La Jornada: Ecuador: femicide pandemic

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gar Escobar, prosecutor Ecuadorian who worked in a unit to investigate femicides and hate crimes, was shot to death yesterday in front of the building where he worked, in Guayaquil.

The homicide is added to those that were perpetrated in similar circumstances against a judge in Lago Agrio, in the northeast of the country, and a prosecutor in the fishing port of Manta, in the southwest.

But beyond the context of the attacks directed at members of the judicial system –and whose purpose is to ensure the impunity of criminals or avenge legal sanctions–, Escobar’s death has as a backdrop the unstoppable increase in femicides in the Andean nation: Only so far this year, 206 women have been murdered in cases classified as femicides, according to figures from the Fundación Aldea.

To this chilling number must be added the disappearances – the most recent of them, of the lawyer María Belén Bernal, who was last seen in a police station in Quito when she went to visit her husband, Lieutenant Germán Cáceres, who is fugitive– and serious acts of gender-based violence.

Ecuador also registers a sustained increase in intentional homicides –which last year reached a rate of 14 murders per 100,000 inhabitants– and prison riots, many of them associated with illicit drug trafficking.

It is impossible not to see the relationship between this alarming circumstance and the 180-degree turn imposed on government social policies since former President Lenín Moreno came to office, abandoning the programs and actions to reduce poverty and marginalization adopted by his predecessor. , Rafael Correa, and again yoked the country to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund.

The current president, Guillermo Lasso, has persisted in returning to a neoliberal model that already 15 years ago showed clear signs of exhaustion and is currently clearly unfeasible, as it translates into an acceleration of social decomposition, the denial of rights and the impoverishment of the majority sectors of the population.

It is clear that the wave of femicides cannot be explained solely by the aforementioned context, since it has additional components: ancestral machismo and misogyny and, above all, impunity, in which corruption and the patriarchal pact converge.

Therefore, attacking this desperate criminal phenomenon requires a political will that combines firm actions in all areas: legislative, judicial, economic, social and cultural.

It is to be hoped that the murders of women and of those who would have to clarify and punish them will lead the Ecuadorian government to take such action as soon as possible.