By Sarah Morland
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Local lawmakers in Mexico approved legislation on Thursday that would suspend parental rights for men being investigated for femicide, the first such reform in the country, as well as ramping up sanctions for those responsible for acid attacks.
Mexico faces some of the world's highest levels of gender violence, and spates of femicides - murders of women or girls on basis of their gender - has sparked fierce protests as women fight for more accountability.
Legislators in central Puebla state unanimously backed a reform to "remove, suspend or modify parental rights in cases of femicide," prompting loud cheers in the chamber following a minute's silence for femicide victims.
The reform is known as Monzon's law after lawyer Cecilia Monzon, who was shot dead last May. Authorities later arrested the key suspect, a former congressman and father of her child.
State lawmakers also unanimously approved legislation to sanction acid attacks with up to 40 years in prison, treating the crime as an equivalent to attempted femicide.
The reform, nicknamed Malena's law, honors saxophone player Maria Elena Rios, who testified at the debate three years after surviving an acid attack in her home which left her severely burned.
The accused suspect was briefly granted home arrest earlier this year, local media reported, before another judge overturned this.
"May this reform become an example at the national level to give us a better legal framework and access to a life free of violence," local lawmaker Nora Escamilla wrote in a tweet.
While Mexico's government reported a slight drop in the number of femicides last year, the number of women reported killed still shot up in 2022 by over 600 to 7,646 with most cases listed under the lesser offense of manslaughter.
This averages at more than 20 women killed each day. Government data from 2019 showed that for every 100 women killed in Mexico only four result in sentences.
(Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by David Alire Garcia & Shri Navaratnam)