When I first read about the death of María Coni, 22 and Marina Menegazzo, 21, my heart sank. It was that thick, heavy, lump-in-your-throat feeling.
On February 22nd the two girls contacted a friend for help after running out of money while travelling through Montañita, a coastal area in Ecuador.
On February 27th their bodies were found in the same area, dumped in plastics bags on a beach.
Two suspects have since been arrested and later confessed to the murders.
When reading news such as this it is hard not to put yourself in that position. I myself am a 20 year-old woman who has spent enough time overseas to see that a situation such as this is about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This could have been anyone.
However, the media attention which ensued has instead seen the finger of blame to be shifted back and forth. The question as to why these women were ‘travelling alone’ was raised online in the days which followed, with many victim blaming: an all too common pattern when it comes to violent acts involving women.
Why the fault should lay with anyone other than the two men who murdered Coni and Menegazzo is unclear to me.
The simple fact is that these women weren’t travelling alone. They were travelling together. And even if they had been travelling on their own, they would not have been in any way deserving of their murder.
But it was the poem written by Guadalupe Acosta, in reaction to the victim blaming, which set the record straight. The Paraguayan student used Facebook to write from the perspective of Coni and Menegazzo,
Yesterday I was killed … But worse than death, was the humiliation that followed. From the time they had my dead body nobody asked where the [person] that ended my dreams, my hopes and my life was.
No, rather than that they started asking me useless questions. To me, can you imagine? A dead girl, who cannot speak, who cannot defend herself.
What clothes did you wear?
Why were you alone?
Why would a woman travel alone?
You got into a dangerous neighbourhood, what did you expect?
They questioned my parents for giving me wings, let me be independent, like any human being. They told them we were on drugs and we surely asked for it. They told them they should have looked after us.
The Spanish phrase #viajosola (I travel alone) became ‘trending’ on Twitter soon after with many women sharing their support.
— Rebecca Stewart (@GallopingSkirt) March 13, 2016
— Bouksy (@Bouksy84) March 11, 2016
— Leila (@leila_myway) March 12, 2016
You can read Acosta’s full post on Facebook.
Featured image – Kakapu Travel