A recent campaign launched by UN Women in Mexico and the Mexico City government seeks to educate Metro riders about sexual violence against women—and has attracted worldwide attention for how it’s doing it.
The organizers covered a train seat with material in the shape of a naked male body. Not only does the seat come equipped with a fake penis, but it also has a plaque with the following sentence: “It’s uncomfortable to sit here, but it does not compare to the sexual violence that women suffer every day during their daily commutes.”
The penis-equipped seat is one of various audiovisual pieces and social experiments that specifically target “men with the hope of creating a cultural shift and decreasing the harassment that thousands of girls and women encounter every day,” wrote UN Women in a statement.
The group also published a video on YouTube that shows men’s reactions to their new designated seat on the metro:
The video explains that “9 out of every 10 women in Mexico City have been victims of some form of sexual violence during their daily commutes.”
“According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and the National Survey on the Dynamics of Domestic Relationships (ENDIREH), the most commonly reported types of violence in Mexico City are pickup lines or offensive statements (74%), non-consensual touching or groping (58%), fear of sexual advances and being attacked or abused (14%),” the group explained in a press release. “In Mexico City, 81.4% of women feel unsafe using and/or traveling on public transit (ENVIPE: 2016).”
The group also created the hashtag #NoEsDeHombres (“#ItIsNotForMen”) on social media and published another video recorded in Metro stations with various men reacting to videos of male body parts being played on screens on the platforms.
The Mexico City government has launched many other gender equality campaigns against the “normalization” of sexual harassment on the streets and in public spaces. Last year, the mayor’s office created a program to hand out rape whistles to women who use the different public transportation systems in the city. The city government has also hired special police officers to monitor the metro stations and has created women-only carts on the trains.