When Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni disappeared, I knew nothing of it. Amidst writing my thesis and having about 500 emotional crisis a day, I was not really reading the news. When they were found dead, however, the internet blew up and there was no way I could ignore the story any longer.
Marina and María were traveling together (although most media outlets say "they were traveling alone") in Ecuador when they disappeared on February 22. A few days later, their bodies were found with signs of being hit on their heads. Two men were detained and one of them confessed they had taken the girls to a house, where they tried to rape them. As the girls fought against it, the man hit one of them on the head, killing her instantly, and the other girl was stabbed to death.
These girls had done nothing wrong.
These girls were having fun, together, enjoying their trip.
These girls were stripped of their dignity and their right to live.
These girls remind me and every other woman why our mothers always try to protect us saying "don't go alone", "don't come home too late", "don't talk to strangers" over and over again.
Traveling alone is one of my favorite activities. I love being alone. Truly alone. I found this out when I once explored New York for a weekend on my own. I loved following my own rules, my own schedule. Having the liberty to just be with myself and my desires. So it taunts me that, although I am privileged enough to be someone who is able to travel, I cannot do that on my own without feeling scared.
Marina and María made me go back to early 2015, when I was exploring Europe, solo, and I tweeted lightheartedly saying that I had been a bit frightened to walk around in the pitch black night. My sister immediately picked up on the tweet and sent me a text asking if everything was okay. On that moment, realizing my sister had done many a trips on her own before me, I knew she knew the feeling. I knew she, too, had walked around dark streets, eager to explore new places, but deep inside felt uneasy and alert. I knew every other women felt this too. Walking home from work. Going to a movie theater alone. Being.
The fact that these girls had each other and yet were considered to be travelling "alone", as if only a male companion actually validates not being alone, is disgusting, scary and sad. While women are scared of grabbing a taxi on their own because the driver might rape them, men are scared the driver might rob them. Women are not considered equal. Women are not considered deserving of respect. Not even the most fortunate of us. After all, these girls were part of the "privileged women", white, pretty and wealthy enough to travel. And yet they suffered the most brutal punishment for being born women. Can you even imagine how unsafe, unprotect, unguarded less privileged women feel? I can't. And that's just even more reason for us to keep fighting. For Marina and María. For colored women. For poor women. For trans women. For gay women. For all of us. For each other. In our different inequalities, in our sharing sisterhood.
Do not dismiss Women's Day as a mere gift, praise, congratulations giving day.
This is a fight day. Like all our days.