A new law went into effect on Wednesday in Toluca, the capital of México state, that punishes harassment such as catcalls and indecent touching with jail time.
But as with all laws old or new the question is, will it be enforced?
The law punishes such harassment with 24 hours of jail time for first-time offenders, and 36 hours for repeat offenders.
Alma, a young college student, told the newspaper El Universal that the law “sounds good on paper” but she is afraid it will not be enforced, and that the situation for women in Toluca will not improve.
According to a survey by the national statistics institute Inegi, 86% of Toluca residents feel unsafe, but women are more likely to fear for their physical safety.
Another survey found that 60% of Mexican women have been harassed in public spaces. One of them is Alma.
“People have said things to me on the street, but I try not to pay much attention,” she said. “One of my friends was touched on a bus, and that makes me really angry because sometimes us women get paralyzed by fear. This situation of gender violence makes me feel very angry, disgusted and powerless.”
Miriam, a teacher in Toluca, told El Universal that she thinks the law is a good idea.
“I think it’s good they’re going to be punished, because there’s a lot of harassment all around the city,” she said.
Last month, Mexico City lawmakers passed similar legislation making verbal sexual harassment an arrestable offense that can be punished with between 13 and 24 hours in jail or six to 12 hours of community service, as well as a fine of between 11 and 40 days’ wages.