The murder of two Argentine girls backpacking through South America has prompted women all over the world to defend solo travelling by females.
Maria Coni and Marina Menegazzo, 22 and 21, were found dead in Ecuador’s pacific coast region in February and two men were later charged with their murder, the Ecuadorian government said.
The girls had run out of money while travelling and got in touch with a friend who then organised a place for them to stay with two other men, Ecuador’s state prosecutor Eduardo Gallardo Roda said.
The two men sexually assaulted the girls and then murdered the pair before dumping their bodies, according to authorities.
In the wake of the tragedy, many pointed fingers at the girls for travelling unaccompanied by a man and even questioned their parents for letting them travel independently.
One of the most controversial opinions was offered by Argentine psychiatrist Hugo Marietan who said the girls “took a risk” and labelled them “scapegoats”.
“There are parts of the world that are not ready for full freedom of the woman,” he said on his Twitter.
“Women, you are also responsible for your preservation. Do [you] serve you feminist theories in that final moment?
He later said he directed blame toward the murderers but his intention was for women to take due care.
“I focus on prevention,” he said.
In response to the flurry of victim blaming, one woman from Paraguay wrote a Facebook post, from the perspective of the deceased girls, that went viral.
“Worse than death was the humiliation that followed,” Guadalupe Acosta wrote.
“[People] started asking useless questions, ‘What clothes did you have on?’, ‘You got into a dangerous neighbour, what do you expect?’
“Doing what I wanted to, not wanting to stay at home, to invest my own money in my dreams. For that and more, I was sentenced.”
Ms Acosta’s condemnation of the way many had attacked the two girls, in a way she believed two men would not be, has now triggered a wide response on social media under the hashtag #Viajosola — Spanish for “I travel alone”.
Women across the globe have begun posting photos of themselves on their solo travels to advocate the overseas adventures women should not be afraid to chase alone.
“I always travel alone, nothing’s wrong with that. It’s NOT an invitation for robbing, raping or killing. Not among sane humans. #Viajosola,” one Twitter user wrote.
“#Viajasola because I’m independent, with a thirst for adventure & it’s OUR world! Not just for men!” another wrote.
“#Viajosola because I refuse to sit at home and wait for a male travel buddy to join me. Just stop blaming women!” Chantal from London said.
— RL (@Rebecca_924) March 10, 2016
— Rebecca Stewart (@GallopingSkirt) March 13, 2016