Puebla’s state Congress has formally legalized the use of pepper spray for self-defense following remarks by the state capital’s security chief last month that women could be arrested for possessing the substance and should not try to resist an attack.
In light of a controversy caused the comments, which also suggested that women should not try to resist physical attacks, Governor José Antonio Gali Fayad proposed an amendment to the state’s criminal code to specifically sanction possession and use of the chemical agent, a common form of tear gas.
Possession of up to 150 millimeters of pepper spray is now legal within state borders. The use of electroshock weapons such as stun guns or Tasers was also given the green light as part of the reform.
The amendment doesn’t state the maximum voltage permitted for such weapons but specifies that their use is approved with the proviso that they don’t pose a threat to a person’s life or have the potential to cause a loss of consciousness.
During debate of the amendment, Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) deputy Socorro Quezada criticized the statements Puebla Public Security Secretary Manuel Alonso García made on March 18 while addressing the media about the attempted rape and strangling of a university student.
Quezada voted in favor of the reform but declared it was not needed. However, she added that she was pleased that her colleagues had taken a further step towards ensuring that women did not suffer more violations of their human rights.
There were at least 100 femicides in Puebla last year, including one high-profile case in which a 19-year-old woman was murdered by a driver for the ride-hailing service Cabify.
A textile design student came up with an innovative response to the high levels of violence against women in the state last year, designing a pair of high-heels with a space to store small canisters of pepper spray inside each 13-centimeter heel.