Activists worry effort to modify Sonora’s femicide law could weaken it

By Kendal Blust
Published: Monday, July 4, 2022 - 5:05am
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.09 MB)

Femicide has been recognized and punished as a crime in neighboring Sonora, Mexico, for nearly a decade. But some advocates worry legislative efforts to reform the penal code could make it less effective.

Sonora has one of the strongest codes on the books regarding femicide, says Silvia Nunez, Sonora’s representative with the National Observatory on Femicide.

She worries a new legislative effort to reform the 2013 code that establishes femicide as a crime could end up weakening it, she said, because the proposed modification uses language that is less precise and less able to withstand legal challenges than the existing law.

She compared the effort to other legislation passed in recent years, including Olimpia's Law and Ingrid's Law, both of which are meant to protect women and other vulnerable populations, but which leaders wrote in such as way that groups that had advocated for the measures ultimately opposed the resulting laws. Olympia's law is meant to prevent  the sharing of personal images - often called "revenge porn" — and Ingrid's law was created to protect private, sensitive images of femicide victims and other victims of violent crime.

But in the case of Sonora's femicide laws, Nunez and others say instead of re-doing something that works, leaders should tackle other issues — like establishing prevention measures for women and enforcing existing laws on gender violence.

In Sonora, 56 women were murdered from January through May of this year. Seven of those killings have been classified as femicides. That means officials are classifying significantly fewer murders of women as femicides than in previous years. In 2021, a record year for gender violence in Sonora and across Mexico, 51 women were murdered in the first five months of the year, with 20 of those killings classified as femicides.

That's a problem, Nunez said. But it won't be fixed with the current legislative reform.

"Impunity will end when murders of women are properly investigated by authorities as femicides. That's when it will end," she said. "We have the laws. But they have to be used correctly."

Fronteras Sonora Gender