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Chilean towns to fine men for street harassment of women

Chilean women rally in Santiago on International Women's Day, March 8
AFP

Santiago (AFP) – Two Chilean municipalities have announced they will begin issuing fines of up to hundreds of dollars to anyone guilty of street harassment of women. 

The measures are aimed at curbing gender-based crime which according to the United Nations is rife across the Latin American region, where a culture of “machismo” prevails.

On Monday, the mayor of the upmarket Santiago suburb of Las Condes introduced the law which the municipality said aimed to eradicate street harassment “experienced by people moving through public spaces.”

The mayor, Joaquin Lavin, pointedly launched the initiative on a construction site, of the kind from where men typically aim catcalls at passing women in the street.

“What we want to do is raise the level of respect on public streets,” Lavin told journalists.

Last week, the nearby suburb of Recoleta in northern Santiago implemented a similar measure, with fines of between $77 and $385 for offenders.

The Las Condes law provides for anti-street harassment signs being erected in various public places, including construction sites, bus stops and metro stations.

“We don’t bother or offend anyone here. We are against street harassment,” the signs say.

Those accused of the offence will be fined up to $390 dollars, imposed on the spot by municipal inspectors or police.

The measures are part of a fight against gender-based violence, which in 2015 saw 1,700 women murdered in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Women also run the guantlet of street and political harassment throughout the region, the report by the Santiago-based UN agency says. 

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