Pestered Mexican women find safety on the buses
Saturday 26 January 2008
They say that on Mexico City's crowded buses, a young woman could climb aboard a virgin and leave pregnant.
In a city where the manic overcrowding of rush hour does little to dampen the deep-seated male sense of machismo, women learn to dread the constant chat-up lines, the bodies pressed up suspiciously close to theirs, the "dead hand" that just happens to come to rest against their breasts, and worse besides.
Now, though, the women of Mexico City have officially had it. This week, the city inaugurated three bus lines for women only, with plans to add 15 more by April. So far, the experiment appears to be a great success. "With this type of transport, I can dress a little bit better, wear skirts without anyone bothering me," Sandra Jimenez, a 29-year-old commuter, told a reporter from Agence France-Presse. She had previously resorted to taking taxis to work.
The women-only buses have pink signs in the front windows and security guards on board to make sure no male Mexicans – apart from young children and disabled men – try to barge their way on. During rush hour, the dedicated buses pass by every 20to 30 minutes on some of the city's busiest routes.
Mexico City residents take a staggering 22 million bus rides every day, creating an atmosphere ripe for chaos of all sorts.
Officials say about one-seventh of the city's rapes and incidents of sexual harassment take place on buses, but the number of actual complaints is stunningly low – just seven last year.
Every woman has her own defence mechanisms – everything from wearing dowdy outer clothing to carrying a safety pin to deter wandering hands.
Mexico City is not the first place to introduce women-only buses. Similar services already exist in Brazil, Japan and India. The concept is not entirely new in Mexico City either – on the city's underground system, the first three cars are usually reserved for women.
The response in the first few days, though, has been enthusiastic. A couple of times, men have got on a bus, only to be mocked by the passengers and shamed into climbing back off.
"Now he knows how women feel," Yolanda Altamirano, a 64-year-old office cleaner, said after one hapless caballero retreated from her bus.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
UK weather: Snow to fall during coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Ellen DeGeneres leads Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany in revealing game of Never Have I Ever
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...