Sonoran Legislators Approve Controversial Digital Violence Law
Legislators in neighboring Sonora, Mexico, passed a law Thursday meant to protect women from sexual violence online. However, feminist groups have criticized the measure, calling it a gag law.
In August, Sonoran legislators postponed a vote on a bill that would criminalize nonconsensual sharing of sexual images online, after feminist activists protested the law. They said it’s vague and imprecise language could result in sanctions against journalists and victims of abuse who publish information about their abusers. And Olimpia Coral, an activist who has pushed for the legislative reforms across Mexico and for whom the law was initially named, visited Sonora earlier this year to support local feminists in opposing the bill.
But on Thursday, lawmakers unanimously voted to pass the law anyway.
"We would have loved to celebrate big that Olimpia's Law had passed," said journalist and activist Silvia Nuñez. "But instead, I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of what happened in Sonora."
A similar measure called Olimpia’s Law has passed in 22 Mexican states. But Nuñez says Sonora’s version doesn’t merit the name.
"It's not Olimpia's Law. It's simply not," she said.
She called legislator's failure to pass the law it as intended is evidence that the state continues to fall behind other parts of the county in terms of women's rights.
The law will allow victims to denounce videos, photos and other sexual content shared online without their consent, which some feminists are calling a step forward. But they are disappointed by additional parts of law that they say opens it up to abuse.
"It's ambiguous and dangerous. With the effort to 'cover more' they open the door to causing more harm," Coral wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.
Nuñez said the biggest concern is that because of the way the law is written, victims who choose to call out their abusers online by publishing messages or other content that could be defined as being "intimate," could face sanctions under the law.