Violence Against Women in Mexico – The Femicide of Ingrid Escamilla

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4th April 2020  •  4 min read

On 11 February, 2020, the horrific news about the femicide of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla shocked the Mexican nation, not only because of the gruesome details of the case that were soon spread across the country, but because terrifying images of the victim’s body and the crime scene were published by two tabloids.

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Cristina Massieu is a visual artist, DJ and freelance writer from Mexico City who grew up in the 90s. She has been fascinated with true crime, bizarre mysteries and the occult from an early age and enjoys spending time with her three cats.

Of all the Latin American countries, Mexico has one of the highest rates of femicides, with an alarming average of ten per day. This serious problem is present in the everyday lives of Mexican women, who often declare their fear of being victims of harassment, violence, rape, and murder. The majority of femicides in Mexico are perpetrated by the victim’s romantic partner, and both the inefficiency of authorities and the misogyny that prevails in Mexican society are decisive factors of present-day reality for Mexican women.

On the morning of February 11th, 2020, the horrific news about the femicide of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla shocked the Mexican nation, not only because of the gruesome details of the case that were soon spread across the country, but because terrifying images of the victim’s body and the crime scene were published by two tabloid papers. These photographs were subsequently shared across social media, where a lot of insensitive memes were produced and quickly shared. How did these opportunistic newspapers get access to the confidential photographs of an ongoing case? It was obvious that forensic examiners and the authorities were involved.

An enormous wave of public indignation quickly rose and the perpetrator of the crime was captured within a few hours. It was none other than 46-year-old civil engineer Erick Francisco Robledo Rosas. His ex-wife called the police after he contacted her and confessed that he had killed Ingrid. Ingrid and Erick lived together in the north of Mexico City and had been a couple for five years despite the 20 year age gap between them.

Ingrid was open about his abusive behavior and people close to them described their relationship as conflictive and tumultuous. In fact, his ex-wife had previously filed a complaint for domestic abuse that went without consequence. According to written accounts, the couple engaged in a physical fight during a heated discussion and Erick used a kitchen knife to stab Ingrid several times in the neck area, which ultimately caused her death. He then proceeded to completely remove her skin and mutilate the body, also removing some of her organs, which he attempted to dispose of by flushing them down the toilet.

It was also reported that Erick’s son from his previous relationship, a teenager suffering from autism spectrum disorder, had witnessed the crime. After failed attempts at destroying the evidence, he dumped the remaining body parts on the street inside a green bag. When he telephoned his ex-wife, he was mumbling and soon admitted to having committed the atrocity. Finally, the police arrested him, shirtless, covered in blood, and muttering about who he was and what he had done. Many noted that he was visibly intoxicated. A video of him in the backseat of the patrol car was also leaked and his identity uncovered.

Despite the extremely brutal nature of the femicide, people on social media kept sharing the pictures and making disgusting “jokes.” In response to this, users flooded the hashtag #IngridEscamilla with beautiful images, such as artistic portraits of her and photographs of natural landscapes and sunsets, attempting to dignify the victim’s memory.

A woman holding a banner emblazoned with Ingrid Escamilla’s face during a protest against feticide in Mexico City, 14 February, 2020. Credit: Ginnette Riquelme / Associated Press.

Outrage spread like wildfire and the government was thoroughly questioned regarding the handling of the case, its brutality, the consequences of the illegal leaking of the images and the whereabouts of the murderer. Several feminist organizations called for protests, installed a memorial outside Ingrid’s house, and burned a vehicle belonging to La Prensa, one of the papers that published the crime scene photos. Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City’s mayor, declared that those responsible for leaking the images would be sanctioned and six public servants were already under investigation.

Nonetheless, the anger remained and people demanded justice. In the midst of it all, the creation of a specific law to protect the confidentiality of explicit images of violence and crime was proposed, but has not yet been approved. Erick apparently tried to commit suicide while being held by the authorities at a rehabilitation centre, which was also criticized by all those who believed he should have received a life sentence immediately. As of today, news about him are scarce.

Ingrid was described by relatives and friends as a joyful, intelligent, and curious person. She was born in the Mexican state of Puebla and moved to Mexico City after finishing her master’s degree in Tourism Administration. She had her whole life ahead of her and was brutally murdered by a man who was supposed to love and care for her. She is buried in the cemetery of the Juan Galindo Municipality in Puebla. Hers and the thousands of other femicides are a crucial part of the spark that lit the figurative fire of current feminist protests in Mexico, and shall always be remembered painfully.

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