Children in Colombia´s coastal city of Cartagena de Indias can no longer dance the traditional “champeta” or other “erotic” rhythms that affect their normal sexual development, according to an agreement approved by the City Council.
“Champeta”, originally made reference to a short knife or blade, used in the region for work in both the kitchen and in the fields. The musical began in Cartagena’s poorer municipalities, hit hard by poverty and mistreatment. Champeta music, and its accompanying dances, are now incredibly popular across Colombia and beyond.
The initiative was passed by a majority of 16 votes under the title: “Agreement establishing the prevention of acts of early eroticism, or any act that affects the overall proper development in sexual and reproductive rights of children in the District of Cartagena.”
Under agreement 171, dancing, or representations of any kind with erotic or sexual content, will not be allowed to be carried out by minors in public and private schools in the district.
“We are the first council in the country to vote in favor of protecting the rights and freedom of sexual development of children,” said Councilman Antonio Salim Guerra, legislator of the project, who put the issue on the table since last July.
A healthy environment?
Speaking to Caracol Radio, Councilman Guerra said that “what the project looks to offer boys and girls of Cartagena is to grow and develop in a healthy environment.”
“We are feeding the project with 16 studies across Latin America, which related that the affect of erotic songs on the part of the human psyche in minors, and also biological and medical studies, confirm that children´s sexual desires are awakened from an earlier age when they have physical or sexual contact.”
Family Commissions are to be responsible for enforcing the law that protects children.
However, parents also have their work cut out. If a minor is caught performing erotic dances, parents will be punished “pedagogically.”
Councilman Guerra said that “an adult who is blatantly promoting these dances will be given a summons by police and made to receive training. The person will also be registered with a history, and if a repeat is made they will have to carry out compulsory social service.”
The project originally only prohibited erotic dancing, but was later extended to “all acts affecting the normal sexual development of children” without exact specifications.
The new law hasn´t come without its critiques.
Speaking to El Espectador newspaper, champeta singer Louis Tower said that he couldn’t “find sense in the project.”
“What any city authority should be concerned about is improving Children´s education, especially those belonging to areas where hunger and extreme poverty is present. The problem is education,” Tower said.
Other´s claim that champeta is not just dance music, but that it has also been a tool to tell the life stories of the poorest people in Cartagena.
Elio Boom is one of Cartagena´s most famous champeta singers. An example of some of his lyrics (translated by the author) are:
“This is the story of a boy called Carlitos, his mum would talk to him at the same time she would beat him, poor little boy, his mum had him intimidated… very scared she had him, she treated him very badly, it didn’t seem like he was her child.”
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