Activists criticize new anti-violence campaign in Mexico

Activists in Mexico are criticizing a new government ad campaign on violence against women, saying it is outdated and minimizes the problem

MEXICO CITY — Activists criticized a new Mexican government ad campaign on violence against women Thursday, saying it minimizes the problem and depicts women as aggressors, too.

A video included in the campaign urges men and women to “count to ten” before lashing out at people in their home, an approach used in a similar campaign in the 1980s. But activists said that reduces a huge structural and cultural problem to a simple issue of anger management.

For example, the very first scene of the video shows a woman slapping her forehead in anger when a man breaks some dishes. The video says she should count to 10 and wave a symbolic white flag. The video also shows a gay couple and a man with some children in similar situations.

Mexico recorded about 3,825 killings of women last year, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has sometimes seemed to minimize the problem.

“Shamefully, we’re seeing how federal authorities are mounting campaigns like ‘Count to ten’ that mirrors violence against women and puts the responsibility on the victims and underplays the crimes, making them appear just as simple emotional issues,” the National Observatory on Feminicide said in a statement.

The Interior Department, which released the ad, said it had not yet been broadcast. It said it would comment later on the issue.

One feminist group referred to the fact that Mexico sees an average of more than 10 women slain every day in what are deemed feminicides, defined in Mexican law as the killing of a woman because she is a woman.

“Count to ten yourself, Interior Department, because that is the number of feminicides there are every day in Mexico,” the group Witches of the Sea wrote on its Twitter account.

The civic group National Shelter Network cited one 30-year-old abuse victim as saying that “waving the white flag and counting to ten never worked for me, because it wasn’t about taking a deep breath, the blows just rained down instantly.”

In a message to the network, another woman wrote, “You have to go out and get help, not stay at home and count to ten.”

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