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Critics Bash Mexico City’s “Rape Whistle” Program

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - May 30, 2016, 3:13 pm
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A subway car in Mexico City, where sexual harassment is known to occur. (Wikimedia)

Español Harassment of women on public transportation in Latin American cities is a serious problem, but on Thursday, May 26, the jokes were flowing on social media in response to Mexico City’s attempt to address the issue.

A new measure announced by the mayor of Mexico City Miguel Ángel Mancera to combat sexual harassment via rape whistle has sparked harsh criticism from citizens and social media.

With the Twitter hashtag #ElPitoDeMancera, the jokes followed the mayor’s Wednesday announcement, which was part of a program to stop violence toward women in public spaces. Whistles will be given to women and men to warn authorities about harassment.

During the announcement of the measure, Mancera said that the plan is intended to give “an alert signal to society that says there is something happening over here and we are not indifferent to it.” 

“When you see unusual behavior or hear the sound of a whistle, follow the sound. Be part of the solution, use the whistle to ask for support from other citizens and to warn aggressors to leave the area immediately,” a press release said.

Critics said that the initiative is inadequate, arguing that creating a lot of noise will not necessarily help a potential victim. Others resented the notion that it is the victim’s responsibility to protect themselves.

In this regard, the Secretary of the Government of Mexico City Patricia Mercado said in an television interview that the whistle is only a “complimentary measure” that looks to find a “civic sanction” against the harasser, which may be a stronger and more educational method than putting someone in jail for six years, as the law now dictates.”

Mercado said the measure is part of a campaign implemented 30 days ago, after a march against violence against women — including government and police officials on the job.

We are talking about harassment, specifically in public. It doesn’t have to be rape, as there are other types of violence that we need to take seriously,” Mercado said.

The mayor said Thursday, May 26, that it will be handing out 10,000 rape whistles from the Institute of Women in Mexico City after the electoral ban that ends June 5. He said since the program has started, 225 cases of sexual harassment have been reported, 69 of which have been in the metro.

The average age of the aggressors is reportedly 36, while the victims on average are 22.

Source: Radio Fórmula.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.