the focus on the actions of the killer.

Lesby Berlin Osorio, 22, was strangled on Wednesday night with a telephone cord on the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) campus in Mexico City.

Rates of violence against women and femicide (the killing of women because of their gender) in Mexico are high - between 2013 and 2014 seven women were killed every day in Mexico and 44.9% of women reported that they had experienced violence in the home.

In the hours after Ms Osorio's body was found, the Office of the Public Prosecutor - which will be investigating her murder - turned the attention on Ms Osorio herself, targeting in particular her lifestyle and romantic affairs.

Tweets sent from the Public Prosecutor's account pinned the blame on the young woman's alleged drinking, low attendance record at university and her decision to live with her boyfriend -implying that Ms Osorio had questionable morals.

"She was an alcoholic and a bad student," stated one.

"She had left home and was living with her boyfriend" the tweets continued, followed by "she had been taking drugs with friends".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Tweets from the Public Prosecutor's office blaming Ms Osorio's lifestyle for her murder

Fury from women and men across Mexico swiftly followed.

Tweeting almost 50,000 times with hashtag #SiMeMatan, people speculated how their personal lives would be used against them if they were murdered.

'If they kill me, they will say I lived alone in Mexico City. They will say I was a feminist. They will invent everything to make me responsible for my murder. If they kill me I want them to shout loudly, like I will tomorrow for Lesby," wrote Julia Lazos, a student at the university where Ms Osorio was murdered.

"#SiMeMatan it will be for being a Mexican journalist. For going where I should not go. For describing massacres and corruption. For refusing to be silenced," said Laura Castellanos, a freelance reporter in Mexico, a country considered one of the most dangerous in the world for journalists.

"I hope the police (and media) focus on my killer, not on my clothes, studies, work and who I go to bed with," said Paula Villareal, a Mexican computer scientist, in one popular tweet.

Women also suspected they could be blamed for their murder for going outside alone, wearing a skirt, or using contraceptives.

"Do you know what's the worst thing about the hashtag #SiMeMatan? Behind every tweet is a woman terrified because she knows that they could kill her," pointed out blogger Ana Gonzalez.

"Pay attention to #SiMeMatan because if you are a woman and you are killed, before they investigate, they will find information to invalidate you as a human being," advised @seth_bingo.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Public Prosecutor of Mexico City Rodolfo Rios instructed that the tweets violated official policy.

The Public Prosecutor of Mexico City Rodolfo Rios responded saying that the tweets sent out by his office were 'inappropriate' and that he had instructed that they should be removed.

"The behaviour, private life or social status of a victim should never affect an investigation," he commented.

The original tweets have since been deleted but Mr Rios did not explain why they were sent or if any further action will be taken.

A protest on the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) campus, where Ms Osorio was murdered, is planned on Friday.

It is not the first time that legal officials have come under fire for blaming young women who have been the victims of violence.

In March Judge Lindsey Kushner QC in the UK was criticised for stating that women who get very drunk when they are out put themselves at greater risk of rape.

While in Canada a judge who asked a sexual assault complainant why she could not "keep your knees together" resigned after a Canadian Judicial Council review called for his removal.

By UGC and Social News team

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