The consequences of political shortcuts or why Marisel’s case, criminally, is not femicide

July 22, 2020

22 Jul, 2020

BY Mirta Moragas Mereles

Image credit.

This excerpt is from a post originally published here in Spanish. 

The case of Marisel, a 12-year-old indigenous girl raped and murdered in Itapúa horrifies us as a society and as feminists. Her cruel death led us to raise our voices and review the history of violence against girls and adolescents, particularly against indigenous girls and women. Conamuri (a Paraguayan CSO) in its statement raised the dimension of this cruelty, others joined with a tweetathon, and we all remained expectant for the trial of the case, to demand accountability and justice with respect to the loss of lives of indigenous girls, women and their communities.

In this context, a rejection arose among feminist sectors, regarding the charges filed in the case. The prosecutor’s office initially filed the case under “rape and murder”. Later, in a move perhaps motivated by punitive populism, the prosecutor’s office asked the court to modify to “femicide”. With this analysis, we seek to transform the rejection into a deeper debate, in order to grow and learn collectively as feminists.

Marisel’s death shows a network of systems of oppression: she is indigenous, she is a child, she is poor, at first sight she wouldn’t fit under the legal concept of “woman”. Intersectional feminism precisely seeks to be able to analyze how gender discrimination impacts in a differentiated way, for example, on girls like Marisel. And it allows us to think about these categories in order to demand justice.

To focus our demands on the particular legal charges of the case, is to divert attention from what really matters: justice for Marisel and addressing sexual violence and all kinds of violence against girls, and in particular, against indigenous girls. This is a privileged moment to review the protection schemes towards children, to raise this debate. Moreover, considering the intersectionality, we could look at the conditions of exclusion in which all indigenous girls and their communities live.

In the face of the oblivion and naturalization of the violence suffered by indigenous girls, the important thing is to achieve justice, whatever kind of crime it may be.