Mexican subway needs to be less hostile to women

In the subway of Mexico City there’s a campaign running called Viajemos Seguras – Let’s travel safely. The initiative for this campaign comes from the city authorities and needs to rid the capital’s subway system of physical and sexual violence towards women.
Pink posters are hung all over the place, to insist on women reporting abuse via a special number. Cameras need to ensure that the chances of actually catching the perpetrators of the abuse are rising. Next to this, bracelets carrying the message: ‘Safe travel is our right. Sexual abuse is a crime.’ are being handed out an a large scale.
Figures from the Mexican department of Justice show that in 2007, 14% of the violence towards women occurring in the subway, were sexual harassment. That year, 395 reports were filed about harassment. This phenomenon is by no means a new one. In 2006, 383 women reported harassment in the subway, in and the proceeding years, there were about 400 reports filed. An investigation by the Instituto de las Mujeres de la Ciudad de México shows that over half of the crimes take place in the cars of the metro trains.
One of the goals of the campaign is to stimulate victims to file a formal complaint.  Until now, only few women press charges for sexual violence with the police. In other words, the available figures only represent the tip of the iceberg. Soroco Viveros, who lives and works in Mexico City, can’t take it any more: ‘Until a few months ago, I took the subway to go to work, but I got so sad from getting sexist insults, or even worse, being groped. Now I take a cab to work, or I try to get a lift.’
Viajemos Seguros is not the first initiative from the Mexican authorities to make public transportation in the capital more friendly towards women. Already the first three carts of the metro train are reserved for women and children between six and ten in the morning and evening. Critics say this is just a superficial solution, and they argue that what is needed, is a fundamental change in behavior. Nevertheless, the separated carts are being used extensively. At every fence that separates the men and women waiting for the train, security personnel is posted. This prevents men ‘accidentally’ getting into the women carts. (ldco)

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