Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Argentinian Whistleblowers

Still gets you in trouble even down there:

"In Argentina, proposed law targets verbal, physical assaults on women" by Debora Rey Associated Press  June 13, 2015 

Nothing else going on in Argentina?

BUENOS AIRES — When she left her house each day, Aixa Rizzo would brace for a barrage of sexually laden comments from male electricians working on a project in her neighborhood.

It started with under-the-breath remarks, applause, and whistles, but over several weeks developed into vulgarities about her body and chants about sexual fantasies. One day, three of the men followed her, prompting Rizzo to turn around and shower them with pepper spray. The men swore at her and told her she was crazy, but ultimately walked away.

‘‘They shouted these things at me for an entire month,’’ the 20-year-old university student said. ‘‘I couldn’t walk out of my house in peace.’’

Frustrated by something all too common in this South American country of 41 million, Rizzo in April posted a video on YouTube about her experience. She said verbal assaults could lead to physical abuse.

The video, seen by half a million people, touched a nerve, turning Rizzo’s campaign into a cause celebre and prompting lawmakers in Argentina to draft legislation that would make such street harassment a crime. A vote is expected within a few months.

Beyond clogging the courts, I'm glad to see lawmakers down there are tackling the tough issues.

That is not approval of such conduct at all. It's just the agenda-pushing quality of the medium that sours me on such things. Sorry.

The moves come amid a national campaign protesting physical attacks against women. Tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets recently in a march with the slogan ‘‘ni una menos,’’ or not one more woman lost to gender violence.

Really? And I'm only reading about it now?

There are many contradictions in Argentina when it comes to gender equality. Women have equal rights under the law and there are more women than men enrolled in college. The country’s most powerful person is a woman, President Cristina Fernandez. But the macho culture of many Latin American countries is pervasive here as well.

Do they celebrate militarism like AmeriKa? That kind of macho culture?

Many men, from taxi drivers to construction workers to white-collar workers, frequently whistle or say things when women walk by.

Again, I'm not doing that and the guys that do that are jerks. We all know 'em.

‘‘Lewd comments are just the tip of the iceberg that manifests itself in domestic violence,’’ said an opposition lawmaker, Victoria Donda, who has put forward legislation making such verbal taunts a crime.

So much for free speech. 

I say arm the women with guns and let them shoot a couple. The insults will soon stop, I guarantee it.

Under Donda’s bill, which includes funds to raise awareness about abuse in schools and workplaces, women could report sexual harassment in public places.

A judge would then review the complaint, interview any witnesses, and decide whether a fine should be levied.

The law is aimed at combating aggressive sexual comments, not compliments about nice hair or clothes.

Let the confusion begin! 

I guess politicians in Argentina are the same as in the the U.S. They can't fix their economy and everything else they have screwed up, so let's waste time on an out-there issue.

However, Orlando Britez, a 23-year-old construction worker, worries that men could be punished if women interpret their comments as too aggressive.

‘‘It means I would have to hold it in, and not say what I really want to’’ when women pass by, Britez said from a Buenos Aires work site.

Yeah, so?

‘‘If we say nice things, what’s wrong with that?’’ asked fellow construction worker Elio Borlio. ‘‘Things like, ‘Look at how beautiful you are.’ ’’

My position on this issue is to not comment on someone's looks, period. It's a person there.

The bill appears to have wide support, including among ruling party lawmakers, and two similar proposals are being considered by the municipality of Buenos Aires, the country’s capital and largest city.

Concern has been growing about increased violence against women, including a rise in reported cases of domestic abuse.

In 2010, the Supreme Court created the Office of Domestic Violence to receive and evaluate claims of abuse. The first year, the office dealt with 7,437 cases. By last year, the number had risen to 10,573, a 42 percent increase.

There has also been a growth in the number of women killed in violent acts nationwide, according to Meeting House, an organization that works with battered women. It says that 277 women were killed violently last year, including in cases of rape and kidnapping, up from 208 in 2008, when it began to compile statistics.

Other countries in the region have considered similar bans on lewd comments.

Is that going to solve domestic violence problems, or are the politicians just under pressure to do something? 

What is the answer to domestic violence? I don't know, other than killing them all. That seems to solve any problem, I mean, it is what government does to solve its.

Under a law passed in Peru in March, women can report street harassment, and a judge then evaluates the claim and decides on a possible jail sentence.

That is where the print copy stopped.

A catalyst for that legislation was an incident last year that scandalized the country. Peruvian singer and actress Magaly Solier claimed that a man masturbated behind her on a busy bus in Lima. The man was identified and Solier filed a police report. But a judge decided against pursuing charges, saying that because there was no physical contact, the complaint didn’t belong in court.

In her video, Rizzo tells a similar story. After the pepper spray incident, she tried to file a police report, but was told the men couldn’t be charged because they never touched her.

In a Facebook forum called ‘‘Action/Respect,’’ women share stories of men jeering, hissing and calling out to them.

One woman recently wrote that men would shout at her even though she was six months pregnant.

Beyond the potential for harm, many women say the harassment is simply infuriating.

‘‘If they say, ‘Nice smile,’ I laugh and just continue walking,’’ said Susana Godoy, a 20-year-old university student in Buenos Aires. ‘‘But I hate it when they say, ‘Hey, baby,’ and other gross stuff.’’

I wonder if I come off as aloof because I never notice anything or anyone else.


You know, the coverage would be funny were it not so sad.


Mexico court effectively legalizes same-sex marriage

Senator King files bill to restore exports to Cuba

Also see: World War III: South American Sphere