Emergency calls due to domestic violence are way up in Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic, spiking to 400,000 911 calls in April alone.
And although President López Obrador argued that 90% of those calls were false earlier this month, his administration has come up with a controversial campaign to bring peace to Mexican homes by asking people in potentially violent situations to “count to 10.”
The campaign is a reboot of a 1998 effort with the same name to end family violence, and some activists find it simplistic, antiquated and offensive, especially coming on the heels of the president’s perceived dismissal of family violence as a rising problem.
“President Andrés Manuel López Obrador again reflects — with his statements on gender violence — that this government has a macho and patriarchal vision, which perpetuates impunity and violence against women, girls and boys,” said Wendy Figueroa Morales of the National Shelter Network (RNR), who says domestic violence calls have risen by 77%, and requests for shelter are up 50%.
The “Count to 10” campaign is stereotypical, Figueroa argues, and seems to suggest that victims of violence should not react to abuse. “We cannot give that message to a woman who is at risk with her attacker. It seems totally inappropriate to me,” she said.
Campaign videos show families in stressful situations that are resolved by counting to 10 and then waving a white flag and do not address criminal intent or actions on the part of the attacker.
“What we see is a campaign full of prejudices, which represents a middle-class family and makes us believe that violence only occurs there,” said lawyer and activist Patricia Olamendi.
“While we count to 10, there have already been 10 murders,” said fellow activist and founder of the Feminist Constituents, Yndira Sandoval, who joined Olamendi and others in calling for the “Count to 10” campaign to be repealed.