Mexico City hands out whistles as a low-tech weapon against sexual harassment

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The government of Mexico City is generally recognized as being among the most progressive in the country when it comes to issues such as gay rights and sexual and reproductive rights. But some of the government's well-intended efforts look like a swing and a miss.

That was the case with the latest social awareness campaign by Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera to give women pink-colored whistles to combat sexual harassment when riding the subway or other public transportation means. This “first phase” plan comes in response to several protests demanding that the government of Mexico City do more to counter a rising wave of violence against women.


“This will give an alert signal to society that we can’t remain indifferent,” Mancera said at a press conference Wednesday, while holding up one of thousands of whistles his administration plans to hand out to women in coming days.

Mancera said men can also get a black-colored whistle.

Mayor Mancera’s whistleblowing initiative has quickly made him the laughing stock on Mexican social media, which unleashed a flurry of tweets and memes under the derisive hashtag El Pito de Mancera— a double entendre that means “Mancera’s whistle” or “Mancera’s dick.”

“Mancera’s whistle: cutting edge technology to eradicate crime and abuses against women.”


“Mancera’s whistle has been used since the times of the Titanic.”


“Keep calm & touch the whistle/dick.”


“Woman touches Mancera’s whistle/dick and gets jailed for harassment.”


“And what happens when Mancera’s whistles go off?”

Some suggested the government could use other musical instruments to fight crime, such as anti-corruption maracas:


Others mocked the fact that the whistle is produced by a British company known as ACME, a brand name that was popularized for making junk products in the widely beloved Roadrunner cartoon:


“The joke tells itself, Mancera’s whistle is brand ACME.”


“Learning how to use Mancera’s whistle.”

But not everyone is blowing off the initiative.

“The idea of using whistles against sexual harassment is not a completely ridiculous action by Mancera,” journalist Cynthia Ramirez wrote for Mexican magazine Letras Libres. Ramirez pointed out similar and successful initiatives have been carried out in other countries such as Myanmar, where women on buses were given whistles to denounce threats from nearby passengers.


The criticism does seem a bit harsh. Still, in a country with a rising femicide rate and a capital with a major sexual harassment problem, people are demanding a more integral solution than a whistle can provide.

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