In the process of handling Nancy’s case, along with the rising global attention on the plight of women who suffer under sexual harassment, the Prosecutor’s Office contacted Pastelín to apologise. Conveying that a different kind of follow-up should have been followed in her case the local Office of the Public Prosecutor also offered Pastelín her own police patrol protection for the days following the wide outburst of public support, but Pastelín decided the offer had come ‘too-little-too-late’ and declined the help the police offered.
Law books in Mexico today do sanction the obscene remarks and actions Nancy Pastelín endured by her harasser. They are also considered a criminal felony offense in Mexico. A relatively new 2008 Mexican law outlines that all women of Mexico are now entitled to “a life free of violence.” This provision also covers protections for women under the crime of sexual harassment stating violence against women includes: “any act or omission, based on gender, that causes damage, either psychological, physical, economical, sexual or death, in public or private spaces.”
A guilty sentence for sexual harassment in Mexico today can cause the offender of the crime to get 6 months to 2 years in prison, along with a fine of 30 to 50 days equally the minimum wage salary in Mexico.
“Despite important guarantees in law, many victims of crime feel a profound lack of confidence in the police and prosecution service,” said Amnesty International in 2007 on the problems for women who report crime in Mexico. “There can be little doubt that this lack of confidence in the criminal justice system plays a significant role in discouraging reporting of crimes and so further entrenches impunity for abuses.”
Since Pastelín’s case was brought to the attention of a large and growing public through her video release on YouTube along with ongoing discussions on Twitter and Facebook, Mexico City’s Justice Department (PGJDF) sanctioned and removed the police officers who handled Pastelín’s case. This was due to what the Office said was “insensitive performance” on the job. Today Nancy Pastelín’s case against her sexual harassment assailant is still under investigation.
The man who sexually harassed Pastelín could be found guilty of a felony in Mexico, but it is possible he could also go free after paying bail. “I am aware that the sanction for this felony is not severe,” said Nancy during an interview on a Mexican television show hosted by local Mexican TV journalist Rocha. “… these kind of offenders should at least be obliged to receive psychological therapy,” outlined Pastelín to Rocha.
Inspired by her video, the Mexican advocacy organization Feminicidios del Campo Algodonero (on Twitter @Feminicidios) opened their own Twitter channel using the hashtag word #AlzolaVoz (I Raise my Voice). The Twitter hashtag has been created to offer a space for women to share their stories about violence and sexual harassment in Mexico.
“If you are a victim of any offense make a denounce, if you are not heard, you know what to do. If we need to shout to be listened, we will do it,” Nancy Pastelín tweeted on Twitter. ” …it served its purpose and now there’s a precedent. People know what they can do if there are not taken seriously by an authority,” said Pastelín recently to WNN.
“I believe social media is incredibly useful to get you the attention, whatever the issue may be,” continued Nancy. “There is a lack of information about what sexual harassment is, what you can do or where to go if you’re a victim. I’ve realized that, in fact, there are several public instances and programs for this situation; we just need to get information out about them.”
Street harassment of women is a worldwide problem. Working from a grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women, a social media campaign using global online outreach called ‘Hollaback!‘ brought empowerment to women on the street to combine with social media. Noting that cat calls and other forms of sexual harassment in public places were often ignored or overlooked by law enforcement and policymakers, Hollaback! founder Emily May and some of her friends took the matter into their own hands. In 2005, they started a blog in New York City that aimed to track, catalog and report instances of street harassment — a widespread phenomenon that in their minds helps create a “cultural environment that makes gender-based violence okay.” In Mexico the Hollaback! campaign has been asking women girls and GLBTs to report using an online report page to document any sexual harassment they experience by sharing the exact time and address where they were harassed. This video has been produced by the Ms. Foundation for Women.
For more information on this topic:
- “HarassMap – Reporting & Mapping Sexual Harassment on the Streets via SMS,” The Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights with NiJeL – Community Impact Through Mapping, January 2009;
- “Talking Points: Sexual Harassment,” NSVRC – National Sexual Violence Resource Center with PCAR – Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, November 2011;
- “Reducing Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination: Recommendations for the Mexico City Police Department,” Prepared for Democracia, Derechos Humanos, y Seguridad by University of Wisconsin-Madison, June 2005.
WNN correspondent in Mexico City, Cynthia Arvide, is a freelance journalist who specializes in women issues, her stories have been published in Marie Claire magazine, the Latin American edition. She also writes human interest stories, travel features and investigative reports about diverse cultural and social issues in Mexico and every country she has the opportunity to visit.
Additional sources for this WNN story include Amnesty International, Hollaback! NYC, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Feminicidios del Campo Algodonero, RochaTV and BBC News.
©2012 WNN – Women News Network
No part of this article release may be reproduced without prior permissions from WNN.
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