Argentina may be about to criminalise catcalling

Aixa Rizzo, the woman who uploaded a YouTube video that prompted the legislation, joins the #NiUnaMenos campaign against ...

Aixa Rizzo, the woman who uploaded a YouTube video that prompted the legislation, joins the #NiUnaMenos campaign against domestic violence.

Street harassment of women is a universal problem, but in light of feminist activism and a string of recent awareness-raising campaigns around the world, it's one that some countries are beginning to take seriously enough to legislate against.

That now includes Argentina, where the culture of catcalling or piropos is so pervasive even the Mayor of Buenos Aires only last year said women who claim not to enjoy catcalls and rude comments are lying. He was later forced to apologise for the comments. 

In April this year, a video uploaded to YouTube by Aixa Rizzo (a young woman who was harassed on a daily basis by a group of male electricians in her neighbourhood) went viral, gathering over 500,000 views and sparking a national conversation that has prompted lawmakers to introduce legislation to criminalise the kind of verbal street harassment she described. 

"Lewd comments are just the tip of the iceberg that manifests itself in domestic violence," the bill's sponsor Victoria Donda told Associated Press. Under her bill, women could report sexual harassment in public spaces; a judge would then review the complaint and decide whether to fine the accused. The bill, to be voted on in coming months, also proposes funding awareness-raising exercises in schools and workplaces. 

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The move comes amid growing anger over violence against women in Argentina. Earlier this month, mass protests were held as part of the #NiUnaMenos ("not one less") movement condemning recent domestic violence murders. 

It's hoped that criminalising street harassment will help to end the culture of violence against women, by giving women the power to seek justice for verbal assaults, and by convincing men to curb actions that they might now understand are not only unwelcome, but a form of violence that will not be tolerated – either by women or by authorities.

 

Source: The Huffington Post