Lesby Berlin Osorio, 22, was strangled to death earlier this month with a telephone cord on the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) campus in Mexico City. After her body was found, the Office of the Public Prosecutor almost immediately took to Twitter to blame Osorio for her own murder.
In a series of tweets, the office focused on Osorio’s alleged drinking and low attendance record as well as her decision to live with her boyfriend. “She had left home and was living with her boyfriend,” one of the tweets read, followed by “she had been taking drugs with friends.”
The tweets sparked outrage from women and men across Mexico. Users tweeted almost 50,000 times with the hashtag #simemata—#iftheykillme—to demonstrate 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,” wrote Julia Lazos, a student at the university where Osorio was murdered. “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.”
“I hope the police (and media) focus on my killer,” tweeted Paula Villareal, a Mexican computer scientist, “not on my clothes, studies, work and who I go to bed with.”
Violence against women and femicide are all-too-common in Mexico. Seven women were killed each day between 2013 and 2014, and 44.9 percent of women in the nation have reported that they experience violence at home.
The Public Prosecutor of Mexico City, Rodolfo Rios, eventually responded to the tweets, calling them “inappropriate” and instructing his office to remove them. “The behavior, private life or social status of a victim should never affect an investigation,” he said. The original tweets have been deleted, but Rios did not explain why they were sent or if any further action will be taken against the person who did.
Unfortunately, this kind of response from law enforcement doesn’t come as a surprise. Judge Lindsey Kushner QC in the UK came under fire in March for stating that drunk women put themselves at greater risk of rape. That same month, a Canadian judge resigned amid outcry after he asked a sexual assault victim why she could not keep her “knees together.”
Meliss Arteaga is an editorial intern at Ms. She studied at California State University Northridge and has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minor in gender and women studies.