Sunday, May 9

Femicides in Mexico: The doctor who allegedly abused Mariana Sánchez was arrested

The man who allegedly sexually abused Mariana Sánchez, the 25-year-old doctor who was found dead in the facilities of a Chiapas health center, has been arrested this Thursday, according to the State Attorney General’s Office. The Public Ministry has reported that the partner of the murdered young woman has been apprehended in the municipality of Ocosingo (in the middle of the Chiapas jungle) for an alleged crime of sexual harassment. The doctor had been in practice since August at that clinic and had reported her partner for sexual abuse two months before his death through an official letter to the director of the center. The alleged aggressor is the second detainee in the case after the director of the institution was captured on February 6 for abuse of authority: he learned of the complaint and allegedly did nothing to protect her.

The alleged aggressor has voluntarily turned himself in, according to a video recorded and broadcast on social networks. “I have come to surrender to end the violence against my family, the persecution in an unfair way, and we hope that this is resolved in the most favorable way in favor of a server,” he said before entering the courts. The man, who has identified himself as Fernando Cuauhtémoc Pérez Ximénez, worked at the same clinic as Sánchez in Nueva Palestina, an indigenous community in the municipality of Ocosingo. According to the doctor, one night in November, her partner, drunk, forced her room to abuse her.

The doctor testified before the Prosecutor’s Office in early February for the case of Sánchez, according to the file to which EL PAÍS had access. “I never spoke to her,” the testimony noted. The prosecutor at no time asked him what he was doing and where he was on the day that Sánchez died. Pérez Ximénez voluntarily presented a certificate that the next day he was doing some tests in a laboratory in the Chiapas capital. But the folder did not contain an alibi for the doctor at the exact moment of his death.

The investigation folder also includes a 2013 complaint against the same doctor. A fellow nurse of the doctor, when she worked in another health center in Chiapas, filed a lawsuit for sexual abuse. He had allegedly tried to abuse her on at least two occasions. The complaint was shelved a few years later.

Despite the complaint that Sánchez had filed with the person in charge of the clinic and the suspicions about his death, the authorities rejected investigating the case as a femicide and determined that it was a suicide. Only when the case escalated to the national public debate and the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, asked that the case be investigated with a gender perspective, as required by the protocol in the face of the violent death of a woman, did the folder come up with that hypothesis.

Sánchez had been working as a trainee doctor at the health center for five months and since she had been transferred to this town in August last year, she had told her mother about the hell she was living. In the investigation folder there is not a single indication that points to the possible feminicide of the young woman. The armed case so far demonstrated how the authorities did not prevent the rapid cremation of his body and held the victim responsible as the only culprit. Investigations are going blind these days, without a body and with a single forensic file that has not been able to be reviewed by another specialist and that could be key in the line of investigation of femicide, as required by the protocol.

“The Prosecutor’s Office continues to act opaquely. He did not execute the order, the man surrendered, otherwise he might not have been arrested. He wants to show effectiveness when it is not like that ”, says Carlos Hugo Tondopó, the family lawyer. The defender had asked the authorities for a week that the doctor be considered a suspect in Sánchez’s death.

In Chiapas, 70 women were murdered last year: 29 recognized as femicides and 41 as homicides, according to state figures. This state is not the most lethal in Mexico, at the head are Morelos, Colima and Nuevo León (until August 2020), according to the per capita rate. The high rates of impunity, with less than 10% of convictions in these crimes, have for years made sexist crimes in the country a matter of national security. In Mexico, an estimated 10 women are murdered a day.

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