“ . . .I have faith in you. You’re like my family that never gives up. And I have faith that I’ll soon regain my freedom. But it also makes me furious to be in here, locked up for fighting and defending my life against the man who was attacking me, while there’s a motherfucker walking around out there like he hasn’t done a thing. I’m petitioning the Supreme Court to grant me my freedom because I love life; that’s why I fought and that’s why I’m alive. And I want to live my life and enjoy it with my family and people that I love. I want to believe that justice exists for women in my city and that it exists in our Mexico. Just as I fought for my life, I’m now fighting for my freedom, and I want you to keep on supporting me, because by doing so, you’re supporting your own daughters as well. . .”
These words written by Yakiri Rubí Rubio Aupart were read at the end of a march to the Benito Juarez Monument from the Angel of Independence in Mexico City on Sunday, December 29, to demand the immediate freedom of a young woman who’s been wrongfully imprisoned for the last twenty days. All afternoon, family members denounced many of the injustices in the case, and a good number of women responded to the open invitation to speak out. Their supportive remarks reflected different points of view but made it clear that the treatment given to Yakiri reflects the situation of violence, feminicide and impunity experienced every day by thousands of women in this country and the world.
It is clear that Yaki is being held prisoner because she dared to live. The 20-year old couldn’t keep two brutes from forcing her into a hotel and raping her. But when Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Anaya tried to stab her to death, she was able to twist his wrist around, which resulted in the knife plunging into his own jugular vein. Due to his death, Yaki now faces charges of aggravated homicide even though she’s the one who was illegally deprived of her freedom and subjected to rape and attempted murder. Meanwhile, the other rapist, Luis Omar Rodríguez Anaya, walks free.
“Mancera, get this. Yaki is innocent,” shouted hundreds of people. Some of the phrases painted on placards or bodies read as follows: “Immediate freedom for Yaki,” “Women have the right to legitimate defense, too” “Justice,” “Nothing justifies sexual violence,” “NO means NO,” “Defending our lives is not a crime, Free Yaki, Free us all,” “Sexist violence is a crime, jail for defending yourself, as well,” “Machete for machotes,” “Applause, respect, support and admiration for women who defend themselves. NO PUNISHMENT. Yakiri, you are not alone.”
Before the march set out from the Angel, Yaki’s mother spoke about her daughter in an interview:
“Hello, I’m Marina, Yakiri’s mother. Just to comment about her situation in prison, she’s really happy about all the support she’s gotten from people, and about all the letters people have sent. Now she’s in the Tepepan prison hospital where she feels more relaxed. She has a little more protection and somewhat better treatment. She’s been there for ten days.”
At first she was in the Santa Martha prison where several women beat her badly, including one who said she was the “sister of the man killed.” However, says Marina, “after investigating the girl, we know she has no connection with him. They gave her something like fifty pesos (less than $4 USD) to beat up my daughter. She’s been in prison with four different names, which tells us that she’s well into criminal activity, so she was willing to do it.” But aside from that, Yaki was threatened by other inmates who were also paid, and she couldn’t rest easy. After a complaint was filed with the Human Rights Commission, they transferred her to a protected area, but she was kept under lock and key and could only leave the area in the custody of three people.
“Her arrest and imprisonment has been a tremendous shock for us,” says Marina. “Her status changed from that of victim to victimizer. She went to the public prosecutor’s office to press charges for rape and attempted murder, but since the perpetrators were neighbors of one of the prosecutors in Agency 50, her legal situation changed dramatically. While she was there, they never told her she was under arrest. They just left her there incommunicado for ten hours. They never let her make a phone call to the family. They gave her nothing to eat. They just held her there. She was finally able to send a message to a friend on her cell phone and that’s how we found out, but not until the next day. She went to the prosecutor’s office on Monday December 9 at 10:30 that night and we learned that she was still there on Tuesday at 11:30 in the morning.”
At first they refused to investigate and confirm the charge of rape in spite of photographs and other evidence, including deep cuts and serious injuries that she suffered during the attack. She received no medical treatment for those wounds. The suture that a paramedic gave her for a deep cut on her arm was so badly done that it got infected and is still giving her trouble. They didn’t give her any antiretroviral drugs or the 72-hour pill. No medical attention whatsoever.
Ten days later, the Sex Crimes Division finally did a preliminary investigation and began to take charge of the matter. Now it’s been established that the rape did take place.
“We’ve been to see her every visiting day. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Now she feels a little more relaxed. We’d like to thank all the people who are supporting us, those who’ve been supportive from the very first. Words can’t express the way I feel. As Yaki’s mother, I really feel blessed. I never thought there would be such a positive outpouring from people. I’m very grateful.”
People who spoke at the march included Norma Andrade, founder of Bring our Daughters Home, and her granddaughter Jade, who continue to demand justice for their daughter and mother Lilia Alejandra and so many other women murdered in Cd. Juárez; Sergio Ferrer, who urged support for the freedom of political prisoner Nestora Salgada of the Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero; and the families of the disappeared youth in the Heaven Bar case. One of the mothers stated that the supposed remains found were not those of their children and that they’ve had no help whatsoever from the authorities in finding them.
Yaki’s situation brings to mind the cases of other women who have defended themselves against violence, including Marissa Alexander in Florida, sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband who was attacking and threatening to kill her. After passing more than a thousand days in prison, Marissa finally got out on bail to continue fighting her case. In the early 1970s widespread public support was a key factor in winning the exoneration of Inez García and Joan Little, two women who killed their rapists in the United States.
In the march to free Yakiri, her father José Luis Rubio commented as the march left the Angel that in a society marked by scorn and hatred of women, where feminicides are on the rise, “we have to love our daughters. I’m talking about all our daughters in Mexico and the world. And when they find it necessary to defend themselves, we must defend them.” He explained that it had been hard for him to accept the fact that his daughter is a lesbian but that now he admires her bravery and feels totally proud of her. “Now Yaki is not only our daughter, she’s your daughter, too. Let’s free Yaki!”
At the end of the march, José Luis pointed out the absurdity of the prosecution’s charges that Yaki stabbed the heavyset man 16 times. He asked: How can a girl weighing less than a 100 pounds stab a 198-pound man sixteen times without him lifting a finger in his own defense? He denounced his daughter’s assailants, “call them criminals or call them public officials,” as well as the “low-life press” that criminalizes women who are obliged to defend themselves. He asked: “Why all the hatred of women? What message do they get when they are locked up for exerting their right to self-defense? Why do they have to endure sexual assault and rape and then pray to God that their rapist won’t kill them?”
To close the demonstration, flowers, placards, and purple and white balloons were placed at the Juarez monument.