The city council of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, has unanimously enacted a ban on songs that “promote violence against women” in a bid to combat the city’s high levels of domestic violence. The move comes with significant fines and potential backlash but serves as a vital step towards gender equality and respect.
The Ban: Details and Enforcement
- Effective Date: The ban was approved on July 26.
- Fines: Non-compliance fines range from 674,000 pesos to 1.244 million pesos (around $40,000-$74,000).
- Scope: The law prohibits the performance of songs that promote violence against women, as well as their discrimination, marginalization, or exclusion.
- Enforcement: The law will be enforced at events that require a permit from the council.
- Beneficiaries: Funds collected from fines will be paid to local organizations working for gender equality, like the Instituto Municipal de Mujeres, and a local women’s refuge.
- Previous Restrictions: This is not the first time local authorities in Chihuahua have moved to restrict musical performances. In 2012, the city banned the popular Mexican group Los Tigres del Norte for performing narcocorridos.
Targeted Genres and Artists
Although the law is not specifically aimed at a particular musical genre, musical genres like reggaeton, popularized by artists such as Bad Bunny, could be affected due to criticism for explicit and sexist lyrics. Narcocorridos and corridos tumbados, types of Mexican music linked to violence and the drug trade, could also be affected. Popular artists in these genres include Peso Pluma and Natanael Cano.
Background: The Pandemic of Gender-Based Violence
Mayor Marco Bonilla referred to violence against women as reaching levels akin to a “pandemic” in the city. He revealed that nearly 70% of emergency calls in Chihuahua relate to domestic violence against women. The statistics show that there have been 24 femicides, or gender-based killings, from January to June this year in Chihuahua state, according to Mexico’s Ministry of public security.
Reactions and Controversy
The decision to regulate live music in Chihuahua has ignited both support and criticism. State congressman Francisco Sánchez slammed the decision as being unconstitutional, while others have branded it a form of cultural puritanism. Comparisons have also been drawn with the suppression of music in countries like Afghanistan.
However, women’s rights activists and many officials defend the decision as a necessary move in a country where gender-based violence is a severe issue. The reality, as stated by women’s rights activist Veronica Corchado, is that “we have a gender violence problem that cannot be unseen.”
This move by Chihuahua resonates with similar attempts in Europe to curb sexist music. Last summer, authorities in German towns banned a specific song for its sexist lyrics. Carnival organizers in north-eastern Spain were also told to remove sexist songs from their playlists. The balance between freedom of expression and promoting respectful content continues to be a debated issue globally.
The ban in Chihuahua, while controversial, marks a significant stance against the normalization of violence against women. By taking such a bold step, the city is striving to create a community in which men and women can live with equality and respect. With increasing global attention on gender-based violence, this move might set a precedent for others to follow in creating safer environments for everyone.