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Mancera's whistle. Mancera's whistle.

Mayor’s free whistles earn scorn, ridicule

But Mancera defends program, says it's only one of several measures

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera’s whistle warning system for victims of sexual harassment or assault has been received with widespread scorn and ridicule, along with countless memes on social media.

Making matters worse for the beleaguered Mancera, and providing additional fodder for mayoral mockery, is that one Spanish word for whistle is pito, which is also slang for penis. It didn’t take long for the hashtag #elpitodemancera, or Mancera’s whistle, to appear.

“Mancera thought that to not be harassed he had to give us exactly what we don’t have,” wrote one woman on her Twitter account.

The mayor explained last week that “the whistle strategy will be available to whoever needs it. The whistle will be sending out a warning signal to society that something’s happening, and that we can’t be indifferent.”

The whistles, emblazoned with the stylized CDMX logo, will be handed out free of charge to women and men alike, enabling victims and witnesses of harassment to raise an alarm.

But one recent victim of assault, a journalist who had her underwear yanked down while walking in the city’s La Condesa neighborhood, wondered how effective they might be. “If screaming doesn’t help, how will this?” asked Andrea Noel on Twitter.

This week, in response to the criticism, Mancera has clarified that the whistle should be considered only as one measure in combatting sexual violence against women. And, he said, it is a measure that has proved effective in other parts of the world.

“There is testimony of women who say they’ve never left home without their whistle for the last 10 years.”

But, he pointed out, it wasn’t a standalone measure.

“Mexico City today has exclusive vehicles for women, exclusive buses” and has seen a 300% increase in harassment reports.

“We’re now receiving in one month the number of reports we used to get in one year,” said Mancera.

The mayor said it was too soon to judge the whistle program, though he praised its success in other large cities, including some in Mexico, as well as London, Barcelona and Buenos Aires.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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