According to the prosecutor's office, at least 573 femicides have been registered in Ecuador's population of 17.7 million since 2014

Missing Ecuadorian Lawyer Found Murdered, Husband Wanted

At least 573 femicides have been reported in Ecuador, with a population of 17.7 million, since 2014, according to prosecutors – Copyright AFP SAUL LOEB

The government said on Wednesday that a young female lawyer was found murdered in Ecuador 10 days after disappearing, in the latest femicide in a country plagued by violence against women.

The body of Maria Belen Bernal, 34, was found on a hill about five kilometers (3.1 miles) from Quito’s police school, where she went missing on September 11 while visiting her husband, Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said. Twitter.

Her husband, Lieutenant Herman Caceres, is on the run and is considered the prime suspect in the woman’s death, according to police.

“I deeply regret her death, a femicide that will not go unpunished,” Carrillo said as he announced the discovery of Bernal’s body.

President Guillermo Lasso also tweeted that “Bernal’s murder of a woman will not go unpunished and all those responsible will be held accountable under the law.”

According to her family, Bernal disappeared after entering the police college to visit her instructor husband.

Two days after she was reported missing, Cáceres also disappeared, leading to a manhunt and his dismissal from his job.

– “Let’s not rest” –

The head of the school was also fired, and the government offered a $20,000 reward for Cáceres’s capture.

“We will not rest until we bring the killer to justice,” the police said in a statement.

Marriage in Ecuador is punishable by up to 26 years in prison.

At least 573 femicides have been reported in Ecuador, with a population of 17.7 million, since 2014, according to prosecutors.

There were 206 murders of women in the first months of 2022, according to Geraldine Guerra of Aldea, an NGO that monitors femicides in the country.

That equates to about one woman every 28 hours, she says.

Official figures show that 65 out of every 100 Ecuadorian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced some form of violence.

On Monday, a prosecutor investigating hate crimes and femicide was killed outside the Ecuadorian prosecutor’s office in Guayaquil, authorities said.

Edgar Escobar was shot dead outside the building where he worked.

Crime and violence are on the rise in Ecuador as rival drug gangs sow terror, especially in Guayaquil and its prison system.

Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest producers of cocaine.

In 2021, the homicide rate nearly doubled from the previous year to 14 per 100,000 residents.

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