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  • Diane Rodriguez, a member of the Ecuadorean transgender community, casts her vote during the presidential election in Guayaquil, Ecuador Feb. 19, 2017.

    Diane Rodriguez, a member of the Ecuadorean transgender community, casts her vote during the presidential election in Guayaquil, Ecuador Feb. 19, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 December 2017

Women rights groups say that 2017 has been far more deadly for women than previous years and that an urgent action by the government is needed.

Women advocacy organizations in Ecuador are calling on the government to declare a state of emergency to confront acts of violence against women in the country in the wake of the recent killing of a 9-year-old girl in the southern city of Loja on Dec. 19.

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Ana Vera, the spokesperson for the local collective “Vivas que Queremos”, told local news agency Andes Thursday that the spike in homicides in Ecuador warrant the declaration of a state of emergency in the face of systematic violence against women and girls.

The call for action comes after 9-year-old Emilia B. was found dead in a river after being missing for days. "Emilia was murdered because she is a woman, because she is a girl, and this is part of a social and cultural pattern that exists in society," Vera said.

She further decried the slow reaction by authorities in such cases and said a declaration of a state of emergency would help fix such shortcomings.

"It is necessary to activate solid protection mechanisms, since the first 24 hours are vital to locate a person before a crime is committed against them, searches must therefore be immediate and concrete by state institutions."

The declaration would also grant women rights groups more access to vulnerable women and girls in areas where femicides take place, where such organizations can carry out campaigns against violence, the women rights activist added.  

Vera’s comments were echoed by Rocío Rosero, the representative of the Coalition of Women of Ecuador, who warned that those acts of violence against women cannot be treated as isolated events which would lead to ignoring the underlying problem and normalizing violence against women.

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According to Rosero 137 femicides took place in Ecuador so far in 2017, including 21 girls and teenagers, compared to less than 100 the previous year, which “speaks of a high prevalence of sexual violence and femicide also against girls and adolescents."

Therefore a government declaration of emergency is needed so that society is aware there is a problem that must be confronted collectively. "In these cases there must be clarification, truth and justice, guaranteeing systems of protection for the victims.”

Andrés de la Vega, Ecuadorian Deputy Minister of the Interior, was quoted by Andes as saying that to date there have been 101 femicides this year, less than the number reported by women rights groups, compared to 78 in 2016.

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