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“No groping” on buses in Colombia

In News stories, Resources, street harassment | on 05.31.11 | by | Comments ( 0 )

Via Love Matters in the Netherlands:

“We don’t need that kind of support,” runs the slogan on a poster showing a man thrusting himself up against a woman.

“We don’t want that hand,” reads another ‘no groping’ poster. They’re part of a campaign against sexual harassment on the buses of Colombia’s capital Bogota, set up by a group of women who’ve had enough of wandering hands and offensive sexual comments.

“During rush hour, when the buses are packed, the male passengers take the opportunity to stand close to women and feel them up,” says Marisol Dalmazo of the Latin American Women and Habitat Network in Colombia. “It’s offensive and restrictive to women.”

Marisol has been running a programme since 2007 in Bogota to promote neighbourhood women’s centres and make the streets safer for women and girls. And she’s the driving force behind a campaign to put a stop to one of the harmful side-effects of Latin America’s macho culture: street sexual harassment.

“It’s something that’s always happened and not only in Latin America,” she stresses. “It’s now important that we draw attention to the issue and make men aware that what they’re doing is sexual harassment and mustn’t be tolerated under any circumstances.”

“We put up posters at every bus station and bus stop,” she says. “The bus company employees help us – they even wear t-shirts with slogans against sexual harassment.”

Marisol and her organisation also act out role plays about sexual harassment on the bus. Women dressed as men perform scenes about groping, and then ask passengers what they think about the behaviour.

“We generally get positive responses,” she says. “More and more, people think sexual harassment should be condemned, that this kind of behaviour mustn’t be tolerated.”

I love how Marisol and other women took the issue of groping on the buses and street harassment into their own hands and even have bus employee cooperation in their efforts to prevent it. Their initiatives should be inspirational to people everywhere who are fed up and have had enough of sexual harassment on the streets, in the parks, on the buses and subways.

Find ideas for what YOU can do at an individual and/or a community level. Every action makes a difference.

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