In Mexico, where thousands of women disappear each year, Depanhi’s death sparks rare outrage

An extraordinary fact in a country with nearly 100,000 missing persons in total: The week-long media interest in the student’s disappearance on the night of Friday, April 8 to Saturday, April 9 near Monterrey, the northern industrial capital.

After 12 days of searching, his body was found on Friday, April 21, at the bottom of a tank next to a roadside hotel bound for Nuevo Laredo, on the border with the United States.

Viral, his last photo – roadside, alone at night, in profile, slim figure and long hair, arms crossed, handbag draped over his shoulder, white blouse, beige maxi skirt, Converse shoes – became the emblem of the feminist protests.

“Debanhi, I gave you my vote,” shouted women in Mexico City last Sunday after Friday’s demonstrations in Monterrey.

Interest in its history has transcended state borders, from Peru to the United States. “A woman disappears in Mexico. One out of many thousands,” the New York Times summed it up in one on Thursday adding: “The case is rekindling anger at the inaction of the authorities.”

Even before his daughter’s body was discovered, father Mario Escobar played the media card to denounce the failure of the first stage of the search.

“This case is more visible than the others because the media decided it,” says Valeria Moscoso, an expert on psychological and social issues, who notes that the complaints of other victims’ families have not had the same resonance. This case, Ms. Moscoso adds, sums up all the flaws in justice in cases of women’s disappearance: “the lax authorities, the complicity of the victims, the criminalization of the victims, the criminalization of families and the impunity of the abusers.”

On Wednesday, in the presence of the father, the state attorney general of Nuevo Leon drew a sketch of the error during a conference by announcing the dismissal of two attorneys general for “mistakes” and “omissions”.

For example, search teams passed several times near the tank but discovered the body only 12 days later.

Ten feminicides a day

During the same press conference, the attorney general presented a video tape in an attempt to clarify the facts. At 4:29 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, Dipanhi was wandering alone on the side of the road, before entering the inn complex and bending over from the window of an abandoned restaurant, according to CCTV footage.

Previously, the young woman allegedly bought a bottle of alcohol in a convenience store with two girlfriends, and then left a party after an argument with her friends and other young men, according to witnesses and other images from surveillance cameras shown on television sets.

The young woman then boarded Didi’s car – an on-demand transfer service app – which she later got off of for an unknown reason, according to several testimonies.

In this case, which was spread in the media, the driver denied on television accusations that the father had made an inappropriate gesture towards Al-Dabanhi.

On the contrary, the driver claims that she wanted to call her friends and parents when she decided to get out of her white car, which is why he took the famous Depanhi photo on the side of the road and shared it.

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There are a lot of assumptions. “We can’t rule out anything,” prosecutor Gustavo Adolfo Guerrero said. The father, who initially spoke of the kidnapping and assassination, admitted: “We do not rule out any investigation leads.”

Ironically, it was this death, the result of an assassination or accidental fall, that sparked a rare outcry against female murders and disappearances. In Monterrey itself, the young mother, Yolanda Martinez, has been missing since March 31, according to the Mexican press.

322 women have disappeared in Nuevo Leon state since the beginning of the year alone. “90% of these disappearances happen within 72 hours,” the prosecutor downplayed.

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