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Reuters/Henry Romero
Bringing rape out in the open.
SOCIAL MEDIA JUSTICE

A teenager who says she was raped is using Facebook to confront her alleged attackers

By Ana Campoy

Mexican authorities are still investigating the case of a teenager who was allegedly abducted and raped by her former classmates. But the trial on the case is well underway on the web.

All over Mexico, people have been following—and judging—the details of the incident, which have been disseminated by both the girl’s father and her alleged attackers on both regular and social media. The victim herself, Daphne Fernández, was the latest to weigh in on Facebook (link in Spanish.)

“If I’ve drunk, if I’ve gone out partying, if I’ve worn short skirts, like most if not all girls my age—for that you’re going to judge me?” she wrote on Monday (Mar. 28.) “Because of that I deserved it? Because of that, what happened happened?”

What allegedly happened in January 2015 is that Fernández, then 17, was snatched from the street outside a nightclub and loaded into a Mercedes Benz by four university students, three of whom had attended her private school in a wealthy suburb of the port city of Veracruz. They allegedly took her to one of their homes and raped her.

Fernández’s father, Javier, has said he didn’t file a complaint initially because his daughter begged him not to. He instead spoke to the alleged attackers’ parents, well-known politicians and businesspeople, and asked them to make their sons apologize to his daughter on camera in exchange for not denouncing them.

But, he alleged last week in an open letter (Spanish), the young men started spreading lies about what happened among their friends, so he reported the incident to authorities in May of 2015. In the open letter, he criticized the young men’s families for “cowardly and brutally defaming” his daughter on social media. He also released the apology video, in which the boys sheepishly admit they made a mistake and say they are very sorry for the harm they caused Fernández and her family—though they don’t specify what it is they did.

The alleged perpetrators, whose names and photos are now all over the web, have been dubbed “Los Porkys,” after the 1980’s movie about the shenanigans of a group of rowdy high-school students. In their own public letter (Spanish) released after Fernández’s, the four denied any wrongdoing, saying his daughter willingly got in the car with them.

The case is the latest example of Mexicans resorting to social media to seek justice given the country’s dysfunctional legal system. Only about a third of reported sexual abuse cases were brought to a judge between 2010 and 2015, according to an analysis by Mexico’s Executive Commission of Attention to Victims, an independent government agency that advocates for victims’ rights in public policies. Most of the cases, around 97%, were not even reported.

Amid all the publicity and a street protest, the prosecutor on the case said earlier this week the videos are not proof of a crime, but added that he’s committed to having justice done (Spanish.)

That wasn’t enough for Anonymous México. In a YouTube video, the hacker group warned that if the law does not punish the “Porkys,” it will. Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist at McGill University who studies hacking, said the YouTube account has all the telltale signs of being part of the broader Anonymous network.