Cultures

Women in Mexico fight back against harassment

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Many women, if not most, have stories of times when they were sexually harassed. A recent twitter hashtag campaign raised awareness of some of the shocking experiences women have had by asking them to tweet accounts of the first time they were sexually harassed with the hashtag #wheniwas. A similar hashtag in Mexico is now raising attention about the unique danger that women face when taking public transportation. #Mipremierabuso, or “my first abuse,” allows women to recount tales of the first time that they were sexually harassed. Many revolve around the crowded public trains of Mexico City, where women in Mexico have been recounting seemingly endless occasions of sexual assault. Now women in Mexico are struggling to put an end to the culture of silence and permissiveness that allows these assaults to continue.

A report by the Mexico City Government found that two-thirds of women in Mexico over the age of 15 have been sexually assaulted. Yet, the majority do not report such incidences to the police. Most of the women asked say that the reason they do not report assaults is that they feel nothing will be done about it. Many women in Mexico even suggested that it was often the police who committed the harassment.

A second report indicated that the city’s public transport system is a focal point for these kinds of abuse. The crowded trains and anonymity provide potential predators with everything they need to carry out the assaults. While the transit system has designated all female cars, the pace of attacks has not decreased. The report indicated that instead of going to the police, 40% of female mass transit users have instead modified the way they dress so as to discourage attacks.

Though the police in Mexico City have increased the number of police on the subways in order to discourage these assaults, many women in Mexico feel that little will change. Most are skeptical of the willingness or ability of the police to do anything about the harassment. Instead, many are taking measures into their own hands, organizing mass protests against the system that allows this treatment to continue. Banners that read “No means No” and “If one of us gets harmed, all of us will respond,” hint at the anger simmering beneath the surface. Hopefully, that anger will be enough to effect a change.

Wyatt is a writer and your friend. You can follow him on Twitter @WyattRedd.