Mexico City’s mass transit system has installed a graphic, if not pornographic, device designed to make men think twice about sexually harassing women.
It’s a seat covering with anatomically correct male genitalia intended for “Men Only,” according to a March 24 report in Excelsior. The idea is to make men feel as uncomfortable as some of them make women feel.
“It’s annoying to sit here, but doesn’t compare to the sexual violence women suffer on their daily trips,” a sign on the floor says.
You can find a video here that captures the surprise and alarm several men feel when they sit down unawares.
The rude seat — which went viral on social media — was installed on a line in Mexico City’s STC metro system as part of a broader campaign to combat sexual harassment and assaults against women, whether on the street or in public transportation. Nearly 44 percent of women in Mexico have been victims of “sexual violence” at least once in their lives, according to a 2010 report from the United Nations.
Of course, the U.N. report notes that sexual harassment and violence toward women is universal, particularly in mass transit. Last year, a woman was sexually assaulted on Washington’s Red Line during the morning rush hour, and Metro didn’t bother to call attention to the crime until almost a month later.
Everybody is more vulnerable inside the confined space of a subway train or a bus. But women bear the brunt, with statistics showing high rates of harassment and violence toward female riders on mass transit systems in many cities around the globe, according to the World Bank. Riding a bus or a train often means encountering a male passenger leering at them, making offensive gestures or remarking about their looks, touching them or worse.
A survey conducted by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last year found that 1 in 5 riders had experienced sexual harassment, with women nearly three times as likely as men to be the victim of it. Most often the abuse was verbal, but 26 percent had been groped and 2 percent had experienced sexual assault.
And it’s women who most often rely on mass transit to conduct their daily business, the World Bank says. Several mass transit systems around the world and in the United States, including Boston’s MBTA, New York’s subway, and Washington’s Metro, have undertaken public service campaigns in recent years to fight sexual harassment.
Until now, Mexico has been among the worst for sexual harassment, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing a Thompson Reuters Foundation survey of female transit riders from 16 cities around the world. Last year, whistles were handed out to Mexican women to combat sexual assault, and a group that called itself “Hijas de Violencia” or “Daughters of Violence” took a somewhat artsy approach, packing glitter guns to fire at men who molested them, the Los Angeles Times says.
Now let’s see what a lewd sculpture can do.
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