"To Martha: It's not your name, but I imagine you. I do not know you, but I hug you. I do not see you, but I feel your pain. You are strong and you will go forward, you will pass these dark pages and you will be a brave woman again," read one of the messages of solidarity that has been circulating on social media since Jan. 17, 2019, four days after the surfacing of a serious case of gang rape of a 35-year-old woman in Quito, Ecuador's capital was reported.
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"Martha," not the victim’s real name, went on Jan. 13 to celebrate her birthday at a restaurant in the north of the capital. Around 5:00 pm, the victim was found with blood, naked and sedated in the bathroom of that restaurant when the owner went in to open the doors.
Also three men with symptoms of intoxication were found at the restaurant, some of them with their shirts open, and with a mobile phone in which there were images and a video of the sexual assault, which are now being probed by the country’s Attorney General's Office, according to the victim’s lawyer Christian Arellano.
On January 18, #TodosSomosMartha (We Are All Martha) was the top trending topic in Ecuador, after the three men being accused for the rape were transferred to the Latacunga prison. According to article 171 of the Integral Penal Code of Ecuador, rape could carry a prison sentence of 19 to 22 years.
Likewise, activists, politicians, institutions, and citizens expressed their support for the victim, condemning the "machismo" culture in the country and the region that leads to such violence.
The Ombudsman's Office of Ecuador expressed its "deep rejection of the act of extreme sexual violence" against Martha. "This fact, through the means and cruelty demonstrated, reveals a social deterioration of the parameters of respect for human dignity, demonstrating at the same time the persistence of a male culture of undervaluation and contempt for the women … and also of the destruction that fundamentally undermines the freedom, integrity and life of women."
So far, two solidarity marches have been called for Monday, in which the feminist and women groups try to sound the alarm against a frequent phenomenon in the Ecuadorean society.
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The first one will take place in Quito, from the Tribune of "De Los Shyris" Avenue to the Prosecutor's Office, and the second one in Guayaquil, at the "Plaza San Francisco."
Organizers of the protests are demanding that the authorities take preventive and just measures for an Ecuador without any type of violence. The events have been publicized through social media platforms asking people to attend with black clothes and posters.
"People who are mobilizing, who are organizing marches have their right to do so, and people who want to support Martha only have to send a message using those hashtags #TodasSomosMartha and #NoEsNo, which she receives and knows are in her honor," lawyer Arellano told EFE.
Martha had to be hospitalized for two days to recover from the brutal injuries caused by the attack, according to her lawyer, which include several tears in the genital area caused by having been sodomized and penetrated with different elements.
"Although support and struggle do not heal your wounds, Martha; that's what we can do, what we should do to somehow return the smile, even if it takes years to arrive. Martha, we are with you," a Facebook user wrote commenting on the case.