The case of an 18-year-old Venezuelan girl who denounces having been drugged and raped when going for a job offer to a store in the commercial center of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has generated an outbreak of indignation.
“My daughter is not protected”Thais, the victim’s mother, said through tears, in one of the protests held on Thursday, the Telam Agency said.
The woman summed up the core of the claim in those words: the main suspect, Irineo Humberto Garzón Martínez, is free. He was arrested at the crime scene, but a Buenos Aires judge released him three days later.
The case has also exposed, once again, the serious risks to which millions of women who have been forced to emigrate from Venezuela are exposed. Thais and her daughter arrived in the country a year and a half ago.
The young woman went to the premises on Saturday, January 23, in the Balvanera neighborhood, after contacting the merchant about a notice of a job offer on Facebook. After the interview, he stayed working for a few hours and he offered him something to drink repeatedly, according to his complaint. Finally, he accepted a glass of water. Minutes later, he felt that something was not right. He managed to text his mom before he vanished: “I’m scared”.
Thais was the one who notified the police. They found the young woman lying on a ladder in the bottom of the business under the effect of psychotropics, the mother said. They took her out in a wheelchair, and the image that shocked the country. “She is no longer the same, she is very bad, destroyed”Thais said in an interview with the Argentine channel TN Noticias.
In social networks, the publications multiplied with the passing of the days and ‘#GarzonViolador‘was positioned as the most talked about topic in Argentina. It was an expansive wave that crossed borders: Demonstrators gathered in Buenos Aires on Thursday to demand justice and they also did so this Friday in Caracas.
“Society is showing signs of change, that it needs a profound reform within the criminal justice system“Sabrina Cartabia, a lawyer from Buenos Aires, a specialist in law and gender issues, said in an interview with Noticias Telemundo. In his experience, even when victims manage to report sexual abuse or violence and are heard, the judiciary “is far in many cases from being able to meet the needs of the victims.”
When the police arrived at the store after the mother’s call, they had to break in. There they found Garzón Martínez. He was arrested and accused of “sexual abuse with aggravated carnal access”, but the magistrate in charge of Criminal and Correctional Court No. 15 established that he continue the process in freedom for not having a criminal record.
The prosecutor in charge of the case, Silvana Russi, appealed the release on the grounds that there is a “danger of escape” and “obstruction of the investigation.” The lawyer for the young Venezuelan and her family, Pablo Baqué, has also requested the arrest. “Due to the seriousness of the case and why there may be other victims who have not yet dared to report it“he said in an interview on radio La Red.
— Gabriel Bastidas (@Gbastidas) January 28, 2021
The name of the judge, Karina Zucconi, occupies the posters of hundreds who march in the streets, in front of that same store in busy Once, which has been covered with badges and complaints; and in front of the judicial courts, where groups of migrants have sung the anthem of Venezuela. A request for the judge’s resignation posted online already has more than 181,000 signatures collected.
The young Venezuelan contacted the merchant first through Facebook and then through the WhatsApp application to share her resume before a job advertisement. Thais says that he invited her to dinner on Friday, January 22, to talk about work, but she refused and then they arranged to meet for an interview on Saturday morning. This made him suspicious and he asked his daughter for the merchant’s name and address.
Thais believes that protection instinct saved her daughter’s life.
“I think that the trust between mother and daughter was vital, it is something that must always remainAnd in this case, if she had not had the confidence or the desire to tell her mother things, the scenario could have been different, “he said in an interview with the Argentine newspaper La Nación.
Immigrants denounce that false job interviews are a modus operandi usual for those who take advantage of the need for employment of a community already in a vulnerable condition. In Argentina, migrant households suffer a poverty rate of about 26%, according to a recent UN report.
Dozens of Venezuelans and Colombians have joined the protests, but also young Argentines and movements in favor of women’s rights.
“Yesterday it was her, today it can be you or any girl, of any nationality” said one of the many women who walked Thursday in the protests, according to reported journalist María Laura Chang via Twitter.
— María Laura Chang (@Marilachang) January 28, 2021
In those same streets of the Federal Capital, just weeks ago, a multitude of green scarves celebrated the legalization of abortion. Right there, thousands began in 2015 the “Not one less” movement to banish gender violence, which was later replicated in Latin America. Cartabia was among them.
“In recent times, with the advancement of the feminist and women’s movement, with the public conversations that have arisen from resounding cases of sexual violence, there have been more demonstrations for Justice works with a gender perspective”Explained Cartabia. There have been changes, “but there is still a lot to work on,” he concluded.