MEXICO

Mexican women lay bare the country's violent macho culture

'Las Morras' use video and social media to fight back against misogyny in Mexican society. Photo credit: Las Morras.
'Las Morras' use video and social media to fight back against misogyny in Mexican society. Photo credit: Las Morras.

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Armed with skirts, social media, and a hidden camera, a group of women have taken to the streets of Mexico City to expose the misogyny inherent in Mexican society. 'Las Morras' (the young women) say Mexico's macho culture is making life unbearable for women across the country.

Earlier this year in May, four young Mexican women ventured through the streets of Mexico City with a hidden camera, determined to film the misogyny that women are forced to deal with every day. The insults caught on tape - from "Whores!", to "Hey, dolls!" - come thick and fast. Six months later, the footage is still being shared on social media networks, and has even become a regular feature at feminist conferences.

The video is entitled 'Las Morras confront their aggressors' and has already been watched more than one million times. It was filmed using a GoPro hidden in the backpack of an accomplice who keeps pace ahead of the women. It shows Las Morras wearing skirts and tight-fitting tops as they walk through the streets of the Mexican capital. The video begins with a short prelude, in which the women explain, "We are four young women who live in Mexico City. Like other women, we suffer harassment and abuse whenever we walk through the streets. We've decided to ask the aggressors whether they have anything to say."

Barely 30 seconds into the video, several people begin whistling and shouting dozens of insults, calling them "whores", with one asking, "Are you going to a funeral?" Some men stop to stare intently at the women, smiling all the while.

And instead of taking the abuse, the women stop and call out the men shouting at them, demanding, "What is it? Do you have something to say to me?" Unsurprisingly, most of the harassers are taken aback at being addressed and are silent in response. The women go on, "Right, if you have nothing to say to me, don't speak to me. Ok?" or, "Don't talk to me in the street if you don't know me!"

The women also say that they were followed by a man when they were on their way to buy water. According to them, he waited for them at the entrance to the shop, then masturbated in front of them – he can be seen in the video.

 

Public transport just for women

 

The video quickly sparked a debate, attracting more than 5,000 comments. Some internet users have accused the women of exaggerating the extent of the abuse and deliberately filming in the capital's poorest neighbourhoods.

But this isn't the first video to have exposed the troubling levels of harassment in Mexico City. Last May, a man was caught on CCTV pulling down a 27-year-old American woman's underwear in an upmarket part of the city. After getting her hands on the footage, she distributed the video online. Along with two other women, she launched a campaign on social media using the hashtag #notecalles ['Don't shut up'] to encourage other victims of sexual assault to press charges.

Sexual harassment and violence against women in Mexico City has become such a problem that in 2000 the city authorities began to set up metro lines exclusively for women, reflecting measures already taken in cities in Egypt and India. The new women-only lines started to come into force in 2008.

In other videos, Las Morras give transsexuals, who are largely stigmatised in Mexico, the opportunity to speak out. They also ask other women about their experiences of sexual harassment and criticise government measures designed to improve women's security.