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This Happened After a Famous Actress was Harassed On a Public Bus in Peru

Metropolitano

Inside a bus belonging to Metropolitano de Lima. Flickr image by leondeurgel. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Peruvian Actress Magaly Solier, who had a leading role in the feature film The Milk of Sorrow, the first ever Peruvian movie nominated for an Academy Award, was going to a radio station for an interview using a Metropolitano de Lima [es] bus when she discovered that a man was masturbating right behind her. Outraged, Solier denounced the incident on the interview she had just minutes later.

This unleashed a wave of outrage expressed by other artists, but above all, by ordinary people, among them many women, who shared how they had been victims of similar situations in the past. A female minister even suggested [es] women ought to carry scissors, nails and needles in their purses for self defense. After a strong campaign on media and social networks, the perpetrator was finally identified, thanks to images captured by security cameras at one of the Metropolitano stations.

Such a high profile incident led some blogs to address the issue which, unfortunately, was not a new one. Cynthia Yamamoto, the blogger on El último de la vía [Last one in line; es] wondered if women can feel safe when using public transportation. She ended her blog post by saying:

Algo que aprendí de este lamentable incidente es que tenemos que pensar cómo nos sentimos las mujeres en el transporte público, en los paraderos, en las calles, en la ciudad. Es bueno que las mujeres -así como Magaly- denunciemos el acoso sexual callejero, porque nos permitirá ser peatonas más libres, más felices, más tranquilas. La actriz ganadora del Oso de Oro de Berlín ha dando una muestra de empatía y solidaridad nos dice: “si me pasa a mí, le puede pasara a cualquier persona”.

Something I learned from this deporable incident is that we have to think how we, women, feel on public transportation, at bus stops, on the streets, in the city. It's good that women – like Magaly- denounce street sexual harrasment, as it will allow us to be freer, happier, calmer women when on public transport. The Berlin Golden Bear awarded actress has shown empathy and sympathy and tells us: “if this happens to me, it can happen to anybody”.

Karla Salgado Zúñiga, on her Blog sin Nombre [Blog without name; es] also shares her musings about the same incident:

Ya perdí la cuenta de cuántas veces me han metido la mano en la calle, se han sobajeado contra mí en el bus o me han dicho alguna grosería o lanzado algún silbido, tampoco faltan los “buenos días señorita” con una voz mañosa, o esos patas [hombres] que se me han acercado tanto a la cara, como si el espacio personal no existiera.

Claro, ahora no me callo, estoy molesta, me llega, grito, les digo “violador” o que por qué mejor no se van a decirle a su vieja [madre] que tiene “rica la vagina”. Se molestan, me dicen loca. Loca, ¿loca?, ¡loca! o sea, tú me agredes, te contesto y soy la loca. Nadie hace nada, la gente mira, y a veces siento que hasta me miran mal a mí y no al agresor de turno.

I've already lost count of how many times I've been groped on the street, men have brushed against me on the bus or have told me something obscene or given me a whistle, there are also those that wish “good morning miss” with a sly tone, or those guys that get too close to my face, as if personal space doesn't exist.

Of course, I don't keep quiet anymore, I'm upset, this enrages me, I shout, I call them “rapist” or tell them why don't they go tell those things to their old [mothers], that she has a “delicious vagina”. They get mad, they call me crazy. Crazy, crazy? Crazy! I mean, you assault me, I get back at you and I'm the crazy one. Nobody does anything, people just look and at times I feel that are giving me queer looks rather than censuring my attacker.

Group blog Paremos el acoso callejero [Let's stop street harrassment] dedicates a post [es] to men who harass women by passing obscene comments, and they tell them:

Quizás piensas que tus silbidos, miradas o comentarios en voz alta sobre las mujeres son halagadores para ellas o que no generan cambios en sus vidas. Tal vez crees que tienes derecho a dirigirte a todas las mujeres en la calle, sólo por el hecho de que están ahí o porque se visten de alguna manera.

No podemos hablar en nombre de todas las mujeres de esta ciudad, ni de reglas que se apliquen a todos los casos; pero sí podemos sugerirte algunas reflexiones sobre ciertos argumentos que hemos escuchado muchas veces.
“Lo hago para halagarlas, para hacerles saber lo bonitas que son”.

Recuerda, ¿cómo te respondieron? ¿Alguna vez te dijeron: “¡gracias, eres muy amable!”? ¿No? ¿Y no has pensando que tal vez sea porque no se sintieron halagadas en lo más mínimo?

Maybe you think your whistling, staring and loud comments about women flatter them and that their lives don't change after that. Maybe you think you are entitled to address all women on the street, just because they are out there or because they are dressed in some way or other.

We can't speak on behalf of every woman in this city, nor about one-size-fits-all rules, but we can suggest that you reflect on some of the arguments we've heard many times.
“I do that to flatter them, to let them know how pretty they are”.

Remember how they responded? Have they ever said: “thanks, that is very kind of you!”? No? And you did not once think that this might be because they didn't feel flattered at all?

On the website of Exitosa Diario, sociologist Liz Meléndez also talked about the issue [es]:

Si nos atrevemos a preguntar a un grupo de mujeres si alguna vez han atravesado por un hecho de violencia sexual, no todas darán una respuesta afirmativa; pero si escarbamos mucho más allá y profundizamos en las múltiples manifestaciones de ésta, puedo asegurar que el 100% de ellas dirá que sí.
[...]
Lo cierto es que mujeres y hombres nos situamos en el espacio público de forma diferente, las mujeres lo vivimos con cierto temor y cuidado, y ello no es vivir en igualdad. No se trata que las mujeres evitemos los riesgos y sigamos inventando estrategias para sentirnos y estar más seguras, se trata que apostemos por una cultura de respeto y reconocimiento del derecho de todas las personas a vivir libres de violencia.

If we dare to ask a group of women if they have gone through an episode of sexual violence, not all of them will give an affirmative answer; but if we go further and dig deeper into the many ways sexual violence is expressed, I can assure that 100% of them will answer yes.
[...]
The thing is women and men go differently through public spaces. We, women live with a certain fear and care, and that's not living in equality. This is not about women avoiding risks and inventing strategies for us to feel and be safer, this is about us putting in place a culture of respect and acknowledging the right of every individual to live free of violence.

Meanwhile, Twitter users also expressed their opinion:

Good morning, we are at Metropolitano Central Station waiting for the guy to see what happens.

Metropolitano: video shows that guy followed Magaly Solier to molest her http://t.co/oZzkPSkRSJ

Metropolitano: video shows how Magaly Solier confronts her attacker and no one helps her.

Watch out! XXX-rated pages host videos of female users of Metropolitano (photos) http://ow.ly/xsHfN

Sexual harrassment on the streets also comes disguised as an amorous compliment.

Some users tried to suggest some solutions:

1. Control that passengers don't go packed like sardines. Bus capacity must be respected.

2) Let a female municipal control guard be at every bus stop so she can immediately receive any complaints of sexual perversion.

  • bachcole

    I suppose it would be very politically incorrect to mention that it might help if more women would take it upon themselves to dress modestly. And I am sure that many of the victims of this kind of violation do dress modestly. Men have to grow up and take responsibility for their lust, and women have to take responsibility for how they appear and the messages that they broadcast to the world.

    And I am fully aware that this is not a popular message, but it is nevertheless true.

    • expertcrystal

      It’s very easy to tell women to dress more modestly, but as you already said, this solves very little and nearly nothing as modestly dressed women are often the ones under attack.

      It’s a lot harder to entirely change common culture and make men responsible for their actions. But this is the only way to solve anything.

      • bachcole

        Since you are going to address me civilly, I will respond, thank you. Everyone is and should be responsible for their actions. Even my daughter, who is otherwise wonderful beyond words, can’t seem to help herself from dressing in a provocative manner, no matter how many times I hint or tell her outright. I don’t think that this increases her risk of getting raped, but it is inconsiderate. It is sending an untrue message. It is giving men’s lust something to feed off of. As long as we have a sexualized society, people will act in a sexual way. Women dress in a provocative way and they say that they just want to look nice or they just want to allure their male partner, but that is not what is happening. It is like dropping a bomb and saying that we just wanted to kill military targets; sorry about the collateral damage. We are responsible for the messages that we “transmit”, even if they are untrue.

        Don’t misunderstand me. I think that those men who act that way should have strong acid poured on their dicks. They are WAY out of line and should be kneed in the nuts, with extreme prejudice. But women are also responsible for their actions.

        • expertcrystal

          I find that civil discussions make more headway than heated argments.

          I agree that everyone should be responsible for their actions but that’s not what is happening.

          When you focus on what a woman is wearing rather than who attacked her people begin to blame the woman rather than her attacker. This is called victim blaming. It attacks a woman for how she dresses rather than the man for how he acted.

          It is my belief that people can choose when and where they are sexual. A bedroom is a very different environment than a nude beach but both places tend to have nudity. The only reason why women are attacked is because men are choosing to sexualise women who do not wish to be sexual. They are removing the woman’s consent to enter a sexual situation and are forcing the sexual situation on her.

          It’s just like with your daughter. You tell her to cover up her cleavage and wear different clothing because subconciously you know people will sexualise her without her consent. My parents have also told me to wear different clothing because others will sexualise me.

          It’s very frustrating to be sexualised by strangers but every day women face this. (To a lesser extent so do men). It’s completely unacceptable but it is only by making men responsible for their actions that the unwilling sexualisation will end.

          • bachcole

            Close, but not quite. See, you are a woman, and so you probably don’t understand either. I agree with everything that you say, except, if my daughter is showing cleavage, that is a sexual message. It is not an asexual message; it is not neutral. Now, it is obvious that Muslims have taken this idea WAY too far, just like everything else human. Human beings tend to take things too far. What I am trying to say can be taken or understand to the extreme, and that is not what I am saying. There is balance in everything. I just find that usually young women simply are oblivious to the message that they are sending. One of my favorite people said once, “I just got tired of the bad vibes” when she started to dress more modestly. There can be and should be no dress code; women just have to own their messages and be honest about them. There is pretty feminine and then there is pretty sexual.

            And, as usual, I agree that men who do these sorts of things are PIGS and should be publicly flogged with their pants down and deeply humiliated.

          • expertcrystal

            The problem with this discussion isn’t the fact that I’m a woman. The problem is that you fail to see the world how a woman see’s it.

            Women are taught that the world is full of possessive people that will try to control our bodies. Women are taught self defense tactics like children are taught their ABC’s. Women are taught to dress conservatively, travel in groups, to carry pepper spray and unconventional weapons or attacks are our fault.

            This balance you speak of is nonexistant as long as women face the blame for their assaults.

            Yes clothing can be provocative but if a man can’t control himself he is the problem. Don’t try to police women because men don’t have self control.

          • bachcole

            “The problem with this discussion isn’t the fact that I’m a woman. The
            problem is that you fail to see the world how a woman sees it.” = “The problem with this discussion isn’t the fact that I’m a man. The
            problem is that you fail to see the world how a man sees it.”

            But I already happily support the policy men who behave this way need serious punishment for this kind of behavior. I am not blaming women for ANYTHING. I am merely saying that women are not owning their communications, and this does not help society as a whole because it is a further sexualization of society. It happens often that women will dress provocatively and then complain that some man looks at them; now, for me, that is absurd.

          • expertcrystal

            You’re still saying it’s the woman’s fault for dressing a certain way. That’s blaming women for the actions of men.

            This is as simple as it gets.

          • bachcole

            I did not say that. I clearly and distinctly did not say that. If you choose to interpret it that way then there is nothing that I can say that will change your thoughts.

  • craigbhill

    This is what women get in every society that follows Christianity or Islam, the worship of the preposterous oxymoron of the single male creator. Men who think they know Woman—the womb of Man—issued from their rib, or some such idiocy, refuse to countenance that is was they who issue from women, not the reverse, and use that arrogant fiction to lord over every woman they desire as theirs for the pinching.

    Realize where the nonsense of the male creator has taken you, ladies, and teach your children the pack of lies it is. In another generation your abuse at the hand of your creations will cease, and your daughters will be safe from it. Continue on believing as you are and so will men as they evilly do now.

  • Pingback: Peru Plans to Catch Public Transport Gropers With Undercover Female Cops as ‘Bait’ | Alex Pashley | Peru

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