Thursday 19 October 2017

Mexico City 'penis seat' raises awareness of sexual assault on the metro

Angry responses claim the UN campaign is ‘misandrist’

Jon Sharman

Men using Mexico City’s metro trains got a shock when they sat down on a seat featuring a lifelike penis.

Campaigners against sexual violence placed the seat, which is moulded in the shape of a male body – complete with genitals, on public transport in a drive designed to show men the difficulties women face every day.

A note on the floor in front of the seat read: “It’s uncomfortable to sit here, but that’s nothing compared to the sexual violence suffered by women on their commute.”

A video promoting the stunt has been watched some 800,000 times on YouTube and is part of a UN Women campaign, alongside the Mexico City government, to tackle the problem of sexual assault.

In it, men can be seen leaping straight back up after trying to sit in the seat. Bemused, confused and disgusted expressions are seen on passengers’ faces as they catch sight of the moulding.

Mexico City moved in 2000 to make the first three carriages of metro trains women-only all day because of a surge in complaints about harassment, but it appears the problem remains.

Even one of the country’s most famous luchadores has joined the #NoEsDeHombres campaign. Masked professional wrestler El Hijo Del Santo exhorted his 70,000 Twitter followers to “inform yourselves and share, until it’s clear this fight will be won’.

Holly Kearl, founder of the Stop Street Harassment campaign in the US, told the BBC: “Too often initiatives around women’s safety focus on what women should or should not do, so it is refreshing to see a creative campaign aimed at men.”

On YouTube, the reaction was not universally positive.

One angry male commenter condemned the video as “misandrist” and said it accused an “entire gender” over the actions of an “idiotic and uneducated percentage”.

A woman wrote under the video: “These misandrist campaigns make me angry. To other women I say, ‘Don’t you have sons, fathers or partners? Do you agree with generalising and demonising the male sex in this way?’"

Independent News Service

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