Wednesday, December 1

Vivien Withington, the face of impunity for raped women in Mexico

Vivien Withington, the young woman from Cozumel who reported to the media a case of alleged corruption by the judge who released her rapist in Quintana Roo (Mexico).
Vivien Withington, the young woman from Cozumel who reported to the media a case of alleged corruption by the judge who released her rapist in Quintana Roo (Mexico).RS FACEBOOK

When Vivien Withington discovered that the judge had released her alleged rapist, she decided not to become another victim without justice in Mexico. Armed with rage, she decided to transform her case into a public social complaint towards the legal system that discarded the forensic report of her internal injuries, her statement, the psychological report that determined the trauma and the images from the cameras of the hotel in Cozumel, Quintana Roo where the assault occurred. However, the judgment of the judge who released her alleged rapist because he had no external bruises prevailed over the accumulated evidence that she presented. Now, the suspect is out of the country, but Whitington, thanks to his campaign on social networks, has met more victims of the same man. Her case is a wake-up call for the country, where 90% of crimes go unpunished and women who have been raped reach a worrying 10,458 so far in 2021.

In Mexico it is estimated that 10.5 women are murdered every day. However, the rapes show more outrageous figures: 58 rapes nationwide every 24 hours in 2021, a considerable increase in pace led the previous year with 45 daily victims. By population rate, Quintana Roo is the State that accumulates the most rapes of women per inhabitant. There, in the touristy Playa del Carmen, the 29-year-old Mexican Vivien Whitington entered the statistics on April 1.

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It did not take her a day to denounce that Daniel Levitan – a 26-year-old tourist in Quintana Roo with Israeli nationality – who allegedly raped her at the Hotel Panama Jack Resort. On-site cameras show Whitington leaving a room in tears to ask for help at the reception, according to his lawyer, Cesar Ake. That same day he came home and told his family. A doctor friend of his ordered him not to shower and not to throw away clothes that still had odors. He encouraged her to report within 24 hours of the assault, an act that many victims are unable to do because of shame and trauma.

Whitington does not speak publicly about the assault, insisting that giving details of the incident re-victimizes her. “We all here know what it means when a woman is raped,” he insists. The statement that he gave before the Public Ministry one day after the crime is sufficient. There they also did a forensic test where an internal vaginal lesion with bleeding was determined. In addition, the psychological examination showed that she had sequelae compatible with the trauma of a rape victim. These two expert opinions carried out immediately after the attack, added to the images of the hotel’s security cameras and his statement, gave him a solid accusation. Established enough to arrest Levitan and hold him in preventive detention for nine days after the alleged assault.

The control judge of the case, Diego Emmanuel Peniche Caro, considered the evidence, but the defendant’s defense used a last resort: the technical opinion of a private doctor who concluded that since there were no external physical injuries – such as bruises or scratches – there was no violation regardless of internal injuries. On July 21, Levitan was released and Whitington waged a social struggle to demand justice and denounce the possible partiality of the judge. “He arbitrarily decided to release a foreign person who raped me and who tried to kill me, and who most likely at this time must be leaving our beautiful country. It is a situation where injustice and possible corruption are fully seen ”, he denounced in a statement.

Through a campaign on social networks, her face has become a symbol of the fight against impunity in sexual crimes against Mexican women. “I never wanted to expose myself, I never wanted to be the Cozumel rape,” says Whitington by phone. “I had no choice but to seek the media and support my loved ones to exert social pressure and reach justice. I don’t know when I’m going to get there, but that’s my ultimate goal. I do not want any woman to live the hell that I have lived, “he adds in a tone of outrage at” men who rape and get away with it. ” The support community that was formed on Twitter even got a photo taken from Levitan’s social networks, they have demonstrated in several cities in the country and even found more victims. “I know that he is a serial rapist, three more people have contacted me after seeing his photo and have described the same to me modus operandi”, Sentence. Unfortunately, fear and shame prevent them from reporting.

His lawyer was able to appeal the judge’s decision that released the suspect. The judicial disciplinary body, the Judicial Council, has suspended Judge Peniche Caro and they have launched an investigation to clarify what irregularity has been committed. However, the measure is late. Levitan has left Mexico and has become another fugitive from justice in Israel, as has already happened in the cases of Andrés Roemer or Tomás Zerón. The next step is to wait for him to decide to leave his country so that Interpol intercepts him at the border, something that keeps Ake hopeful. Meanwhile, Whitington continues her social media campaign locked in her home, threatened by the Cozumel Israeli community and afraid to go abroad. Still, he remains hopeful. “This case is not going to stay like this”, sentence.

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