Maria Belen Bernal, 34, Lawyer found murdered in Ecuador, husband disappears: Reports
A 34-year-old lawyer who had been missing for ten days has been found dead, according to the Ecuadorian government, making this the most recent femicide in a country where such murders are frequent.
On September 11, Maria Belen Bernal disappeared while visiting her husband at the Quito police academy. Patricio Carrillo, the interior minister, tweeted about finding her body. A hill roughly five kilometres (3.1 miles) from the police academy was where her body was found.
“I deeply regret her death, a femicide that will not go unpunished,” Carrillo said.
Additionally on Twitter, President Guillermo Lasso stated that “all those involved will be subject to the law” for Belen’s “femicide.”
Her family claims that Bernal went to the police college to visit her husband, Lieutenant German Caceres, who was working there. And suddenly she was gone.
Then, two days after she went missing, Caceres disappeared as well, sparking a manhunt and resulting in his dismissal from his job.
The death of Bernal was the most recent instance of femicide in a country where violence against women is widespread. 206 occurrences of femicide were reported in Ecuador between January 1 and September 3, according to the Aldea Foundation, which keeps track of crime in Ecuador. The final straw has been Bernal’s case, in which the police are directly implicated, which has prompted enormous resentment against the government.
On September 21, hundreds of locals gathered in Quito outside the Agricultural Ministry to participate in a sit-in that Bernal’s mother had planned. After holding a few hours of protests there, they marched to the Police Headquarters to call for Bernal’s justice and Cáceres’ conviction.
Murderers, murderers, murderers, “Police kill, Femicidal State,” “Get out Carrillo, get out,” “Justice for Belén,” “The police don’t take care of me, my friends take care of me,” and “I knew it, I knew that femiciders are taken care of by the Police,” among other slogans, were raised by the protesters. Following that, the protesters held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Police Headquarters that lasted well into the night.
In a news conference held at the university, Bernal’s mother, Elizabeth Otavalo, called her daughter’s femicide “a state crime.” Twelve days later, she claimed, her daughter’s body was discovered “just beside the Police School, which she had entered on September 11.”
The victim is my daughter. It is a state offence because she passed away within the Police High School, according to Otavalo.
The killing of Otavalo’s daughter “cannot go unpunished,” she continued, adding that the day signalled “the start of a new struggle.”
She proclaimed, “My daughter is [symbolically] going to fight for each and every woman.”