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Protest in Panama over disappearance of more than fifteen women

More than a hundred people protested Tuesday in Panama against the disappearance of more than 15 women during the last year, a denunciation made by several collectives.

“Every day there is a girl, a minor, a woman, a mother, a wife missing and the authorities do nothing at all,” Nayiska Pimentel, one of the demonstrators who protested outside the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office in Panama City, told AFP.

In recent days, several groups have denounced the disappearance in Panama of at least 15 women during the last year. These organizations fear that the missing women may have been murdered, kidnapped or raped.   

“We all want us alive,” said Melvis Gernado, also present at the protest.

Some of the demonstrators carried purple scarves and signs with slogans such as “we want justice, not statistics.”

It is “very regrettable, very painful for us (…) Our mothers and sisters are missing in our homes, we want them back, we want them returned”, added Agar Tejada at the same rally.

For its part, the Attorney General’s Office denied that there has been a significant increase in the number of disappearances in the country in the last year.

“There is no unusual increase in the number of disappearances of people, (although) there are specific cases that call attention,” said Azael Samaniego, secretary general of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, at a press conference on Monday.

According to Samaniego, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating 17 disappearances of women and 29 of men in Panama.

“Work is being done on each of these cases,” Samaniego said.

Security Minister Juan Manuel Pino also recently downplayed the significance of the figure, which has raised criticism from feminist collectives. “Many of these (missing) people have left with other partners or have emigrated from Panama,” he said. 

The minister’s words met with a response at Tuesday’s protest: “Mr. minister If it were your daughter, sister or wife, would you say they left with the boyfriend or from the country?” one protester pointed out on a sign.

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