The murder of a young woman by her enraged husband outside the official residence of the Jalisco governor, the Casa Jalisco, has triggered a wave of protest over the high incidence of domestic violence and femicides (murders of women) in the state.
On the morning of April 24, Vanesa Gaytán Ochoa was run over and then stabbed to death by her husband at the corner of the governor’s mansion located on Calle Manuel Acuña.
According to reports, Gaytán was on her way to work when she realized she was being followed in a car driven by her husband, Emanuel Ramírez Barajas, who had previously exhibited aggressive behavior toward his spouse. The couple were separated and in the process of a divorce.
Concerned for her welfare, Gaytán called family members, who advised her to walk to nearby Casa Jalisco – a few blocks away – and ask for help.
Arriving at the residence, Gaytán approached a security guard and started to explain the situation to him. At that moment, Ramírez plowed his vehicle into the conversing pair, knocking both to the ground. He then got out of the car and proceeded to stab his wife repeatedly with a knife.
The state attorney general, Ocatvio Solis, happened to be visiting Casa Jalisco at the moment of the incident. One of his bodyguards stationed outside the property quickly realized what was going on and managed to fire off a couple of rounds at Ramírez.
Although Ramirez now lay injured, the damage was done. Gaytán died at the scene from her wounds a short time later. The security guard suffered only minor injures.
Ramírez was taken to a nearby hospital but died shortly thereafter.
It was later revealed that Gaytán had previously lodged complaints about the behavior of her husband at the Women’s Justice Center.
According to Spanish-language newspapers with access to the case files, Gaytán had been provided with “a protection order,” while authorities were said to be in regular contact with her to check on her wellbeing.
The tragic incident has renewed calls for authorities to take steps to improve protection measures for women at risk of domestic violence, and, in consequence, reduce the high numbers of femicides.
More than 100 people, including family members of Gaytan, protested outside Casa Jalisco April 28, demanding major changes to ensure the safety of at-risk women.
Among the demonstrators was Guadalupe Ramos, coordinator of the Jalisco branch of Cladem (Comité de América Latina y El Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer). “Things cannot carry on as they are,” she said, highlighting more than 100 gender-related murders in Jalisco in the past 12 months. “There has to be a complete restructuring of the justice system so that the protection orders are (effective).”
Several days later, also outside the Casa Jalisco, representatives of Amnesty International (AI) called on Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro to “apologize” for Gaytán’s death, and “assume responsibility” for the high incidence of femicides in the state. AI Mexico coordinator Edith Olivares said the tragic incident offered an opportunity for the government to “not only strengthen the sanctions for femicide but also think about preventive policies.”
In the wake of the incident, the Jalisco state government quickly announced new medium- and long-term changes to protocols that, a press bulletin stated, “will enable women to live lives free of violence.”
The new measures will mean at-risk women and their would-be aggressors will be much more closely monitored, authorities say.
Governor Alfaro, who met with the protesters outside the Casa Jalisco last week, vowed to confront the issue and promised to open “spaces” for dialogue with all interested parties.