As part of She’s Right’s participation in 16 days of activism to end violence against women, each article will be dedicated to a New Zealand woman who has lost her life due to gender-based violence. This article is dedicated to Dimetrius Pairama, killed on 8 July 2018, at the age of 17.
By Zyanya Camargo Díaz, Mexico.
Translated from French by Jessica Sutton.
On November 25th 2019, the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, a feminist activist group called Lastesis presented a performance outside the Supreme Court in Chile, entitled “El violador eres tú” – “the rapist, is you“. The whole group sang and moved in unison, performing a series of statements which underlined the combined culpability of men, the state, the criminal justice system, and the people who disbelieve or conceal cases of rapes in Latin America. Each time that I watch one of these videos of a Lastesis performance (which have spread around the world), I get goosebumps, and my eyes start to fill with tears. There are three lines in particular which won’t leave my head:
Y la culpa no era mía
Ni dónde estaba
Ni cómo vestía
And it wasn’t my fault, not where I was, not what I was wearing.
All of us should learn these three lines by heart, like a mantra. No, the victim will never be at fault. No, it doesn’t matter if a rape or a femicide happened at midday, at 5pm, or at 3am. No, I don’t give a damn if the rape or femicide happened in an apartment, in a park, in a dark alley. It simply shouldn’t have happened.
The reason that the Lastesis performances have touched me so deeply, is because they make me think of Lesvy, a young woman that I never knew, and yet I miss.
I miss Lesvy every single day.
It was May 2nd 2017 in Mexico City, my home city. Lesvy was 22 years old. She was getting ready to go to University. She wanted to study French language and literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Me, I study French language and literature at UNAM at the moment. It’s the most “respectable” and prestigious University in Latin America, most studies say.
That day, everything seems normal, even pleasant. Lesvy is walking with her little dog, and three boys are by her side. Among them, we find Jorge Luis González Hernández. Her boyfriend. Her murderer. They visit Ciudad Universitaria, the principal campus of UNAM. The place is beautiful, enormous, full of history, considered World Heritage. I call it a cemetery. Cemeteries can be beautiful too, can’t they? People walk in cemeteries and admire what they see. My University is a beautiful cemetery.
Lesvy is walking on May 3rd 2017 at Ciudad Universitaria, only with her boyfriend now, and it is 4.01 in the morning. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “What were they doing there at that time?”
Yes, it’s strange, I know. But that cannot justify what happened to Lesvy.
At 4.01 am, the security camera registers movement, violence. Lesvy tries to kiss her boyfriend, but then he hits out at her, and she’s falling. At 4.18am, the recording cuts out, why? We will never know. At 4.34am, where is Lesvy? We can see her dog, but where is she?
We can see Jorge Luis. Why are you walking like that, Jorge Luis, why are you staggering? Why did you push Lesvy if she wanted to kiss you? Why are you leaving her all alone? It’s dangerous. Go and find her. Go and find her, please.
It is May 3rd 2017 and Lesvy is dead at Ciudad Universitaria. She is dead, and Jorge Luis is walking down the road. He is alive and Lesvy is dead. Lesvy is lying dead by a telephone box with the cord of the phone wrapped around her neck, and the authorities say it is a suicide. Her mother Araceli screams, her friends scream, the University community screams: Lesvy didn’t kill herself, Lesvy was murdered.
The authorities eventually apologise for saying it was a suicide, and change the discourse. Now, it was manslaughter. A killing by negligence. Lesvy’s body was found in a public place, with clear signs of violence. I don’t know much about the legal terminology, but in my opinion, that’s a femicide.
And I wasn’t wrong, Araceli wasn’t wrong. What happened to Lesvy was a femicide. The Police, the State, apologized again, and announced publicly that Lesvy’s case would proceed in the justice system as a femicide. Araceli cries, she sobs in front of the Palace of “Justice”. I’m sorry Araceli, I apologise too, because I live in a country like this one.
2017, 2018, now 2019. The murderer is finally in front of the Court, after two years, and the femicides of approximately 3,000 other women. October 11th 2019 – the murderer is imprisoned. He has to pay compensation of 425,407 pesos, or 33,439.18 New Zealand Dollars. How do the courts calculate how much Lesvy’s life was worth? 2064 and Jorge Luis will be let out of prison. I dream that he will never get out.
2 years have passed. Perhaps Araceli can sleep better at night. 2 years have passed, but where is Lesvy’s voice in my French literature classes? This is why I miss her. Lesvy was a life that never got lived. Lesvy was a possibility. Lesvy, we weep for you. Lesvy, each blow that hit you, we feel it.
Lesvy, never forget: it wasn’t your fault, not where you were, not what you were wearing.
About the Author:
Zyanya Camargo Díaz is a language and modern french and francophone literature student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She was selected as the representative of Mexico at the 2019 LabCitoyen conference in Paris on “Women’s Rights: Equality and Citizenship”, where she spoke about global problems of violence against women. She has participated in several conferences on the political, cultural and social role of literature. She helps organise the Coloquio de Letras Modernas: de estudiantes para estudiantes (Conference of Modern Letters: by students, for students) – this year this conference was dedicated to literature by women and non binary people. Currently, Zyanya works as a English to Spanish translator, and as a French teacher.
Picture by CrisCastilloVel , no changes made.