Ju Santarosa Cobos was 11 the first time a group of older men catcalled her on the street. She was biking by a construction site in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and some of the men working there yelled vulgar comments about her body. When she got home, her dad, who had been driving behind her, warned her to never respond to those types of comments.
“He was basically telling me to keep quiet and not incite the fury of my harasser, making me feel bad instead of placing the blame on the person who did it,”Santarosa Cobos said.
As the founder of Acción Respeto, a group dedicated to ridding Argentina of street harassment, Santarosa Cobos has been working for years to shift this paradigm.Today, her organization has just seen its most substantial victory yet: The city of Buenos Aires has just passed a bill outlawing street harassment in the South American city.
The law takes both a punitive and educational approach. It creates an easy way for women to report street harassment as a crime and requires police to take the situation seriously, which has not always been the case in Argentina. Proven cat-callers could be slammed with small fines or court-mandated public service. The legislation also creates educational campaigns within the health, education, and transportation ministries that would teach Argentines that any comment or interaction in the street still requires a woman’s consent. These programs will also emphasize how to spot street harassment and intervene on a victim’s behalf.
Read More in Broadly