UN sponsors campaign against sexual harassment in Mexico City
SAN JUAN – The United Nations and the government of Mexico City have partnered in a campaign to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women in public transport throughout the city as part of the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for women and girls program.
Faced with alarming figures, UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, in partnership with the Mexico City government, and with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and advertising agency J. Walter Thompson launched a campaign targeting men aged between 20 and 50 years old. The campaign aims to end the normalization of sexual violence against women in public spaces and to “promote a more respectful form of masculinity.”
For the first part of the campaign, the Mexico City Metro was used to carry out social experiments that were filmed and made into two videos that challenge the normalization of sexual violence by placing men in similar situations to give them an idea of what women experience in their daily lives.
In one of the videos, a seat in a subway car was replaced with a molded sculpture of a nude male torso, including genitals, with a plaque on top that read, “Exclusively for men.”
Made about two months ago, the video shows the passengers’ disgust and discomfort when they sit next to, or on, the high-relief seat. In a public transportation system serving more than 4.6 million passengers daily, a seat could be considered prime real estate, but these seats were scorned and rejected.
A second video shows people waiting on a subway platform, which was rigged with a large, closed-circuit monitor. The image on the screen suddenly turns to show close-up shots of some of the male passengers’ buttocks. The men looked surprised and some even disturbed. Some cover themselves with their hands or bags.
Immediately after, the screen shows the campaign’s slogan, “This is what thousands of women must suffer everyday.”
According to a survey by the National Institute for Statistics and Geography, the forms of violence most frequently reported in Mexico City were: offensive or sexualized comments (74%); unwanted touching and groping (58%); and fear of being assaulted or abused (14%). Also, according to the National Survey of Victimization and Perceptions of Safety 2016, 87.7% of women 18 year or older feel unsafe using mass transit and 79.4% feel unsafe on Mexico City streets.
For UN Women, “sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence are a global pandemic that continue to be under-recognized.”
“Men often normalize their violence, women often do not report, and there are insufficient interventions to prevent and respond to sexual violence. Violence against women and girls violates their freedom of movement, their ability to participate in education, work and public life. This is a universal problem that occurs in both developed and developing countries and there is no city in the world that is free of this scourge,” reads a UN Women’s release.