Hundreds of Colombians have taken to the streets of Bogota to demand justice for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl found strangled in a luxurious apartment.
Yuliana Andrea Samboni was playing outside her family home in one of the poorest areas of the Colombian capital on Sunday when she was snatched from the street by a man in a grey van.
Hours later, her body was found with signs of rape and torture inside a flat belonging to a wealthy architect in the affluent Chapinero district.
The apartment’s 38-year-old owner had disappeared after checking himself into a private clinic for a cocaine overdose, and has since been arrested on charges of aggravated femicide, kidnapping, torture and “violent sexual intercourse”.
As news of Yuliana’s death spread, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Bogota. Some held a vigil with candles and flowers, while others massed outside the clinic where the suspect was being treated shouting “rapist” and “murderer” on Tuesday.
The murder has ignited public anger about rape and child sex abuse in Colombia, where as many as 40 children are believed to be raped every day, as well as over the country’s deep class divide.
While the suspect is from a well-known family and lived in one of Bogota’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, Yuliana was from a poor family belonging to the Yanakuna indigenous group who had fled to the city to escape fighting in their home province as part of Colombia's long-running civil war.
The girl’s mother, who also has a three-year-old daughter, has been hospitalised due to the trauma of her death, El Tiempo reported. Her father wept after viewing Yuliana's body late on Tuesday night, having to be supported by two people to walk out of the coroner's office.
Human Rights Watch’s 2016 world report described gender-based violence as “widespread” in Colombia, where victims struggle receive proper care and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.
In 2014, the government enacted a law to improve access to justice and protection for sexual violence survivors and last year the offence of “femicide” was created to specifically prosecute the murder of women and girls.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies