8:54 AM PDT, April 26, 2022
The discovery of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old woman from Mexico whose body was found in a water tank two weeks after she had gone missing, has led to hundreds of women marching through Mexico City.
Escobar, a law student, was last seen alive on April 8, with a public outcry against the police leading to her discovery.
According to CBS, Escobar’s case made headlines because of a photo taken by a driver from a taxi app who was supposed to take her home that night, allegedly to prove that she had exited his car alive.
The photo showed the young woman standing alone at night on the side of a highway near the city of Monterrey, wearing a skirt and high-top sneakers, according to the outlet.
While it was not clear why she got out of the car, her father, Mario Escobar, said prosecutors told him that surveillance camera footage suggested the driver inappropriately touched his daughter, according to CBS.
“I suppose that my daughter did not put up with the harassment,” the father said to the outlet.
Ultimately, it was workers from a motel near where she had last been seen who had a large hand in locating the woman’s body — they reported a smell coming from a water tank near the motel, according to the outlet.
Investigators responded to the call, discovering a body and pulling it from the 12-foot-deep water tank before identifying it as Escobar.
Assistant Public Safety Secretary Ricardo Mejia said Friday that Escobar’s body was unrecognizable after the time it had spent in water, but her crucifix necklace and clothing lined up with what she had been wearing when she disappeared, according to CBS.
Authorities considered their search for her as massive — saying that 200 personnel used drones, search dogs and reviews of security camera footage, according to the outlet.
However, Escobar’s father said investigators had actually searched the motel several times but had not found her, adding activist claims that authorities have been slow and ineffective when it comes to the cases of missing people.
The driver of the taxi— whose name has not been released — has been questioned. Escobar’s father said while the driver may not have killed her, he was responsible for his daughter’s death, according to CBS.
The number of missing people in Mexico has surpassed 100,000, and according to CBS, killings of women have increased in recent years in Mexico, rising from 977 in 2020 to 1,015 in 2021.
These particular cases were “feminicides,” — a legal term used in Mexico when women are killed because of their gender — whereas the murders of women overall are much higher at an estimated 24,000.
Officials say that cases of missing women in Mexico are also high, with about 1,600 reported missing so far this year, and 829 of them still listed as missing. Sixteen were found dead, according to CBS.
Because of these shocking numbers and community frustration with how authorities have responded, the residents have taken to the streets, with hundreds of women marching through Mexico City and the nearby suburb Nezahualcoyotl, where two women were killed last week.
According to CBS, the peaceful protestors chanted “Justice, justice!” and carried signs reading “No to Harassment,” “Mexico is a mass grave,” and a banner that said, “24,000 are missing.”
Participants also taped small ‘missing’ posters on the Angel in Mexico City — a tall, monumental stone shaft commemorating the country’s independence — with each one describing the disappearance of a woman, including Escobar, according to the outlet.
Reuters reported that on Tuesday, Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Garcia said he would increase funding and resources to help combat gender violence.
“We are working very hard to address the causes of this problem and I will be very clear: to the rapists, and those who commit feminicide, and all those who hurt the women of Nuevo Leon, know that we will find them and punish them to the fullest extent of the law,” Garcia said in a Facebook post.