‘It’s not life’s plan. It’s machismo’: Outrage in Peru over 22-year-old woman’s murder

(GV) – In a short period of time, 22-year-old Eyvi Liset Ágreda Marchena made the front pages of Peruvian media. The first time was on April 24, when it was reported that a man sprayed her with fuel and set her on fire while she was returning home from work by bus, and again on June 1, when she passed away from the serious burns that affected 60% of her body.

This latest case of femicide has shocked Peru and underscores a serious issue that continues to affect the country.

The aggressor, Carlos Javier Hualpa Vacas, was Ágreda’s former coworker and had allegedly been harassing her for weeks. After initially denying his involvement, Hualpa eventually confessed to the attack which eventually lead to Ágreda’s death.

In his statements, Hualpa revealed he sprayed gasoline on her and set her on fire “because he felt used” by Ágreda. Hualpa claimed that Ágreda had to be taught a lesson because she owed him some money:

Como no me pagaba, entonces sentí que me había utilizado. […] no dormía, me ponía a llorar. Ella era muy feliz, haciendo su vida normal y yo fregado, discutía con mi mamá. […] alguien tenía que ponerle un alto […].

Realmente, yo no tenía las intenciones de dañar a nadie. Yo solamente quería dañarle su cara, porque ella siempre decía que su cara era bonita.

Because she didn’t pay me, I felt she’d used me. […] I wasn’t sleeping, I cried a lot. She was very happy, she was living her normal life and I was screwed up, I argued with my mom. […] someone had to put a stop to her […].

I really didn’t intend to harm anyone. I only wanted to affect her face, because she always said her face was pretty.

Hualpa claimed he only wanted to spray the fuel on her face, but the bus started to move and so it spread all over her body. Other passengers were also affected by the attack.

On April 27, Hualpa was issued a nine-month precautionary prison warrant on charges of attempted aggravated femicide, serious injuries against seven bus passengers, and endangering public safety. During the hearing, Hualpa showed remorse:

If I’m issued 20, 30 years, I’ll accept it […] I deserve it.

Meanwhile, his victim underwent several surgical procedures to remove necrotic tissue and to graft swine skin on her body. Ágreda was sedated to spare her the pain from her wounds, and was also kept under artificial respiration. On May 17, she reportedly recovered consciousness and spoke with her relatives, asking them if she could go home.  All in all, Ágreda underwent 12 operations in a little over a month.

“For Eyvi, for all of us”

On June 1, news of Ágreda’s passing shocked the country. The group “Ni una menos” (Not one less) immediately convened a march for that same afternoon:

One of us is missing.
For Eyvi, for all of us 

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🚨We convene ourselves for Eivy, for all of us. We’ll take the streets to protest against a sexist system that dehumanizes us women, THAT KILLS US. Because if one is missing, we all take the streets. VIGIL TODAY AT THE JUDICIARY – 7 PM.

On Twitter, the hasthags #EyviAgreda, #PorEyviPorTodas (For Eyvi, for all of us) and the already widely shared #NiUnaMenos (Not one women less) were trending topics and a sounding board of general outrage:

It’s not life’s plan. It’s machismo.
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It’s not ‘life’s plan’, it’s machismo. Graffiti made today in Lima as a response to President Martin Vizcarra, who blamed 23-year-old [sic] Eyvi Ágreda’s death, due to serious burns caused by a guy who harassed her for two years, on fate and not sexism.

This graffiti refers to comments made about Ágreda’s passing by President Martin Vizcarra who stated that “sometimes these are life’s plans“. Vizcarra, who was harshly criticized for his statement, later went on to explain that he wasn’t talking about the aggression but rather he was making a comment that life’s plan didn’t allow doctors to save her life.

I’m 22 years old. On April 24, Carlos Hualpa —who didn’t take NO as an answer— sprayed gasoline over me and set the bus on fire. With over 50% of my body burnt, I fought back. I’m telling this because Eyvi Ágreda can’t do it anymore. Machismo kills.

Even Hualpa’s attorney had very harsh words for his client:

Mario Arribas said he’d go on defending Carlos Hualpa, but “only to protect [his client’s] right to live”. What do you think?
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Eyvi Agreda’s murderer Carlos Hualpa’s attorney: “May he rot in jail!” What do you think?

Currently, femicide and gender-based violence are serious problems in Peruvian society. The Development and Family Health Survey (ENDES 2017) concluded that six out of 10 Peruvian women admit to having been victims of violence by their partners or spouses. Although the last five years have seen the percentage of female victims of violence decline from 71.5% to 65.4%, the figures are still alarming. Only in the first four months of 2018, over 40 cases of femicide were reported in Perú, representing a 26% rise in comparison to same period in 2017.

Originally published on Global Voices Written byGabriela Garcia Calderon Orbe