A young girl, known only as Fátima, was last seen being picked up from school by an unidentified woman in Mexico City on February 11.
The next day, the 7-year-old girl was reported missing. She was later found dead, her body inside a plastic bag.
The news of the killing was shocking, and sparked a fresh outpouring of fury and political finger-pointing in Mexico, where a crisis over the brutal slayings of women and girls has forced residents to spill onto the streets in anger.
Fátima’s body was discovered in Tláhuac, a municipality in the south of Mexico City, over the weekend, according to Ulises Lara López, spokesman for the attorney general’s office in the city.
The girl was sexually abused and beaten before she died, Mexico City’s Attorney General Ernestina Godoy Ramos said at a news conference Tuesday.
The investigation is dominating headlines in the country, coming just days after another brutal killing, that of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, who was skinned and mutilated in Mexico City before her partner was arrested, having confessed to killing her following an argument where he said she attacked him with a knife.
According to Mexico Attorney General Alejandro Gertz, femicides – the killing of women on account of their gender – have increased 137% in the last five years. A total of 1,006 were reported in 2019, compared with 912 the year before.
But even that number illustrates only a portion of the problem: Every day, 10 women are killed in Mexico, according to authorities and activists who argue more cases need to be classified as femicides.
The rate of femicides was described on Monday as a “social ill” by the country’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador – but he, too, has been condemned for other comments regarding the killing of Fátima, which he appeared to blame on the neoliberal economic policies and society as a whole.
Meanwhile, the child’s relatives have blamed authorities for wasting the first precious hours after their daughter went missing.
‘Crime will not go unpunished’
Fátima was last seen in the company of a woman, who through video surveillance, was seen picking up the young girl from school, the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office told reporters on Monday.
Later that day, her mother went to the school to pick up her daughter but was unable to find her. She reported her missing the next day, after frantically searching for her to no avail.
A white vehicle spotted in the area has drawn the attention of investigators. Authorities have interviewed at least five witnesses and a property in the Xochimilco neighborhood has been searched.
Mexico City’s Attorney General’s Office has also urgently appealed to the public for help, offering a reward of 2 million pesos ($107,000) in return for any information, especially the woman seen on video surveillance and her whereabouts, according to Lara López during Monday’s press conference.
Officials have said the woman is key to the investigation, but have not said whether she is a suspect.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Godoy Ramos said the investigation and interrogations continue, allowing them to create a sketch of the woman in the video.